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Learning From Your Regrets

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Living with Guilt and Sorrow.

As human beings, we are subjects in complicated situations, complex feelings, and intense emotion. So many times, we imagine what we could have done to prevent a particular situation, you may be asking yourself if you did everything in your power to prevent the death or alleviate pain.

Grief can color your loss a darker shade and leave you with a sense of guilt and frustration. Should I have called 911 sooner? Should I have called earlier? Could I have prevented this? Why didn’t I see all the signs?

One minute more of life.

Our deep sense of loss can foster the belief that we have the power to prevent death. Grief increases our power of negotiation tricking us into thinking and believing that somehow, we could have prevented the natural death, the suicide, the accident. We tend to ask these questions in an attempt to imagine a different ending to our story. If we had done things right, our loved one would still be here, right?

While I was working with children and their grief, every day a child would make a drawing of himself with superpowers that would turn back time, time machines, magic wands, powerful beads or doors that leaded to their loved ones. They did this in their quest to imagine a different ending to their story.

For us adults, we tend to use regret and what-ifs. We desperately want a magic wand or a time to take us back in time so we can have one more minute, prevent the death or make things right. We want a different ending to our story. This is normal, this is necessary, this is okay.

Here are some do’s and don’ts that might be helpful.

  1. Be kind to yourself; feeling powerless is overwhelming and frustrating.

  2. Allow family and friends to help wherever they can

  3. Cry, grieve.

  4. Make a list of your regrets, what do you know now that you didn’t before. How can this knowledge be a tool for your future?

  5. Don’t spend too much time alone.

  6. Don’t give yourself a timeline or schedule to feel better.

  7. Take it one day at a time, for most of us is one hour at a time.

You owe yourself understanding, try to understand as much as you can, but remember we are all individuals in a journey, and our view of the world is subjective to our experience. You owe yourself kindness and time to process your loss. You owe yourself hope and self-acceptance.

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