Dear Barbara, I just read the post you wrote about grieving. My tears won't stop running down my face. It struck a nerve. My father passed away 3 weeks ago after being sick for so long. The semi-numbness you talk about is wearing off now. I thought I was cold this entire time but I didn't want to accept it. I don't know what you meant by being gentle to yourself. What methods of being gentle to myself did you mean? Because all I feel is guilt, anger, regret and mostly lethargic followed by just emptiness.

Grief brings with it all kinds of emotions, unanswered questions and as you mentioned guilt, anger, and regret. We tend to "beat ourselves up" for past occurrences and thoughts we now cannot address or fix. All this makes our loss more complicated.

What do I mean by being "gentle" with yourself? I mean forgive yourself for all the things you feel guilty about. Remember we always do the best we can with the information we have at the time. In hindsight, with more information, we may wish we had done things differently but in the moment we did the best we were able to do. No one sets out to do something badly.
So --- self forgiveness is a start.

One of the ways to let go of those areas you feel bad about is to write the person who has died a letter. Write everything you would say if you could. Put down all the positive and negative thoughts and feelings. When the letter is finished, burn it and imagine the feelings burning with the paper. You are releasing that which is keeping you from living with your grief.

Being gentle with yourself is putting yourself first. What makes you feel good? What do you need right now? If you could do, or go, or see, or say, anything what would it be? What is stopping you from realizing it?

Being gentle with yourself is recognizing your needs and getting them filled. Being gentle with yourself is not judging yourself for the past and moving forward with positive intentions.

We don't recover from grief. It doesn't go away on any magic day. We must learn to live with it. My hope is we let how well we go on living be the testament to the life we are mourning. Let how well we live life, express our love for the person who has died. Let our example be not about how many tears we shed but how well we move forward.

Something more about Be Gentle With Yourself... I have a booklet on grief called My Friend, I Care. You might find it helpful.

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Hi Liz, time to let go of the regrets and “wish I had’s”. Keep the “I miss you” and “I love you”. Dying is messy. It’s not easy and gentle like in the movies, that said, with your mother not eating and “starving to death”, at the point she couldn’t eat her body didn’t want to eat. She wouldn’t have been eating if she could have. Her body, from the stroke, was preparing to die and it would have stopped eating on its own as part of dying. Blessings! Barbara

Liz Bateman

Boy, I’ve been guilty since my mom died in 2005! She was 89 and needed total care when she had the “big one”, a stroke that left her unable to eat. Her doctor and I talked and agreed that to put in a feeding tube wasn’t a good plan, so I quit my teaching job and stayed with her (she also had a 24-hr caregiver) for the 3 weeks it took her to basically starve to death with no liquids either. We had hospice, too, but I still feel horrible about the decision. I have all of your books, and have shared them with several friends, but I still feel badly.


Thank you again Barbara for your kind words . I think they are exactly what many of us need at the moment .
We have to remember we did the best we could at the time . Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing and we blame ourselves what we should have done and what we did that perhaps we should not have . Dying is not something the average person deals with every day and ‘we did our best ‘ one has to hold onto that I think .


It has been 6 years since my mother died and as I told you before I keep a journal and it is still one of my ways of connecting with my mom.
I don’t write as often as I did but when certain things happen I let her know and include her in the occurrence. It makes me feel good and gives me satisfaction.
It is always normal to feel some guilt as we think back. But we must remember ( and it is hard )we cannot change the past.There are many things we have no control over.
I try to make myself focus on the good that I did and it eases the what if’s that we have.
There is no real answer to deal with death.
We cannot change the past therefore we must “let it go” and stop beating ourselves up.
Hopefully this will help someone having a difficult time dealing with the death of a loved one.
All of your books have helped me and I strongly recommend them to everyone.

Kathy Ebhardt

These are just the words I need at this moment. I told my Christian counselor last week that I will never be able to forgive myself for having to put my husband, who had Parkinson’s plus MSA, in some care facilities at times during his disease process. After four years of caregiving single handed I fell into a deep depression and I just could not care for him for a period of time. I was able to honor his wishes, though, to bring him home for the last year and a half of his life.
Thank you for your words as they are very soothing to me.

I am blessed to have a Libby Boatwright as a Pastor in my church. She performed my husband’s service two years ago and continues to be my friend. I know from her that you know each other. She said some wonderful things about you.

Two wonderful blessings now.

In Christ,


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