QUESTION: Would you write about guilt? My husband died two weeks ago and I wish I had been more aware of what he was going through but I wasn’t. So did I make it harder for him? I didn’t read “Gone From My Sight” until a few days before he died. I find myself thinking more and more --I wish I had-- . . .
I don’t think we ever set out to consciously do a “bad” job or not do the best we can. We do the best we can with the information available to us at any given time. Unfortunately, over time, we often learn there was a different way, or a better way, to do something and then guilt sets in. We forget that we didn’t have the knowledge at the time or we would have lived the experience differently.
You took care of your husband in the only way that you knew how, period. Now is not the time to second guess yourself, to have recriminations.
Did you make it “harder” on him? I don’t know the details but my guess is probably not. When it is time for the body to die, a process begins and continues in spite of what is going on around and about us. We will slowly stop eating no matter how much encouragement we get to eat. We will sleep more no matter how often someone wakes us up and tells us we shouldn’t be sleeping. We will withdraw slowly from those around us and focus inward. This is the natural way people die and they will do just that whether loved ones try to interfere with the process or not.
I would like you to consider writing your husband a letter. Quietly sit and write to him what is in your heart, the feelings you have about the way you reacted to his dying. Put all the thoughts of concern you are having about how you cared for him down on paper. Let the words and the tears come. Write from your heart then do something special with this letter. You can put it in a special place and keep it or burn it and scatter the ashes. Your husband will get your message, know your regrets, and you can move forward without the guilt as part of your grief.