Amongst the other feelings you are experiencing at the moment, are there any that you might be hiding or not admitting to? The reason I bring this up is that I am wondering if you are feeling guilty because you feel relieved the person you loved has died?
If this resonates for you, what’s it like to see the word relief
, reflected back at you on this page?
It is really common to feel relief.
You may not feel brave enough to voice ‘the unmentionable’ for fear of being judged or worry you are the only one who feels guilty. You may have been through a torturous phase which might have gone on for a significant period of time. You gave up much of your own life to care for the one you loved, perhaps willingly, maybe not so, but either way it will have taken time, effort, emotional angst, patience, diplomacy, self-sacrifice, not to mention organisational and nursing skills.
But, even if you did it willingly and lovingly it does not negate the fact that you did ‘give up’ a lot. You might have given up your usual way of working, your time, looking after yourself properly or extra money which could have been earned. You possibly put your career on the back burner along with traveling, holidays, family time, dinners out or social engagements and you finally gave up visiting with friends during the last months and slowly became more isolated, possibly lonely and sad as a result.
You stood alongside this person and saw their slow deterioration, bit by bit losing more faculties, abilities, self-respect, dignity, charm and looks and possibly their sense of humor too. I am sure it was hard to watch that unfolding before your eyes.
Perhaps you didn’t speak about it, it may have been, ‘The Impossible Conversation’ and it was difficult or never the right time?
Some things are too excruciating for couples, parents or partners to bring up. Silence and secrecy can be a coping strategy, a way of getting through difficult times. Such strategies served a much needed purpose, and a very useful one at that, we should salute them, but they may not work so well afterwards.
Now though, it’s your time to rest, to reflect, to think, to reconnect with people, even to have fun, have sex (if you want to), to travel and to go back to work if you feel you can. You are probably thinking, "if I do have fun, what does that mean? Will people think I have forgotten him, am I not grieving properly, am I letting him or her down, am I not a suitable widow/parent/friend"?
When you feel ready to re-enter this changed and different world you find yourself in now, which seems to march forward without you, in spite of your grief, try and say to yourself, "I am allowed to rest, go out, meet friends, work more (or less), and have fun sometimes, it’s OK"
Remind yourself there is nothing to feel guilty about in embracing the freedom to do ordinary things that others take for granted. Grab the opportunities with open arms, this is your healing time, your re-engaging time, your catching up time and you deserve it wholeheartedly.
If any aspect of this blog today touches a raw nerve, and you are struggling with guilt or other unspoken emotions that are hard to cope with, do contact my counselling service
. I will call you back and have a chat, and we can take it from there to see if counselling might be supportive for you?
Photo: Joshua Earle on Unsplash
If you want to, tell us about your own experience of feeling relieved below: