This is a tough one. I only have my own experience of grief and I know that everyone’s experience is not the same. But guilt is an evil friend that pops in to torment you every now and again.
After my Mum died and then my Dad I have often thought ‘I wish I had been nicer to them’ or ‘I wish I had gone to visit them more’.
When you lose someone to suicide guilt can be a killer. If only… Why didn’t I…. I should have seen ….. It was my fault ….
My first and only grief counselling session started with the counsellor saying ‘So tell me about Toby?’ an hour later I walked out and sobbed and screamed all the way home in the car certain that I had as good as killed him. I was an overbearing mother, why didn’t I just leave him alone to live his life. I was always nagging him and asking him about how his bank balance was.
Of course my logical brain knows I was not responsible for my son taking his own life, but tell that to my non-logical brain. I believe that guilt can be one of the hardest emotions to deal with when someone close to you takes their life.
I read a short book (I will put a link to it on my links page), that I found on a website and I got to a line that read ‘You are not in any way shape or form responsible for your loved one’s death’. It told the reader to read this sentence over and over and tattoo it into their brain until they believed it to be true. When I read this sentence I just sobbed and sobbed some more. I felt I was being let off the hook, it wasn’t my fault.
I know I did the very best for my son and I know he knew it. I did what I thought was right out of love. What if I had left him alone and not helped and supported him and then he had killed himself. How would I feel then?
In the same book it gives two examples of parents wrecked with guilt, one Mother did everything like I did, and the other Mother let go, but each felt equally guilty when their child took their own life.
As parents guilt goes with the territory but I know now that I must believe that I was not responsible for my son’s actions. He made a decision (I don’t really like the word ‘choice’ for some reason) I will never understand, but I know I did everything I could for him when he was alive and he didn’t kill himself because of anything I did or didn’t do.
Believing this is a critical step in the healing process, so if you are struggling with this please read the book, because it helped me.