Strong For Too Long

Managing Depression & Anxiety

Dealing with Grief & Guilt Dealing with Grief & Guilt
I have been quite fortunate so far in that I haven’t had to experience the deaths of many family members or friends. I lost... Dealing with Grief & Guilt

I have been quite fortunate so far in that I haven’t had to experience the deaths of many family members or friends.

I lost my paternal grandmother a few years ago and last month I lost my maternal grandfather. But for a combination of reasons, none of which I understand, my emotions don’t seem to relate to the actual events of losing someone I love. This lead me to the question “Am I grieving properly?”

Everyone grieves differently, that much I know – but I feel like I am missing out on something, that my emotions are not strong enough if you will. Its a strange paradox because I am both glad that it is not effecting me as much as it could and yet feel guilty for not being more upset by the passing of a family member. It’s easy to blame the medication I am on for taking away some of the effect that loss can have, but that doesn’t really console me at all. Why should I feel it less than other members of my family just because of some pills.

I needed to take a pragmatic approach to death in order to process some of the thoughts which bugged me over the last few weeks. I’ve highlighted a couple of these thoughts below:

Why didn’t I just…

The first thing I felt guilty about was not visiting my grandfather in hospital. It was a semi-conscious decision as well as a coping mechanism for me. The reality was that even had I been there, he wouldn’t have known or remembered. And whilst part of me wanted to be by his side in the final days/hours I also selfishly wanted to preserve the memories I had of an incredibly strong and vibrant individual – not have these memories replaced by what the illness created.

Even though I made the decision not to visit, I still regret it and probably always will. What is hard to accept is that I know it was the right choice – it’s over now and there is no way to change that choice so I have to accept it,¬† but I also deep down feel that I have saved myself a lot of pain and heartache which I am sure he would be glad of too.

When does it ‘kick-in’?

Its been a little over two weeks since he passed and yet it still doesn’t seem real. When I visit my grandmother I still expect to see him in the chair when I turn the corner, or come back into the room – I still call the house “Granny & Grandads” – a habit I have to change for the benefit of others really. But every now and then when I’m thinking about him I get this sudden realization that he is gone – and my heart breaks again as I come to terms with what it means not to see him again or hear his voice, laugh or jokes.

So when does it kick in I wonder? When do I stop getting the sudden impact of the fact he isn’t here anymore? When does the pain and tight stomach feeling stop when I try to remember him.

Why the guilt?

The strangest part of all of it, is the guilt – and this is most likely linked to my own depression and anxiety but it makes the suffering just that little bit worse.

  • I feel guilty for not spending enough time with him when he was alive, a feeling I think most people grieving have.
  • I feel guilty for not visiting him in hospital.
  • I feel guilty because I feel like I am not upset enough

It’s the third one that is bugging me, what is the correct amount of ‘sadness’ to feel, and how do I know if I am above or below that level? I haven’t cried for over 15 years (not for lack of trying on occasion) but I haven’t shed a tear over the death of a close family member despite wanting too. There is a certain level of numbness associated with this time and I feel bad that I am isolated from it – I feel like I am not being allowed to grieve by my depression and that I am missing out on something which should be ultimately therapeutic even if it is horrible.

Sam Fields Editor

Writer and designer for Strong For Too Long. Sam has fifteen years experience managing severe Depression & Anxiety and writes about it to help others. Interests include reading, astronomy and engineering.

No comments so far.

Be first to leave comment below.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.