Some may argue in what order the stages occur, but the order may be different for everyone. The stages are not exact for everyone, but are a blueprint so that you know what may happen at some point while you’re grieving.
Some lump bargaining in with the guilt stage. I don’t recall bargaining for anything but that doesn’t mean you won’t experience this. You may try to make a bargain with God for your loved one’s life. It’s a totally understandable state of mind when grieving.
When we lose someone we tend to eventually blame ourselves-if only I’d done this or that, if only I’d noticed their health was deteriorating, if only I’d been kinder. This kind of thinking can make you come undone.
I don’t mean to sound callous, but the awful, hard truth is that you can’t bring them back and you weren’t responsible for their death. In most cases no one in particular is to blame.
With that said, I do understand guilt. It’s been 5 years since my husband’s death and 3 years since my boyfriend’s and I still occasionally feel guilty about some things. The difference is that now I can shake those guilt feelings off and not dwell on them.
Writing this post reminds me of an interview I saw a long time ago with Waylon Jennings, an iconic country singer. He was in Buddy Holly’s band and was great friends with him. The following video explains what happened the day of Holly’s death. Waylon was supposed to be on the plane but let Big Bopper have his seat. Buddy told Waylon that he hoped he froze on the bus and Waylon told him he hoped his plane crashed. It was all in fun, but as we know, the worst did happen.
What’s not in this video, and I cannot find it anywhere on the web, is what Waylon’s friend said to him years later. He asked Waylon if he would bring them back if he could. Of course he said he would. His friend told him that since he couldn’t bring them back, he couldn’t have been powerful enough to have killed them in the first place.
Think of the overpowering guilt that Waylon Jennings must have felt for the rest of his life. Don’t allow guilt to consume you. It’s a simple statement, but what Waylon’s friend told him has resonated with me for a long time now. It’s so true. We are not in charge of when someone passes away and we can’t bring them back.
Something else to ponder on: ask yourself if you purposely did anything to your loved one to hurt them. I’m sure the answer is NO. You wouldn’t have done that, so maybe you have nothing to feel guilty about. Maybe you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.
When guilt rears it’s ugly head try not to give in to the belief that you’re responsible for your loss. Your loved one would not want this for you. Things happen and sometimes it doesn’t matter what we do to, we can’t prevent it from happening.
Even though guilt is normal at this time, it’s an awfully heavy burden. It’s natural to want to assign blame when we’re hurting, but try to keep your focus on recovery and remind yourself of the above information. Click here for more articles on grieving from PsychCentral. I also have an article with tips to help get through your grief.