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How to Handle Regrets After a Loss

Regret: it’s one of the biggest and most common emotions a person can experience after losing someone. On top of the pain of the actual loss, the feelings of regret come rushing through, making even the strongest of us ask “what else could I have done? Why didn’t I do more? Why didn’t I treat them better? Why didn’t I say what I needed to say?”. These emotions can be tough to work through, and bereavement services in San Mateo and elsewhere can help light the way.

Guilt vs.Regret

These two terms are often used interchangeably but they do have subtle differences:

  • Guilt is the feeling we get when we do something we know is wrong while we are actually doing it, usually in regards to ethical, moral, or legal reasons, says What’s Your Grief.
  • Regret is what we experience when we look back on something we did and realize we could have or should have handled the situation differently. Because we didn’t know what we were doing at the time was wrong, this is why regret is different than guilt. It’s all about the “looking back” part that makes regret what it is.

Now that you know the emotion you’re experiencing is regret, you can start to move past it. It takes time, and it can be painful, but with the right steps and patience, you can learn to forgive yourself. Self-forgiveness is a daily choice you have to make, a conscious decision, and a deliberate act of compassion for yourself points out Blossom Tips.

Tips For Dealing With Regret

Here are some tips you can employ to help yourself deal with the regret you’re feeling after loss.

  • Talk about what you regret saying and doing: It’s important to be honest about what it is you have regretted. It’s helpful to write down those feelings, whether in a blog post, journal, or just a piece of paper. You can throw it out later, burn it, crumple it or save it: your choice. The important thing is to get the feelings out of you.
  • Be honest: This isn’t a time for worrying about what people will think. Everyone has feelings of regret — it’s a relatable emotion. Be honest with yourself about those raw emotions so you can get in touch with them and move past them eventually.
  • Don’t worry about time lapse: You may feel regret about the loss of a loved one that happened this week, or the loss of a loved one that happened 10 years ago. Understand there is no time limit on grief and regret. You have a right to your emotions, whether they’re fresh or long-standing. It’s never too late to start working on the recovery process. When you bring your words and actions into the light of day, you can start handling those regrets that have been haunting you.
  • Get help: One-on-one counseling can be very helpful and act as a confidential sounding board for your feelings. If this isn’t a step you want to pursue right now, a support group could be another good avenue. You can voice your feelings of regret to others who are facing the same situation as you, which can provide comfort knowing you’re not alone.
  • Ask for forgiveness: Even though your loved one has passed, it’s never too late to seek forgiveness. There are many ways to do this. You can write a letter and read it aloud, take a long walk alone and talk it out, reconnect with people who were close to your loved one and with whom you had previously cut ties, and right the wrongs that were created — even after their death. This may involve making amends with relatives of your loved one that you have been estranged from, for instance.
  • See yourself as human: Once you are able to get an outlet for your emotions, you will finally be able to view yourself as what you are: a fallible and fragile human being. You can still be full of compassion, love, and humanity even though you have some strong regrets after a loss. When you can recognize the pain you’re feeling is because you loved the person so much, you can finally understand the beauty in it.

Regret can eat a person up if left to fester. Many people never get over regret, guilt, and a whole host of other emotions that happen after they lose someone that was so dear to them. Coping with these emotions as they happen can help avoid years of remorse and feelings of having failed another person.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

We offer a variety of bereavement services to help people work through their feelings, including regret, after loss. Memorial workshops, one on one counseling, support groups…you name it, we offer it. Contact us today at 888-978-1306 to learn more about our helpful programs.