Chapter 2: What may be different about your grief

What may help

I've been there
Paul speaks about feelings of guilt in grief and about remembering the real person who died.(3:22)Video transcript

Loneliness and sadness were my new reality. I became more removed from friends and family, feeling that I didn’t deserve to be present. Guilt was very present. Why had I been impatient with her? Why did I not recognize the seriousness of her illness?

Feelings such as guilt, regret, shame, anger, and betrayal can either help or hinder you in your grief. For example, your feelings of guilt or regret may lead you to change your future behaviour or to find ways to forgive yourself. The anger you feel toward your spouse for leaving you with unwanted tasks may motivate you to learn a new skill or recognize untapped abilities.

There may be times when you feel disappointed in yourself, thinking that you’ve made no progress. You may even think that you are “worse” now than when your partner first died. If you think you have gone backward, you can end up feeling ashamed or critical of yourself; but this back-and-forth is a very normal part of the grieving process. Your “bad” moments or days won’t last forever; and neither will the good ones. Grief has its own rhythm and is not the same for everyone.


What may help

  • Remind yourself that one feeling doesn’t “cancel out” another. Feeling relief doesn’t mean you can’t also feel sadness or another emotion.
  • After a death, it’s common to revisit various interactions and wish for a “do-over.” You might wish that you could somehow go back in time or push a rewind button.
  • It’s important to acknowledge all of your thoughts and feelings, and then reflect to see if they match reality. Sorting things out in this way can help to prevent you from getting stuck in your grief.
  • Reach out for support from friends and family, as you need it.
  • Be patient with yourself and with your grief.
  • If you continue to struggle with difficult feelings or feel stuck, consult with a grief counsellor. They can help you sort out your thoughts and feelings, and look at things from a different perspective.

For additional information on What may be different about your grief, see Chapter 3 - Identifying your losses - Other Losses