Chapter 2: Why your grief may be different

Repetitive reflections

I've been there
Dana speaks about how her life changed during her brothers illness and after his death. (3:22)Video transcript
Jennifer shares Robby's story of substance use and his death. (3:22)Video transcript

I remember thinking,“I feel responsible for not knowing he was using substances. I could have prevented this.”

Trying to get help for her was like screaming into the wind. We could not get her the help she needed. Now my husband and I just feel total exhaustion. It was very difficult when she died, but before that, we felt so desperate all the time.

When someone has died, its natural to reflect on their life and their death. If the death felt somehow unfair or preventable, you may have certain repetitive thoughts. This is a normal, yet difficult, part of grieving as you try to come to terms with what has happened.

See below for some examples of thoughts you might be having:

Thoughts you may be having

Repetitive thoughts can sometimes lead into a loop that is often accompanied by feelings of guilt and remorse. Revisiting what has happened can also be an attempt to gain control over the situation or your wish for a different outcome. Recognizing and acknowledging such thoughts can help you to sort them and decide whether they make sense.

Though there are questions that you may work to rationalize as part of your grieving, try to leave the “should haves” aside, and be compassionate with yourself.

What may help...

  • Remind yourself that you have little or no control over others’ lives.
  • Consider that there may be things you know now that you didn’t or couldn’t know before they died.
  • Recognize and acknowledge the care and support you gave the person.
  • Forgive yourself for any times when you were not able to provide support, remembering that everyone’s energy and patience have limits.