Chapter 3: Challenges you may face

No chance to say goodbye

I've been there
Esther shares about her brother's traumatic death and how creating art with clothing of people who have died has been a way to honour memories and grieve.(3:22)Video transcript

I feel terrible that I didn’t say “I love you” or “Be careful” when he left the house.

Even though I knew that she was going to die from her illness, I was stunned when she died so suddenly.

It can be distressing and upsetting to not have been able to say goodbye to someone who has died. This is often the case where a death was sudden or unexpected. 

Perhaps you’re wondering if they knew how much you loved them, or you may struggle with regret or guilt that you weren’t there to comfort them. If you had “unfinished business” or an argument with the person before they died, you may have complicated feelings about no longer having the opportunity to speak with them. 

What may help

  • Remind yourself that you had no way of knowing when or how the person was going to die.
  • It can be helpful to call up memories of times when you told the person what they meant to you. You could also ask what they would say in response to your feelings of guilt or regret.
  • Regret can be useful if it leads you to make changes going forward in your life. Consider how you might do things differently in other relationships you have. This can be a way of honouring the memory of the person who has died.
  • If there were difficulties or conflict in your relationship with the person, consider writing a letter to them, expressing whatever feelings or thoughts you didn’t have a chance to share with them.