The Crushing Guilt of “Grieving Wrong”

Note: if you haven’t read Part 1: The First Days of Grief, you might want to start there.

We flew to New York the morning after the funeral.

For me, the hardest part of grieving has been the crushing guilt of always feeling like I’m somehow grieving the wrong way.

Some days, I drown myself in tasks, projects, and rigid schedules. Other days, I can barely get out of bed.

On the days that I waste, I feel guilty. For letting life pass me by, for not taking the opportunities I’ve been given. I feel guilty because he loved life so much, and he doesn’t get the chance to live it anymore, and I feel like I need to live for both of us.

On the days that I’m okay, I feel even worse. For daring to smile, for having the audacity to get up and do tasks and (god forbid) enjoy myself, even though my favourite person is no longer around.

Nobody told me that grieving was going to be this confusing. Hard, yes, but not like this.

The first rule of grief is “forgive yourself for everything”.

I am trying to forgive myself for the adventures we had planned and didn’t get to go on. I try to remind myself that he knew how incredibly loved he was. I never missed an opportunity to tell him. I did my best.

And I’m trying to forgive myself for grieving in whatever way I need to right now.

This morning, I was walking down the East River; the sunlight shining on the water, waves crashing against the rocks, little pink flowers sharing their subtle sweet perfume as they peek through walls of green, and for a moment I was perfectly happy. 

He would have loved this.

And maybe it just gets to be what it is.

The day after he passed, I drove his little grey Volkswagen home. I got in the car and said: “Come on, gramps, we’re going on an adventure. And I’m driving this time.”

Practical note: I am working through the Grieving course on Headspace and I find it very helpful. They seem to understand what it is like to show up for a meditation (of all things) when you’re Very Very Sad.
If you need immediately support, don’t hesitate to call your local mental health/emergency services. If you prefer texting, you can find a crisis text line here.

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