Guilty feelings after loss are that you did not do enough, made the wrong decisions, took too much action or not enough action, could have given more pain medication or gave too much pain medication, could have stayed longer, visited more, prevented the fall, stayed at the hospital for a few more minutes longer, and the list goes on and on. Memories flood during the night and sleep is often nonexistent. The tears of sorrow become the tears of guilt because the memory of someone suffering is too much to bear. The intrusive thoughts of guilt keep us focused on something in the past we believe we could have changed but may not have been possible at the time. Flashbacks of an incident remain in your memory keeping the guilt alive and the result may be depression. So the next step after loss may be to release the guilt feelings to reduce the chances of a great depression and start to care for yourself. Easier said than done, but it is a step in the right direction.
Many ways to begin caring for yourself could be exercise or walks, meet with a friend who had similar experiences, journal your thoughts and feelings, watch comedies, get a massage, meditate, eat healthy foods, and definitely attend individual or group therapy and talk about the feelings of guilt. Share those feelings of guilt and expose those feelings so they no longer control you. The care and support you provided may have been significant enough to cause symptoms of PTSD so do take your feelings seriously. Take care of yourself for doing an enormous job of caring for your loved one because you had the strength to be the caregiver. Now it’s time to take care of you.