Guilt…such a small word; nevertheless, no matter how unwarranted the guilt can be, it carries a gut, wrenching punch. Guilt engulfed my being and took root after my husband’s death as I wrestled with the fact that I wasn’t with him for the few hours leading up to his demise. Are you haunted by any feelings of guilt surrounding your husband’s passing?
My husband fought a harrowing, nine month battle with cancer. His last 2 ½ months we lived in the hospital. It was 12:30 am; I called my caretaker to check-in. My youngest, with severe autism, was having a rough night. The doctors and nurses encouraged me to go home, take care of my daughter’s needs, and suggested that I get some sleep. They reassured me that they would call with the slightest change. I debated going, as I didn’t want to leave him; yet, pulled myself away. We kissed and exchanged our love.
When I got home to my daughter, I held her, rubbed her back, sang to her, and comforted her until she drifted off to sleep. A few hours later, I was awoken from my slumber as the phone rang. The nurse said he was almost gone. The drive in was a blur, except for my screams and petitions sent above. His hands were already turning blue; his breath minimal-there was no apparent signs of life. I embraced him, released him to God, told him that the angels were singing hallelujahs waiting for his arrival, and again for the zillionth time, how much I loved him. As I leaned over to kiss him, he took his last breath.
What happened when I was gone? Why didn’t they call me earlier? I have grappled with the “should have, could have, and if only” syndrome. What if I had stayed? What if I had woken up and returned to the hospital earlier? In hindsight, my faith in the Master Designer plan has always permeated my soul. However, not being there during that time frame ripped at my heart.
My grief counselor in his compassionate, insightful way told me recently that these chains were literally holding me back from renewal and restoration. He said my feelings of mistakes were groundless, unjustified, unwarranted and did not have any validity. That I had no power to govern what was destiny. I believe as woman, in our nurturing, fostering, caretaker roles, we sometimes forget that we have no control over certain aspects of life. Maybe my husband wanted to spare me the pain of watching him slip away? Maybe he made the choice, so that I didn’t have to? Undoubtedly, his unfailing love truly shined forth even during his demise. As I strive to filter my guilt through the lens of divinity and not my own understanding, I have come to rest in the knowledge that I was not responsible.
If feelings of guilt concerning your husband’s death are holding you hostage, please allow yourself to let go, relinquish, liberate, and recognize that you did nothing wrong. Treat yourself with respect, kindness, and forgiveness. You are so worthy, whole, good, and beautiful. I repeat…you did nothing wrong!
I originally posted this blog on September 17, 2014. As always, you are welcome to comment and or/share.
May Blessings and Grace Surround You,
~Lisa Dempsey Bargewell
I will be back on June 24th.