Death and loss touch everyone in often unexpected and profound ways. They produce a mix of thoughts and feelings and impact an individual’s life on many levels. Some reactions are obvious and some are more subtle.
Aside from the feelings of pain and loss there can be some unrecognized, uncomfortable feelings associated with the passing of someone close to you that you cared about. Sometimes there are unexpected feelings of shock, numbness, regret, guilt and longing.
Even when the decline is prolonged and death is imminent, the death itself, when it occurs, can still come as a shock. It is often hard to believe that the person is truly gone.
People often experience an immediate numbness. It allows them to get through the initial days after the death. When it wears off the person feels the loss more acutely. This can bring increased pain and grief. There can also be feelings of regret especially if you were not there and you were unable to say, “Good Bye.” There are frequently feelings of inadequacy and guilt.
When death is near
We sometimes fear
We sometimes dread
The words and deeds we left unsaid.
It came so suddenly, your end.
Did I do enough my friend?
Was I there when you needed me?
Was I the best that I could be?
The finality and irreversibility of the death invokes certain unique feelings as well. People frequently want one more minute with the deceased. One more question to ask. One more statement they feel the need to make. One more word they want to hear. One more reassurance that they are looking for. Make sure you are as attentive as you can be to those experiencing a life threatening illness. Then there will be fewer regrets and less or no guilt.
Very often the family and friends experience a special wish and longing. They are not ready to let the individual go “I wanted more time with you.” expresses their feelings after the loss.
Patricia Frank is a Licensed Psychotherapist. She can be reached at 305-788-4864