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Am I To Blame?

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:( My ex died Sept. 11 of last year. We had dated for over 2 years and had broken up about 2 weeks before he died. My ex was a drug addict and used to abuse me horribly physically and mentally. I had finally gotten up the courage and the strength to leave him. For good. He had moved his stuff out of my house and I had stopped communicating with him. I was ready to move on with my life. Sept. 10, my cousin, my youngest child (at the time she was 2) and I came home from somewhere. We had my jack russell terrier with us. We got out of the car and were crossing the road to my house when my ex came barreling up the road and almost hit my dog. He took the road across from my house and circled back around and parked the car. I was furious. I was yelling at him for being so wreckless and all but when he got out of the car, I realized he was badly messed up on something. He got on the porch and pushed his way past my cousin who was holding my baby in order to get into the house. I knew then that there would be trouble.

To make a long story short, we fought and argued. He threatened and threw things and, when that didn't work, he begged and cried and pleaded with me for one more chance. I was done. I knew that I was done. And I told him so. With no other choice because he wouldn't leave, I called the police who eventually convinced him to leave. I didn't hear from him anymore that night or the next day. I was thinking he'd gotten the message and I was relieved. That next day, Sept. 11 as sad a day as it already is for Americans, my friend, cousin and I were sitting in the living room watching t.v. when I received a telephone call from a friend of his. They had found my ex dead. He had overdosed. I was devastated. That isn't even the word. I started screaming and crying. It was unreal. My cousin and friend had no idea what was going on. My first instinct was to go to his mother whom I had been really close to at one point. However, when my cousin and I pulled in there his aunt came out and told me I'd done enough already and needed to go home. His sister came out and was screaming at me and crying saying how it was my fault. That was the first time the thought that I was to blame entered my mind.

The next stop was his friend's where it had all happened. Those poor boys were crushed. Beyond belief. In their despair I thought they blamed me too and all I could do was say I was sorry and leave.

A host of people that love and care about me were in and out of my house in the days following. It's all a blur. I was still in shock. Then I received a phone call from his aunt telling me that I was not welcome at his funeral. Wow. What a blow. But in their grief, I didn't want to add to their pain. So I agreed. My cousin and I sat outside that funeral home the night of the funeral and watched people come in and out, without being able to say goodbye ourselves. After that, he was cremated and his ashes spread in another state hours from where I live. It was so final but yet so unreal.

My children, my loved ones and I have mourned and mourned. I've been in counseling, on medication, to grief sessions. I've moved on in life and am actually in another relationship with a wonderful man. But I'm stuck. I still blame myself and his family still blames me. I've talked to his friends and know that they don't but the unbearable grief, pain, and guilt I carry drives me crazy. I haven't been able to move on, to move past.

I'm reaching out. Trying to find answers. Trying to rid the control this grief has on my life. I still am not 100% sure if he killed himself on purpose or on accident. There was no note or anything that I am aware of and his friends swear to me he wouldn't have done it on purpose. I'm not so sure. His family blames me for some reason.

Every time I hear a siren or see something about someone on drugs, my heart stops. I imagine the pain his family feels, his friends. What he went through that night all alone. I relieve that night over and over. The night before. I want to move on. I want to be healed. I want peace.

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I am sorry for your loss. And I am sorry for the additional pain caused to you by his family. No, it is not your fault. I is not your fault that he was a drug addict and that you couldn't live with abuse anymore. You were not responsible for his life, and you're not the one who could change him. No matter how hard we try to help somebody, it is up to them to make a decision.

Nobody has the right to say it's your fault in any way, and you shouldn't blame yourself.

The reason why his family blames you could be that they really feel it is their fault, but it is too hard to admit it. They maybe feel that they should have prevented him from becoming a drug addict, and they need someone else to blame - which unfortunately is you, as the most logical victim, being his ex-girlfriend.

I have a feeling that you think you don't have the right to grieve. You didn't attend the funeral because you didn't want to add to their pain. But it's not just their pain, it's yours too. You have every right to grieve, you had every right to say goodbye, and you have the right to talk about your grief, without feeling guilty.

You didn't say if you ever talked to his family, after he died. You say you were close to his mother. Maybe you could call her sometime again, or write her a letter and explain her how you feel. MAybe you'll be able to talk. If not, you'll know that you have tried.

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Guest PattiZ54

LRL - Of course his family blames you....as Spela said, they need someone to blame. They certainly are not going to admit that it might have been their fault. First of all, they are still distraught. Hopefully once some time has gone by you will be able to get in touch with his family(his mom) and you all can talk and grieve together.

You CAN NOT blame yourself. HE was the one that decided to do drugs and that can not be your fault. I do understand how you can feel that way, but if you think about it logically you'll see that it wasn't anything you did.

I AM sorry for your loss and the pain that you are going through. We are here for you and feel free to come here as often as you need - we're here to listen and hopefully can offer you some comfort. I won't lie to you 'cause it is a tough road, but you'll get through it. We will help you!

<<<<LRL>>>>> (that's a big hug for you!)


(Charlie 6/10/58-11/16/2004; I love & miss you, Dear!)

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Dear One,

In addition to the assurances you've received from Spela and Patti that this tragic death most certainly is not your fault, I want to suggest that you visit the Suicide Loss page on my Grief Healing Web site, which contains a number of links to relevant resources that you may find quite useful in this situation. See especially those sites aimed at survivors of suicide. Even though a death related to an overdose may be accidental, it is a suicide nonetheless, and the issues for the survivors of such a tragic loss are very much the same. You might also want to see some of the sites listed on my Traumatic Loss page.

I'd also like to share with you the following, which I've taken from Helen Fitzgerald's The Mourning Handbook:

If there was a problem of alcohol or drug abuse in the life of the deceased, you may have added issues to deal with. Substance abuse often creates discord within a family that will negatively affect relationships. Given time, your loved one might have gained control over his or her addiction and resolved the problems created by it. Deprived of that time, this person may have died with the problems unresolved, leaving you with conflicting feelings of anger, perhaps, and sorrow, not really knowing how you should feel.

The nature of the substance abuse and the type of problems it creates will vary with each person. Your loved one may have been inclined to drink too much, but it may have been done in such a way that it did not interfere with your life. On the other hand, substance abuse is usually not this benign. Often a family member who has been involved with alcohol or drugs becomes verbally, sexually or physically abusive when under the influence. Paychecks or savings may have been spent on the alcohol or drugs, creating serious problems for the family. In cases like this grief is certain to be complex. If you are mourning the death of a loved one under such circumstances, think for a moment of the extra issues you have to deal with in addition to the death. Write your issues down so you can look at them, one at a time. Getting them down on paper will help you become more objective about them, and it also will make those issues less powerful and more manageable for you. If you have enlisted the help of a therapist, he or she can be more helpful when you have these particulars clearly in your mind.

It may occur to you or your therapist to bring other family members into the discussion. However, you should not feel hurt if they are not as ready as you are to look at these issues. Everyone has to deal with such issues at his or her own pace. If and when they are ready, they will know that they can come to you to say whatever they have to say on the subject. For additional support contact your local mental health center or substance abuse center to learn if there is an appropriate support group you could attend, such as a support group for the adult children of alcoholic parents.

-- Source: "Complicated Grief: Substance Abuse," in The Mourning Handbook, © 1994 by Helen Fitzgerald, Fireside Publishing, New York, NY

I sincerely hope this information helps, my dear, and I hope you will keep us posted on how you are doing.

Wishing you peace and healing,

Marty T

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Everyone is right...it is not your fault. Unless you actively put those drugs in his mouth or veins ( whatever type they were ), it is not your fault and it's as simple as that. It is also not his family's fault, either, in the same sense. It may not even be your ex's fault, in the sense that he was just terribly mistaken in his thought patterns. He made a mistake, and a tragic one, which harmed many other lives as well as his own. But everyone is responsible for their own destiny and everyone has to make their own choices, as best they can. You can pity someone, you can sympathize with them, empathize with them, understand them, love them....but everyone ultimately chooses their own thoughts and actions. When drugs &/or alcohol is involved, these kinds of tragedies can easily and commonly happen. It is also common for those of us who get caught up with abusive people to blame ourselves for all sorts of things that weren't our responsibility, but you don't have to buy into that.....and that is your choice. It's often not easy to rid ourselves of these equally-self-destructive habits and patterns, but it can be done. As Marty mentioned, there are many resources out there for situations and relationships like this, and I hope you will avail yourself of as many of them as you might need, and that you won't waste your own life with guilt that doesn't belong on your head. That would be a double tragedy.

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I have not yet read the responses to your posting, I will go back and read them when I am done replying, I wanted my words to be from the gut of my heart so you could know these are my true feelings and not influenced by anyone else's reply, so if I double up on something someone else has already said, just take it as confirmation.

No, you are absolutely not to blame! You made the only right choice you could. It was him that made the wrong choices. That doesn't make him a bad person, just one who didn't know better or who was inept at carrying out what he knew he should. He is to be pitied, but certainly you should feel no guilt. It is very wrong of anyone to put that on you, but unfortunately, sometimes family does that. It is easier for them to blame someone else because that absolves them and their loved one of any responsibility. I would encourage you to get counseling to help you let go of any such guilt feelings. You deserve to have a happy and positive life and you have taken the steps to do so, just keep going in those steps. I am very sorry for your loss. You should not have been robbed of the chance to say goodbye. You loved him too, you just didn't love the wrong choices and abuse...and who would? You could not continue to allow that in your children's lives, and if someone is unstable, how can you know what they would or could do? Children need protected above all. Please do all you can to go on and have a good life...try to remember the good about your ex and lay to rest the bad and move on. You might need help doing that, but it's worth working on. Good luck, I know the healing takes a lot of effort but it's outcome is peace.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Dear LRL,

I am so very, very, sorry for your lost, and I am very sorry that the family blames you for his death. The family is really hurting as you are and they are just trying to cope the best they can as you are also trying to cope. It is easier to deal with a situation when you have a reason and that is why they are blaming you. I am going to pray for you to ask God to reach down and hold you and to give you strength that you need to deal with the death of your loved one and also the family of your loved one. And if it is okay I am going to pray for His family and to ask God to give them strength they need to go on and to know that it is not your fault. Take care and God Bless You Shelley

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