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Maybe it is because I am currently reading John Bradshaw's "Creating Love," but I have come upon this strange thought: perhaps some of my current feelings are rooted in the past.

Let me explain: I still feel a lot of pain about not having visited my father more when he was ill. I wonder sometimes, if I had visited him more, would I hurt less now? The urge is to say, no, I would not hurt less now. It would hurt the same, right?But...my grandmother passed away last month, and I visited her about a week before she passed. I wasn't as close to my grandmother as my father, and of course had different sort of relationship. Nevertheless, I feel that, right now, I feel so much better having visited my grandmother and spent good time with her before she passed on. So in a sense, I feel, had I visited my father more before he passed on, I would feel better now. So I regret, for my sake, not having visited him more.

I regret for him, too. I keep telling myself, my dad didn't expect more of me. He loved me for who I was, appreciated that, didn't ask for more. But this thought goes through my mind still, that I let him down. I wasn't there at the time when he needed someone most. He especially needed me; I knew how much I meant to him. His work and me were his main focuses in life. How could I not be there when he needed me so much (even though, being so giving and modest, he wouldn't say it aloud)?

Out of selfishness, out a need to retain normalcy, I stayed around school when he was ill (but I could have visited on the weekends sometimes) and didn't visit him more. If I had even visited him one more time, and say he'd said then, "Keep up with the schoolwork," then I would know I did right. I would feel okay that I was at school so much, and not visiting. But I didn't visit again, and I didn't hear him say 'keep up with your school.' So my mind is driving me crazy with this feeling that I let him down. Maybe I'm just in a mire of speculation and "maybes"...and this is all just, nonsense.

I can connect the immense pain I am feeling right now on the thought I let him down with feeling in the past like I let him down. I never went to live with him at any time over the years, even though he asked me to more than once. I didn't tell him enough how proud I was of him. He already must have had some feeling of inadequacy, because he couldn't get his business going, because of my mom and him separating when I was little. Then here he was ill with cancer last year, and I let him down with the biggest, worst let-down of all, by not being by his side as his loving daughter. I feel in a way I "sided" with my mother again, because I listened to her voice of practicality saying to wait for "the right time to visit," instead of listening to the voice of openess and love that was in my heart that my dad taught me. So I let him down more.

I don't know if what I said makes sense, and I know I rambled on, but I feel sortof crazy right now. How do I change my way of thinking? Will I always be haunted by this guilt/regret/pain from not visiting him more when he was ill? I want to not feel so crazy and heal, but I don't know what to do. It seems every time I come up with a temporary solution-thought, it is soon swallowed up by more sad thoughts.

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Chai ... I have looked at this post objectively and would say this to you. Yes you feel good that you visited your grandmother, but I don't think that it makes you grieve her less ... it's just that you have something positive (your memory of seeing her shortly before she died) to add to the "mix".

Please can you think of something similar concerning your Dad? To give it some balance.

I've got to tell you ... when I read your post, wow it felt/sounded just like the inner guilt/turmoil/worst demon that I went through ... after Cliff died ... part of the grieving process, my friend. The demon still visits me, but less often now.

I promise you that when I read your post Chair, hand on heart ... it was crystal clear to me that you haven't done anything wrong AT ALL ... except be the person that he would want you to be, and part of that is getting an education. I guess it was an option to give up school and go live with him, but no parent would want their child to give up their future ever.

So, ... to answer your question, I don't think for one second that you would hurt less at all. But you would have one less thing to feel bad about, even if it is, in my humble opinion, unjustified guilt.

I wouldn't tell you a white lie to make you feel better - I really do mean what I have said.

But you will still feel the way you do for a while, then less often, then even less frequently ... because it's what we do. I don't know why, because for me, apart from the pain of missing them, this is the worst part of the grief/loss process - because some of us just torture ourselves incessantly.

Hope another person's opinion has helped and not hindered ...



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Chai, please let me reassure you that you would probably still be having pretty much the same feelings no matter what. I told Tom every day of our lives together how much I loved him. I put him on a pedestal and did every thing I could to make him happy for almost 37 years and I still have many of the same feelings you are having. I was laying in bed with him rubbing his back, but still wonder if I could have done more.

This is all just part of our grieving and I'm not sure why or how long it will take to get over it, but 18 months in to this journey those feelings are still here

We WILL make it through this arm in arm and step by step

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Dear Chai,

I ache for you as I read the feelings of guilt that still torment you, though like Boo says, it is entirely normal. I don't think visiting more would have you grieving less. You were so utterly in awe and love of your dad, that your grief is directly proportionate to that. I told you how much your relationship reminds me of Bob's daughter. Her suffering continues so much that it has manifested in her physically. She is to the point of being crippled from it. I know that her dad would be horrified to cause this amount of agony in his dear daughter. I know your dad would also. I think we hold onto the guilt because we need to be able to find reason for this pain and because that is all we know to survive it. We easily feel we deserve it because we accept our imperfections. To live with any happiness means letting go. To do that, I hold tight to the promise that I will see my love again.

Some day, my friend, you will be ready to let it go and set both your dad and yourself free. You did nothing wrong.

Love, Kath

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  • 1 month later...

Hello Chai,

I do believe that some of what you are feeling does involved the past. It is a issue that you want to come to terms with so you will be able to go forward. You shouldn't beat your self up because you didn't visit your Dad as much as you wanted to. :glare: Maybe you feel that if you spent more time that the hurt wouldn't be as painful. :blush: You have to know that you had two different relationship between your grandmother and your Dad. No two relationships are the same, it doesn't mean you loved one less, it means that you loved your grandmother one way and your Dad another way. It isn't the time you spent with your Dad it is the quality time you were able to spend with him this is what is important. :rolleyes: I think that he knew how important your schools was, and he would of wanted you to continue on with that, if you didn't I think he would of been upset with you. By continuing on with school this made him proud, because you were doing something for you, you were making a life.

I would suggest that you take some quite time and get your thoughts together. When you figured out them, sit down and write him a letter and expressed what you are feeling, all of your thought not just some of them. Read it aloud it becomes more real, if you cry this is alright. When you get done doing these put the letter up so if you start to feel this way again, you can do it all over again. I don't know how many times I've done this, but I will tell you does help. If it doesn't then we will come up with something else. I believe that when you forgive your self you no longer be haunted by guilt/regret/and pain while he was in the hospital. One thing that I have learned is that the ones that are left behind will go threw crazy emotions, anger, regret, lost, feeling empty, crying,and the pain.... But if we could keep them close in our hearts there love will always be with us. Think of all the good times you had, and remember always THAT YOUR FATHER LOVED YOU VERY MUCH, AND HE WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU, BECAUSE YOU HOLD HIS HEART IN YOUR HANDS. I hope my reply gives you some hope, because eventually the pain will be easier to cope with.


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Thank you all so much for your replies.

Boo and em, it is comforting to know that we are all in this together, isn't it? And I think you both are right; I would be feeling the same either way, because Iguess it's just part of the whole thing...

Mary-Linda, what you said only reinforces that this a part of the process. You did so much for your Tom, soo much! And yet, the guilt is still there. We didn't do anything, just like Kath is saying. Kath, I'm so sorry to hear of Bob's daughter having such a hard time. I hope that she finds some ray of light even in all of this. It is hard to be strong, because just when we think we've gone a step forward, we go three steps back. and the guilt pops up now and again.

Deborah - Thank you for your very touching and sweet response. Your words are very moving. I must try and think of your words as I go through my tough school days. I like very much your idea of my writing out a letter to my dad telling him all of my thoughts, even the sad ones. And the idea of keeping the letter to re-read or re-write if needed, is excellent. We are broken people, and we are trying to learn to be new and patch ourselves back up, so it is necessary to repeat like that, to do a sort of therapy for ourselves.

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Chai - guilt and regret - two emotions I've gone through countless times. And we have so much time to think about it now. What I neglect to remind myself of is the panic I was in, the hope against hope that Joe would miraculously recover - I was just in survivor mode. You made such a good point when you said you feelings were rooted in the past. Who we were, who we are, our relationship with our loved one - I think it all comes into play when we're grieving. You're a writer - write for yourself - write down everything and anything that comes to mind, no matter how inconsequential. Write about your life and your love for your father. Write down your dreams. My journal's at about 140 pages. I think I've rehashed everything from when I popped from my mother's womb! It truly does help. Love and hugs, Marsha

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Marsha - You know, I also neglect being understand towards my past self. I also forget the panic I had, and then I judge myself and be hard on myself, just like you. Wow, writing down everything! That sounds amazing! I shall have to write down things more.

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Chai & everyone else here:

Just one more voice to add to the common feelings of guilt - I am there, exclamation point! I have said this in other posts, but I will reiterate. I wish I had done something sooner about Scott's alcoholism; that I had had the courage to take a stand earlier. Maybe then his body would not have been so weakened. When he was in the hospital, I wish I had visited him more often (he was in a hospital in a different city - same city as the in-patient treatment centre). But no, I decided to keep the visiting hours of the centre. Plus, I feared he would use my visits as a way to compel me to take him home rather than return to treatment. I didn't ever consider he might be as sick as he was. Why was I so blind? Why didn't I press the doctors and ask more questions? Why? Why? Why? Why couldn't/didn't I save him?! He would have saved me....

I try to take Boo's advice to heart - to examine these feelings over time, and put those with merit in one pile, and those without in another pile, in hopes that those without merit will be 100% full. I am still working on it. I am also talking to a counsellor. But it helps so much to know that whatever the specific circumstances, we seem to all have experienced these torturous feelings of guilt, and that hopefully they will abate.

And Chai, just from how you have described your father here and in other posts, there is no doubt in my mind that he would have wanted you to maintain your studies. I am sure he continues to be proud of you. Perhaps ask him for strength - I sometimes ask Scott for strength when I am about to face a very tough day or situation. And he comes through.

Big Hugs,


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