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Overwhelmed With Regret And Guilt

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Hello to whoever reads this. First of all I want to say I hope you are having a good day and thanks for at least giving me a shot and opening my topic. Second of all I think this is probably going to be long. Just so you know before you start.

My name is Josh. I'm currently 30 years old. In the beginning of January 2009 I needed a place to live. I was talking about my situation with a coworker of mine named Candace and she told me she had a spare room and that I could stay with her. I was apprehensive because I didn't know her super well, and I don't like to impose. She seemed super nice though. Additionally the last few weeks leading up to this conversation we had been texting quite frequently, and conversationally got along well. I decided to give it a shot, and it was by far the best decision I have ever made in my life. I moved in right away. The chemistry we had was crazy amazing. I initially slept on the couch, but never made it to my own room because in less than 7 days we were both in love. I married Candace on February 21, 2009. Shortly after Michelle, now 10 years old - then 3 years old, stopped calling me Josh and started calling me Daddy. This was great because I fell in love with her the first day I met her. This happened to be about 3 days before I fell in love with her mother.

Candace and I had our fair share of what I guess are behavioral and emotional issues that included anxiety and clinical depression. Candace also had PTSD. Most of this was left untreated far more often than not. We both have past histories of substance abuse. We both have relatively difficult families. Candace did not have a good childhood and as I reflect on what I remember of mine now while it wasn't necessarily bad it was significantly flawed. The point I'm getting at is from day one we had a good share of things and personality flaws that challenge a relationship. We had plenty of ups and downs. There never seemed to be anything in the middle though. Things were ridiculously amazing when they were up, and painfully challenging when they were down.

I had an unhealthy alcohol habit when we got together. Unsurprisingly it caused issues for us. It eventually caused issues significant enough for me to give it up completely so I could willingly eliminate something that never brought any benefit to my life or our relationship. Within a month or two she was pregnant with my first biological child, a girl, and I was happier than I've ever been. Hayden was born on May 10, 2011.

I had gotten fired from my job very soon after Candace became pregnant with Hayden which did cause significant strain. The positive that we tried to take from it though was that I would be a stay at home dad until Hayden was in school. Our regular ups and downs continued.

In 2012 while Candace was pregnant with my second biological child, another girl, I decided that I was unhappy and confused to the point that I thought leaving would make things better. So I left thinking the literal and figurative space would somehow solve all my conflict. It didn't. If anything it made things worse. My alcohol habit came raging back. It took way longer than I hoped to get a job that wasnt even very good. I was using a borrowed car. I only knew 2 people. I didn't know how I was going to see my kids as regularly as I wanted because I had moved so far away. I missed them terribly. I missed Candace. The whole time she tried to get me to come home and after 2-3 months I agreed. 3 days later she made the 5 hour drive to pick me up and bring me home. 2 months later on December 28, 2012 Emma was born.

Now the plan was that I'd be a stay at home dad until Emma was in school. Our ups and downs continued as normal. Life, work, finances, children, family, and friends all took heavy tolls on us. I however finally legitimately had the opportunity to pursue professional mental health help so I did. I went to therapy and was on a handful of meds including lithium, abilify, and cymbalta. None of that seemed to be helping and I began to struggle enormously with what I call suicidal fantasy. I wanted to kill myself so badly but knew that I couldn't get myself to. It made its way into my thoughts daily. I'm sure it was incredibly difficult to deal with me and Candace wasn't perfect but there were many times she did try to help. She sometimes shared with me positive thoughts and suggestions among other things. I dont think I saw it at the time and if I did I certainly wasn't appreciative. In September of 2014 I left again. This time however it was only 5 minutes away instead of 5 hours.

It was incredibly emotional and raw this time and soon after leaving we stopped talking and didn't see or speak to each other until January 2015. We had a parenting plan, someone who transported the kids between us so we didn't have to see each other, and I got to see my kids regularly. During this time apart I went through a phase of heavy drinking yet again. It didn't last long however, because I just got tired of drinking, and I feel I'm actually done with that for good. Once that ended I started making many changes in my life, and in my mind. I went through a tremendous amount of growth. I was officially taken off all medications though I had quit taking them as soon as I left. My therapy schedule was changed from every other week to as needed. I was getting physically healthier. Candace was doing her own thing as well. After two months she decided I wasn't coming back and she got a new boyfriend, Chris. Based on many conversations I've read between the two of them, and numerous accounts from roommates, friends, and family their relationship was not legit at all, and I completely believe she was with him in an attempt to fill a void I put in her. They didn't get along and fought daily. They broke up and got back together more times than I recall.

I got to a place in my life where I felt happier than ever. I felt I understood what life was all about. I felt I knew exactly what I wanted and who I wanted to be. Candace and I were talking to each other and getting along well. We saw each other regularly because we no longer had someone transport the kids. I picked them up myself for visiting.The only thing that would make it perfect was having my family. I missed having my family. I missed Candace. I wanted to go back home and I knew if I got to that things were going to be better than ever before. I knew without a doubt we were going to be a happy family and things were going to be good. Candace and I were going to have a marriage that made people envious. On Thursday April 9 I went to Candaces home, our home, to pick up the girls for my visitation. I stayed much longer than usual. I had made the decision that I wanted to go back to them if they would have me back and I was in a great mood. Candace and I stood outside just laughing and talking while the kids played in the yard. She was smiling brighter than I had seen her smile in a long time. She had made a comment that I was being the man she fell in love with and married. I told her we needed to talk. I told her I missed her. I told her I missed our family. She had to go to a parent teacher conference so our visit was cut short. We made tentative plans to meet up again later that evening so we could talk. Before I left however I gave her a hug. It wasn't just a hug though. The hug is very significant to me. We didn't hug a lot and I had decided that one of the things I wanted to do was be more affectionate with her. So before I left I really hugged her. I wrapped my arms tightly around her. I buried my face into her neck and took in a very deep breath. I was taking her in. I held it for a good moment. It felt amazing. I was saturated with positive feelings. She made the comment that I was shaking. It was very emotional, and as we ended the embrace and I looked to smile at her I noticed her face was lit with happiness I hadn't seen in a long time. This was one of the best hugs we ever shared and it was also the last hug we ever shared. Unfortunately she got caught up with some family things and we didn't get the chance to meet up that night. I was very bummed out because I had planned on looking closely into her eyes during our conversation while I told her that I was and always have been very much in love with her followed by a loving kiss on the lips because I wanted to be more affectionate and kissing each other was another thing that had tapered down. I knew I'd have a chance on Sunday because I'd see her when I took the kids home but I didn't want to wait.

On Friday April 10 I got a hold of her while she was at work. I couldn't wait. I told her I loved her. I told her I wanted to come home. I told her I made a promise to her before God that we would be together and that I want to be the kind of man that honors his woman and his God by keeping that promise. I told her I didn't want to just be a man but that I wanted to be her man. I told her that I loved her and our 3 girls, that they deserved to be reminded every day that they are each amazing, and that I wanted to be who reminded them that every day. She cried. She told me she couldn't tell me how long she had been waiting to hear that. She told me I wasn't wasting my time expressing these feelings, and that I had a legitimate chance to come home.

On Saturday April 11 I took the girls to the local fire station for a tour. Candace, Chris, his 3 year old son, and a friend of Chris' went on a trip somewhere about 50 miles out of town. I'm not positive on the reason for their trip, but according to the friend with them it didn't last long and Candace and Chris argued the entire time. I've heard via the friend that was with them that part of the argument was Candace telling Chris that they were done and that she didn't want contact with him anymore. Candace and I text each other a handful of times during this day also. I told her about the girls trip to the fire station. Me coming home also came up again and I had said that if she needed a minute to think about it I understood and she told me not to worry about it, and that its all she thought about since I brought it up. We text a couple times more and it ended with something I said that never got a response. I thought maybe she was just busy though, and that I would hear from her when I hear from her. She wasn't busy though.

On Sunday April 12 I called Candace a couple times because I needed the kids health insurance info to pick up some medicine for them. Every time I tried to call the phone went straight to voicemail which immediately set off alarms because she and her phone were inseparable. Initially I thought maybe she had a late night and was sleeping and for some reason forgot to get her phone on the charger to try to reduce my worry. The later it got the less I thought that likely. I got on the local news website just to do a little check. I saw there was a two fatality car accident. I got scared thinking it was her, opened the article, and decided it wasn't her because there was no identifying information and it said there was an adult passenger and young child that survived the wreck. From what I knew they usually went places just the two of them.

The time for me to take the kids back to her house had come and gone and her phone still went straight to voicemail. Now I was really worried. I don't make a habit of knowing what time it is. I don't look often. So all I know is sometime between 8 and 9pm there was a knock on the door. I looked out the window to see who it was and saw a State trooper. My heart sank and my anxiety sky rocketed. He asked if he could come inside to talk with me for a moment. Sure enough he was at my house to do what truly is probably the worst part about his job. He was there to tell me that Candace was in a car accident and had died. She was 34 years old.

Chris was driving Candaces 2000 Honda Accord coupe, Candace was the front passenger, the friend was behind Chris, and the toddler was in his child seat behind Candace. They were on their way back to town on Saturday afternoon, Chris and Candace were fighting, and they were 42 miles out when for a reason I am not aware of the car left its lane, crossed the oncoming lane, left the road over an embankment, and into trees along the shore of a river. I've been told the estimated minimum speed that Chris was driving was between 90 and 95 mph when the crash occurred. I've been told that Chris and Candace died instantly. The friend barely survived with very serious injuries. I thank God Chris' son survived with very minor injuries and was completely fine physically. The wreckage couldn't be seen from vehicles passing by on the road and no one knew they had wrecked until the afternoon of the next day when some guys rafting the river heard Chris' son crying, saw the wreckage, and stopped to help.

This is the first time someone I was close to has died. This is the most painful thing I've ever dealt with. What I'm really hung up on is regret and guilt. If I didn't leave her she would never had met him. If I would have treated her better we would have had less problems and a more consistently good relationship. If I would have told her sooner that I wanted to come home they wouldn't have made it to that day together. If I was nicer and more loving towards her she would have been nicer and more loving towards me. I always have loved her and I always will but I wish I would have done more to show it. I could have been a better husband. I feel like I failed her horribly, and though I don't feel as strongly that her death is directly my fault as I initially did, I do still feel that my actions played a large part in helping her along the path that led to her death. I feel that with all details considered, cause I left out so many, that Candace had a tragic life. I had the opportunity to be a part of her life that would make it exponentially better and I blew it. It makes me absolutely crazy that I was ready to go back changed enough for our relationship, our family, and our life together to be better than ever ready to last forever. I think about her more than ever. I can't stand that I didn't think about her this often when we were in a relationship. I'm not exaggerating when I say she is in my thoughts almost every waking second of every day since she died. I also feel guilty that although I don't know how to make myself, I want to stop thinking about her. Just temporarily. Just to take a break from the pain. I could've kissed her more. I could've hugged her more. I could've held her hand, snuggled more often, touched her lovingly more, playfully flirted with her more, appreciated her, her loving me, and what that really means. I had so much to be thankful for but took it all for granted during my journey to get myself together and get my head sorted out. I even told Candace that I wished I would have got to where I was without leaving. The list of regrets goes on and on and the feelings of guilt from feeling I helped lead her to this is overwhelming. I just feel like I really messed up this time. Worse than ever and for the first time it can't be fixed.

If you've read this far I truly thank you for your time. I know this was super long but I wanted to share my story outside of my small circle because since my circle is so small everyone is too close to the situations that have occurred as a result of Candace and I being together to consistently support me in a way that always helps. There is so much more to my story, and there is so much more to the how's and whys of my dealing with this loss, but I feel I got out what I feel I needed to get out right now by writing this.

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Josh you are in the midst of an incredible pain and I am so sorry for your loss. It's good that that you found your way here and sharing your life helps for sure. I hope you can hold your daughters tight in your life and find comfort while giving it.

Life is not always fair and words cannot always help but our thoughts are with you.

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It's good that you shared all of this, it helps to express ourselves and not keep it bottled up, and it helps us understand by knowing some of the details to your story.

I'm very sorry you lost Candace. Feeling guilty is common when we lose someone close, there's always the whatifs and we are masters at beating ourselves up. Especially men, because men like to fix things and this is one thing they just can't fix. They often feel guilty that they weren't able to protect their wife from what happened. The truth is, life just happens...and death with it. It is unfair that it happened so young, and with children that no longer have their mommy, and you no longer having the love of your life beside you...esp. when everything was just looking so promising. There's no doubt the two of you loved each other. I'm glad you were able to get some help along the way and see that alcohol never solved anything, just added more complications. Sometimes space can let emotions die down enough that the two of you can see more clearly and remember what it is you loved about each other and work through your own stuff, making it more possible to put things back together again...it sounds like this was the situation in your case.

I can see how you feel all your dreams went up in smoke the day she died. I want you to know there is life after, as all of us have been learning and helping each other to see. It is a huge adjustment learning to live without our spouse, and you've had a while to begin working on that, but the grieving process continues on and we learn to coexist with it. Have you been able to get the kids into grief counseling? They usually gear it to their specific age but even young kids can benefit from it. Have you seen a grief counselor yourself? If not, I hope you will because they can be very beneficial at helping us through the muddle of grief. It's hard to see clearly when we're in the middle of it.

You have found a very caring group of people here, and we'll be here to help you through this if you want us to.

There will be others along to respond shortly. Stephen is right, life is not always fair, you've just realized that big time.

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Josh, my dear, I'm so sorry to learn of your tragic loss, and my heart reaches out to you. You have found your way to a warm and caring place, and I hope you can feel our collective arms around you. You have begun a long and arduous journey, but we are here to walk with you . . .

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Dear Josh,I

Am so very sorry for your loss, and for the lost dreams that you were just beginning to sort out and put into a beautiful framework for you and your family. We are here for you. You have three precious daughters who need your love and will be there for you as well. This is such a terrible time for all of you, and I can only imagine the feelings of grief, loss, and confusion that you are having as you try to sort out your life and begin to heal from losing your Candace.

Please know that we are with you and can understand your pain and the fog you are in right now. I hope you have family around you to help you and the girls with comfort and lots of emotional support. My heart breaks for you.

I am holding you and your daughters close in my heart, and wishing you peace for your heart.



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Reaching out to let you know that I have heard you and am so sorry you are in so much pain. You are at the beginning of your journey and a big part of your healing will be in sharing what is in your heart. Many of us have been where you are and one thing is for sure ~ we will be here for you.

I send healing hugs.


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Hello Josh. I recently lost my husband thus I am new to grief and last Friday I too was a trainwreck; but I'm learning that coulda, woulda, and shoulda don't do us much good. they just tear us down. I read your post and it sounds like you and Candace did the best that you could during the time you were together. I'm so sorry for your loss and will keep you in my prayers ...

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