Letting go of guilt when a loved one passes

Published 1:01 pm Monday, December 28, 2015

by Dr. Carletta N. Perry

Q. My mom called me before she passed away, but I was busy with work and didn’t answer. How do I let go of the guilt I feel?

A. First of all, I am so sorry for your loss. Grief and loss can feel like an eternal pain, but the loss of a parent can leave a void that only God can fill. Spiritually, we know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. With that said, I have to believe that your mother is at peace.

We are left with the pain and the emotions such as guilt. We wonder so many things, such as if we should have visited more, called more, or even answered the phone more. The truth is that many people, after losing a loved one, ask the question: Did I do enough? Perhaps you could have done more, but I want you to focus on the love you showed to your mom, the quality of your relationship with one another, and how well you cared for her needs.

My mother, who has worked in hospice care for years, taught me to do all that I can for those I love, leaving nothing unsaid and nothing undone so when the end comes, you can say: I did everything I could do.

At an early age and after losing so many that I love in my lifetime, I have found this advice still holds true. This advice has brought me peace and will lead you to peace as well.

You may be thinking, ‘Well this is good if I had more time to do more.’ No, I hear you, but I want you to forgive yourself and say aloud: “Mom, I did all I could. It could never be enough, but I do love you. My love for you is not in the past but I will love you every day.”

In closing, I do not think your mom would want you to focus on that one missed call for eternity, but rather on remembering her … her laugh, her voice, her advice, even the disagreements, but mostly a mother’s love.

DR. CARLETTA N. PERRY offers therapeutic life, relationship and career coaching. Catch her television show, “It’s Life Changing with Dr. Carletta Perry,” on Mondays at 5:30 a.m. on WSKY/SKY-4 and on YouTube. Email her atcontact@drcarlettaperry.com.