We don’t need to add guilt on top of grief. It’s not easy, but it is simple to release the guilt.
First, we all die. Every single one of us. The difference is when and how. Death isn’t a tragedy. It’s something we know will happen when we come in. Second, I believe that we all go at the time we are supposed to go. There is nothing we can do to stop someone from going at their appointed time. The week before Shayna passed she was on a trip to Florida and I was here. I wasn’t there to protect her. When she touched down back in Cincinnati on the Saturday before she passed, I was relieved to have her back in the house, where I could take care of her. She died in her sleep down the hall from me just a few feet away. I learned a lesson about control that day. Nothing is in our control, as much as we like to have the illusion.
Third, we needn’t feel guilty that our loved ones are in bliss. That’s silly. They are having the time of their lives, a time that we can’t even imagine. We are stuck here in this dense, cold world. If anyone should feel guilty, it’s them for having a vacation while we’re still stuck here working. The week that Shayna was away, she was at a resort with her volleyball team, living it up. Going to dinner every night, having ice cream, riding around the resort in golf carts. She didn’t call her sister or me one time. And when Ty asked her if she felt guilty she said “No. I’m having a good time. Why should I feel guilty?” She knew she would be seeing us soon. She wasn’t going to let guilt ruin her good time. I’m sure she’s having a great time now, not worried about us because she knows we will be there soon enough.
I don’t feel guilty at all. Shayna had a heart condition that we were told was mild and really just a minor nuisance. She had been released to be monitored every couple of years, but she had no restrictions. We had taken her to one of the best pediatric cardiologists in the country. We aggressively treated her with two procedures and had her wear a monitor for a month. We did everything the doctors recommended and more. There have been times when I’ve wondered if we should have taken her back in sooner. She was supposed to have an appointment in August, just two months after she passed. Should I have gotten a second opinion? When she had a fluttering in her chest a few weeks before should I have taken her back? I could beat myself up. I could feel guilty. I won’t do that. I know the answers to all of these questions. I did all I knew to do at the time. I did all that is humanly possible. It was her time. It will be my time one day. The only difference is timing.