In my career as a grief counselor, I have never had a client who did not experience some form of regret following the loss of someone they loved.
Something left unsaid, a decision made that they wish they could change, or a situation unresolved. Regret can come as equally with action as it does with inaction. We can regret doing something as much as we can regret having done nothing at all. After a loss these regrets can haunt us endlessly.
Some choose to hang on to regret becausemoving forward can feel like betrayal. Your regrets serve as testaments to the love you have felt. Holding on to regret can feel like it helps you maintain connection. Leaving behind the regret can feel like leaving your person behind.
A few suggestions for coping with your regret include:
Tell someone you trust what you are feeling.
You may need to be reminded that you did the best you could. After the fact, we lose the objectivity to remember exactly how things were or we forget all the things we did right. If the person you trust says, “No, you did all you could,” trust them.
Consider writing a letter to your person.
Expressing how you feel about the unfinished or unresolved issues between you can facilitate healing.
Be open to forgiving yourself.
Look for a lesson that can be learned.
Regret can inspire deeper compassion and empathy for others in pain; or just to say “I love you” more often.