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I'm in Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda Hell!!!

My name is Alicia. I'm new to the site and this is my 1st post. I'm a 31yr old, now single mother of a 4yr old. My best friend and love of my life passed away Aug 28th, 2015 unexpectedly from a genetic heart condition that we never knew he had. We had been together for 7yrs. I'm so happy to find this support group!! I'm very close with my family but they live pretty far away from me. And while I love my family they just don't understand my loss. Especially at such a young age. I've been looking for support groups for young widows but there are little to none. Maybe that's because as younger people the concept of people dying at our age just seems like such a far fetched concept. It certainly never occurred to me until it happened. The thing I'm struggling with now is that before Jamail passed away he and I were not on the best terms in our relationship. So the last year of our relationship had been rocky. We were still madly in love with each but we were letting the stress of life and finances cause us to fight over what I now realize were such petty things. I said things I regret. And now he's gone. We always thought we had time. We always thought that we'd have the next day to kiss and make up. But tomorrow never came. Now I'm filled with so much regret for wasting what I now know we're the last mths, days, hrs of our time together arguing over things that ultimately didn't matter. I feel so guilty. Guilt for not making sure he knew much I was still head over heels in love with him. Guilt for not knowing how sick he was. Guilt for not forcing him to go to a doctor sooner. I don't know how to move forward. I feel like I'm in shoulda, coulda, woulda hell!! Has anyone else felt this way? 

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Comment by Toniadpt on October 24, 2015 at 7:25pm

Hi Alicia, I am so sorry for your loss. It's been 3 months since my husband died suddenly in an accident. I too had a lot of thoughts of "shoulda, coulda, woulda" in the first few weeks after his passing. I think it's totally normal in the grieving process. But, I realized that putting this extra pressure on myself wasn't helping in the healing. Please try not to put so much pressure on yourself. Stay strong. You are in my thoughts.  

Comment by Diane on October 14, 2015 at 7:46pm
TorontoLucy, thank you for the encouraging words. I'm so glad to read what you wrote in saying our loved ones wait for us to leave before they pass on. I've heard this from someone else and this is The second time I am hearing it. I felt guilty this whole time that I was not there but perhaps it's time that I let my upsetment go. Thank you for responding
Comment by TorontoLucy on October 14, 2015 at 7:37pm

Hi Diane, welcome to the site and so sorry you have to join us. I think many of us feel the same thing. The night my husband died was the one I didn't spend a lot of time talking to him or saying goodnight. I had been staying with him previously, in his room, but the night he died, I slept in my own room only to wake up and find him not breathing. I read a really good book (well good in the sense that it was really accurate, albeit painful to read) that said that many people experience what you did. Sometimes our loved ones wait to die until we are away from them. Whether they are doing it consciously or not I'm not sure, but there are many stories of people sitting by their loved ones side for days and the 5 minutes they get up to leave the room is the moment the person passes away. Sometimes they stick around for us. So, and I'm not sure this is at all helpful, but even if you had stayed, he may have passed away the next moment you were away from his side. I'm so sorry for your loss and hope you find some support reading the posts.

Comment by Diane on October 14, 2015 at 7:22pm
I'm also very new to the site and never posted before. My name is Diane and I've been widowed 21 months. I am just wondering if others feel guilt as I do now for not being there when your spouse passed? I left the hospital about three hours before he passed away 11 o'clock at night and I feel tremendous guilt for not being there with him at the time
Comment by AEDforever (Ali) on October 7, 2015 at 12:46pm

Dearest Alicia,

I am very sorry for your loss. My husband died Feb. 13, 2012.  I was in that "hell" for quite awhile after he died.  Guilt, Remorse, and a whole host of other emotions.  The guilt was strong.  For me, a number of things helped.  Talking to other widows/widowers about these feelings, listening to them tell me that I really had no control over what happened, and knowing that everyone has rocky times in their relationships. That doesn't mean you loved each other less, or that the love you did have is not as real as when you were arguing.  You were in a real relationship that has ups and downs, and yes arguments and disagreements.  That just shows you were engaged and not checked out of it.  Imagine that if it were you that died.  Do you think that your husband would not feel the same way?  And don't you think that if you were able to watch him going through that you would want to relieve him of that suffering?  Of course you would.  Now having said that, what I know is that I still had to feel it for awhile in order for it to go away.  But IT DID go away after awhile.  So, if you can, treat yourself with the loving compassion that you would treat him with.  And one day, you will come to believe it, and you will not be in the "coulda, shoulda, woulda" hell anymore. 

Comment by TorontoLucy on October 6, 2015 at 8:48pm

Oh Alicia, I think this is something we are all feeling. Hindsight is 20/20 they say. Of course had you known you would have done things differently, but you didn't know there would be no tomorrow and you can't beat yourself up for just getting through life frustrations and all. I am feeling the same way, guilty, for not getting my husband to get his test results sooner, for not pushing him into a treatment plan sooner, for sitting idle, doing regular day to day things when we could have been trying to stop his cancer. The last night I kissed him goodnight and went to bed, but boy I would have told him a million other things had I known he wouldn't wake up. I would have told him how perfect he was for me, how he always made me feel special and loved and how much I wished we had more time together. The guilt and these thoughts stop me in my tracks, they are always on my mind or in the back of my mind waiting to creep in.

Comment by lizbeth4 on October 4, 2015 at 6:48pm

I felt extreme guilt after the death of my Husband.  Could I have done more?   The morning he died, did I do everything the way I should of?   2 1/2 years later, the guilt I s gone.  He had a terminal disease and he had a do not resuscitate order.  When I got to the emergency room, he was hooked up to many ivs as there were trying to stabilize him.  His organs were shutting down and he was dying.  He was in tremendous pain.  No pain medications as they would interfere with the other medications.  I asked for those ivs to be taken out and for pain medications to be given (morphine)   He passed away 15 minutes later, comfortably, with me holding his hand.  Now I know it was the right thing to do.  No one can understand how it feels to lose a spouse, partner, until they go through it.   Remember the good times and memories.  They will help you get through. 

Comment by Phyllis on October 4, 2015 at 3:01am

Unfortunately, guilt is so prevalent in widowhood.  I lost my husband three years ago after 43 years of marriage, and every day I mourn him and what we could have had if I hadn't said or done this or that.  We have enough to be unhappy about - losing the most important person in our lives - without wasting time thinking about what we did wrong.  I keep telling myself not to beat me up; we had a lot of good years; don't dwell.  Easier said than done.  But along with time comes an understanding that it took two of us to make the situation.  I think if roles were reversed and Don were still alive, he would be doing the same thing to himself.  AGH and Michele, your grief is so new.  Please don't waste your time over things that are done but instead try to remembert the happiness you had together.  Like bis4betsy said, it's not easy to get there but it will happen.

Comment by bis4betsy on October 1, 2015 at 6:48pm

Be gentle with yourself, you did the best you were able to do under that circumstances.  Move forward slowly.  Take as much time as you need.  So many kind people here to listen and support you.  I am so sorry you are here but glad you found a place to begin healing

Yes, I was filled with the same sort of emotions after my husband died.  He had been sick for a long time before he was actually diagnosed and he was grumpy all the time.  Although I still had time (only 6 weeks) to say good bye I regret not saying many things to him after he had the official diagnosis.  It just seemed like the things I wanted to say didn't really matter anymore because he was in so much pain.  Should I have said them anyway?  Would it have changed the outcome?  I've finally accepted my choices, but it was not easy to get there.  


Comment by Michele on September 30, 2015 at 8:10am
Hi Alicia, I'm so sorry for your loss. I have the same guilt that I live with everyday. I lost my fiance two months ago and we fought the morning he died. My last words to him were filled with frustration over something we had been struggling with for a while. Like you,we always thought we had tomorrow. This time we didn't. There were no proper goodbyes, as no one would have ever expected his death. He was only 28. I struggle with the could have, should have etc everyday. You aren't alone. I wrote my fiance an apology letter for the stupid fight that day and about what his death has already taught me. It seemed to help. I was so afraid he didn't know how much I love him because those weren't my last words to him. It helped and I had a dream of him a week later where all he said to me was "why would you think like that" I'm assuming it was him trying to tell me why would I think he didn't know how much I loved him. It gave me a tiny bit of comfort. I hope this helps you. Feel free to reach out.

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