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The “G” Word

Often when someone close to us dies, we feel guilty.
Often when someone close to us dies, we feel guilty.

Guilty that we’re still here. Guilty that we couldn’t prevent the death. Guilty that it had to happen.

Guilty – it’s the “G” word that is often used by a griever.

The following is a typical conversation between a grief recovery specialist and someone who is grieving.

Griever: My son committed suicide, I feel so guilty.

Grief Recovery Specialist: Did you ever do anything with intent to harm your son?

Griever: No. (This is an almost universal response.)

Grief Recovery Specialist: The dictionary definition of guilt implies intent to harm. Since you had no intent to harm, can you put the “G” word back in the dictionary? You are probably devastated enough by the death of your son, you don’t need to add to it by hurting yourself with an incorrect word that distorts your feelings.

Griever: Really? I never thought of it that way.

Grief Recovery Specialist: Are there some things that you wish had been different, better, or more?

Griever: Oh, yes.

Visit Donna Terrell's grief blog for more articles, essays and discussion on loss and the nature of grief.

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