Sunday Post 63: The Feeling Of Guilt

Posted by Danny

I didn’t really understand guilt associated with death.  I’ve had a whole lot of feelings over the past few years but not guilt. 

How does that one pop out of nowhere two years after Lisa’s death?

I don’t have feelings of regret related to how I handled her illness or death.  I think I did pretty well given the circumstances.  I had hope.  I stood by her, and she was strong for me.

But I regret in a different kind of way.  I think my feelings are centered around my ability to move forward.  I’m laughing again.  I’m spending incredible time with my girls, and I have the benefit of watching them grow.  I lay on the bed with each one each night.  We talk about their days.  We talk about the future.  We have our inside jokes and a good dose of daily zaniness.  We pray.

And Lisa doesn’t get to do any of that.  I am the beneficiary of a stronger relationship with my children, because we are each others’ lifeline.  Our bonds grow deeper each day. 

In my head I reverse our roles and think of myself – watching Lisa on this earth with our kids.  How sad I would be – separated from her; unable to hug my kids; not sharing in the day-to-day joys they bring.  It tears me up.

I know she is with us, I feel her strength and presence.  But she can’t tickle or hug.  She can’t respond to their questions.  She can’t share a memory from our past. 

Although at times it feels like she is right here, I refuse to believe she can see us.  That would hurt her too much. 

I think in earthly images with a very limited view of the breadth of the universe.  Perhaps she can see and feel more than I can even imagine.  At times, what I imagine is sorrow and separation – not the joy and peace that I should. 

She once said to me, “You have the hard part.  You have to put the pieces back together when I’m gone.”  It has been so hard; and yet, I live.  I wish we could share this life – six months here, six months there.  What I’d give for her to have one night at bedtime with the kids.  No.  I get it all. 

Wrapped in my slowly growing contentment with life is a heightened sense of guilt.  Guilt and sadness for her, for what she is missing.

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  1. Hey guys,

    Just wanted to leave a comment here to say that your blog is fantastic. After losing my father to a short battle with cancer I decided to do much the same as you have by starting up a blog, only you have done it much better! 🙂 I’ve read some of the blog posts and they are terrific, capturing the memory of your wife, mum and friend in the best way possible. I truly do hope that this helps with the grieving process and you are able to smile regularly at the great memories that you have. Cheers,


  2. Helen LaVere

     /  March 18, 2012

    I am praying that you will one day feel her pride and joy in the power of your love for her and for your family. I have no doubt that Lisa is full of joy when you and your young ladies are. She will always remain present in the love and strength you share, in those moments when you are overwhelmed with sadness and a sense of loss and separation. I still feel my father, mostly in “huge” experiences, sometimes still in the small things. You are doing EXACTLY what she needed you to do when she knew she couldn’t.

  3. Pam Daniels

     /  March 18, 2012

    I lost my husband 11 months ago. I can relate to some of the things you are going through and, yet, others I cannot. Your blog brings comfort to me and to many others I am sure. I pray for grace and strength every day as we approach the one year mark in April. I so get the feelings of guilt. You are doing an amazing job with your girls and that shows through your blog. I just have to keep telling myself…one day at a time. It is so difficult, but that is what keeps me going for my children and myself. Praying for you this week.

  4. But then again…Lisa is waiting for you and what you are missing! In the end all will be put right!

  5. Linda Smith

     /  March 18, 2012

    I love you Bruce. Linda Smith

  6. Jean

     /  March 18, 2012

    Our family is trying to absorb the sudden and unexpected loss of our nephew just 2 months ago. His young widow is left to bring up 3 little boys, ages 11, 7, and 5, alone. I will be sending her a link to this blog….there is much help here!
    God bless!

  7. Aunt Susan

     /  March 18, 2012

    Okay, lets first remember that guilt is a part of grief. Grief does not follow our time line, but it’s own. I still tear up, 12 years later, for unexpected reasons.
    God has a meaning for all of us, and Lisa performed hers, and part of that was to put you in the place with you are now. with your life and with the girls. and with some others…….
    It’s hard, but as you have mentionded before, but God gives us lots of challenges and none that we can’t handle, some are tougher than others, but we can be tough too. You have grown so much as a person, you just don’t see it.

  8. Katherine Snow Smith

     /  March 18, 2012

    this probably isn’t comforting news, but 15 years later I still have bouts of guilt that I have been able to do so many things my sister hasn’t. I have been able to raise a family and she hasn’t. Directly related to things we shared and now I have by myself, I have had so many special times with my parents, sharing my kids with them and she hasn’t.
    My parents took me on a week’s cruise on the Queen Mary five years ago. Just me while my husband tended to our three kids. It was so wonderful, not just the setting, but all that time alone with them. But one night after dinner, I walked the deck of the ship alone and found a deserted chair where I sat and balled and balled that Melinda wasn’t with us. I talked to her up in heaven about how much better it would be if she was on the ship with us. I felt so guilty.
    Now five years later as I am helping my father a lot as his health declines, my mom and dad rave about me daily. They tell me what a wonderful daughter I am. Again, I feel guilty. If Melinda were here she would be doing so much more than me. She would be taking even better care of them. I am only the heroine because she isn’t here. I’ve earned it by default.
    It simply isn’t right. But somehow, maybe as a coward or maybe as a Christian, I tell myself that God had made it all right for her. That she is not in heaven pining away to be here. Though it seems she would be and that Lisa would be, that every person who isn’t with their loved ones on Earth would be. I chalk it up to one of the many things we can’t make sense of or explain.
    And in simpler terms. Don’t feel guilty that you are sharing laughter and bedtimes with your girls. That is what Lisa wants for you and for them. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  March 19, 2012

      It’s good to know I’m not alone. Logically, I know she would want me to have laughter and share each moment with the girls. But boy can my mind run away with ways to make myself miserable and keep me from fully embracing life.


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