Author Topic: Feelings of guilt. What to do?  (Read 2038 times)


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Feelings of guilt. What to do?
« on: January 01, 2016, 12:09:41 PM »
Lost my husband when we were out swimming August this year. He was swimming with our 4 year old on his back and then he just sank. Thank God I saw my son just in time to save him but my husband had probably already hit the bottom. I took my son and threw him up on the jetty. I looked at the water and contemplated if I would throw myself in and try to dive to the bottom of the lake and find my husband. I was so scared, the water was dark and I can?t even dive properly. I knew that my chances for getting him up were small so instead I yelled for some tourists to go in to the water and in the meantime I borrowed a cell phone and rang emergency service. It was awful. The tourists in the water did what they could but they couldnt find him. We had to wait 10-15 minutes for emergency to arrive. I felt so hopeless and knew it was serious.

Now I feel this immense guilt that maybe I could have saved him if I hade jumped into the water. Maybe it was some kind of test I had to pass to prove my love for him (a really strange thought I know) and I failed because I was to scared and not at all good in diving. While I stood on the beach talking to emergency my husband where dying at the bottom of the lake. I feel so horrible. Why didnt I jump in to the water? I kind of knew that he was going to die so why didnt I had the guts to try find him?

The death certificate says drowning because he had water in his lungs but the cause of drowning was probably a blockage in "widow maker" coronary artery. Maybe he couldnt have been saved even if we had found him after 5 minutes. The coroner said he may have had a cardiac arrest and (I hope) he was probably "dead" when he was hitting the bottom.

Pleas help, how to handle these thoughts that maybe I could have saved him if I wasn?t so scared. I know other people jumped into the water but maybe my participation had made a difference?

Captains wife

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Re: Feelings of guilt. What to do?
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2016, 01:18:47 PM »
First of all I'm so sorry. I lost my husband suddenly from drowning too although it was in a boating accident. I too for months replayed in my head what could have happened differently so I understand. But please go easy on yourself- accidents happen and there is likely nothing different you could have done or even worse you could have seriously put yourself in danger. I know it's hard but please try not to feel guilty- you and your family are going through such tough time right now just dealing with the grief. I am now 3.5 years out from my sudden loss and my son is now 4 yrs old - please know that things will get better over time and please take care in this early grief period. Take help where you can, take time to grieve...your young son will bring you a lot of comfort as time goes on. Going to a grief therapist to help deal with some of these feelings also really helped me. Hugs...


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Re: Feelings of guilt. What to do?
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2016, 01:26:14 PM »
In a nutshell, people do the best they can given the circumstances and the resources at hand. You saved your children from losing a second parent because your gut told you not to jump in and become another victim. You found assistance nearby. You did everything reasonable that you could have done. You probably can believe this, but you will still question yourself. It is only natural. I asked myself how I missed signs of my husband's heart failure. The reality is that I didn't see any signs, even though I have a medical background. I have had to come to grips with that.


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Re: Feelings of guilt. What to do?
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2016, 12:49:48 PM »
I think most of us have dealt with the what if's and guilt surrounding our spouse's death. It lessens over time but in the first months, it can be overwhelming.

You will have times where your mind hits the replay button and you will loop through the events and feel as though you could have changed things but that's not the reality. You did exactly the things that you needed to do to save your child and to prevent yourself from probably drowning too.

It gets better with time. You won't always feel the way you do right now.

You are a hero. You saved your son. You reacted quickly to alert others who could dive down to help your husband. You called 911. It sounds to me that you were brave and used your head.

Remind yourself of the facts and keep telling yourself that you did all you could because that's the truth.
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Wife of Tomasz

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Re: Feelings of guilt. What to do?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2016, 06:45:17 PM »
Hello Helena,
I'm so sorry for your loss. I too have a lot of feelings of guilt relating to my hubby's passing. It was just me and him that night, it was my responsibility to take care of him. I did not realize that something was wrong, and by the time I called the ambulance it was too late. I feel that if I had called the ambulance sooner that he may still be here. I think it is a natural reaction for those of us who suddenly and unexpectedly watched our loved ones pass. The what ifs and the if only. I think you handled the situation tremendously. You got your child to safety, and called for help. I am also not the best swimmer, my lifeguard friends tell me that pulling something heavy from the bottom is no easy task. Dealing with this guilt is just part of our grieving process and may take a long time to come to terms with. I have not yet tried counseling, but its something I am thinking about. Wishing you peace.   


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Re: Feelings of guilt. What to do?
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2016, 02:51:59 AM »
Big hugs to you all for your great support and kind words. For the moment the feeling of guilt have passed. I guess it?s a phase in the grieving process that you have to go through. It?s a struggle but you have to do it.


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Re: Feelings of guilt. What to do?
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2016, 09:01:19 PM »
I think the 'what if ' phase is our way of process their death. Even though we know they are gone it's difficult (impossible ) to accept. Your quick response saved your son. Be kind to yourself.

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Re: Feelings of guilt. What to do?
« Reply #7 on: February 29, 2016, 08:28:38 AM »

My husband died of alcoholic liver failure. I too have many, many feelings of guilt, guilt about enabling, not realizing how much trouble he was in, etc. Many, many people have told me I should not feel guilty, that it wasn't my fault. However, they do not stand where I stand, they do not know what I know about what I did or didn't do. It's not something people can reassure you into accepting. One therapist said that I need to look at the reasons I feel guilty and determine whether or not I don't have a distorted view. That was actually the first truly helpful thing anyone said, even if I wasn't (and still, in many ways am not) ready to accept that my feelings of guilt are unfounded. The point is overcoming the guilt is something you really have to come to on your own; no one can make you not feel guilty. I think it requires deep thought and the passage of time. Another thing that was helpful to me was when I was discussing my feelings of guilt with my boyfriend, he said, "You know it wasn't your fault, right?" For the first time, I actually entertained the idea that maybe, maybe, it was not my fault.  I the way he framed it, that I know it's not my fault is an important distinction I think.  Saying it that way, it reinforced this notion that it's really up to me to come to this conclusion.

What happened to your husband reminded me of a blog I found shortly after being widowed. It's written by a man who's wife was hit by a car; he was able to save their son but not his wife. I've found it helpful to read the stories of people whose losses share similarities with mine. Maybe this will be helpful to you.
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