“You can’t place blame in hindsight like that, when you didn’t know, you couldn’t know and we may never know why it happened…” ~ Cy Zentzis, Childhood Cancer Angel, 2015
Any time we experience something negative or challenging we all have a tenancy to want to blame someone for it. If they hadn’t done it then I would not be experiencing sadness, frustration, anger or confusion. Even if it is to blame ourselves….fault must be placed somewhere. It keeps things in order, you in control and justice prevails, right?! Wrong. Sometime we must accept that there are times that there is no one to blame, no one did anything wrong or is out to get us. Sometimes we have to accept that shit just happened and then figure out what to do with the pile. Easier said than done with spilled milk but when you are talking about the dealing with these challenges in the context of a loss of a loved one, we enter into a whole knew realm of finger pointing.
Whether your loved one passed suddenly or slowly, as in the case of a critical illness, there are always going to be things that you think should of been done differently. There is always going to be that wonder if done differently would the outcome have been different.
If he wasn’t late for work he wouldn’t of gotten into a car accident. If I hadn’t let my child eat candy he wouldn’t of gotten cancer. Believe me, it goes the whole gambit of “ifs” and “would-of-should-ofs” when it comes to losing a loved one. Some practical and reasonable. Some not so much.
While sometimes there is a clear cut person or group to blame, other times there is not. How do you maneuver these waters without sinking into despair? And when there is someone/something to blame how do your reconcile those feeling without want to incite revenge or vengeance for your loved one?
The first thing to remember is that your feelings are natural. While uncomfortable and unwanted, they are indeed a natural reaction. Therefore, you must put is a concerted effort towards processing these feelings and reacting in a productive and positive way. That won’t come natural but over time will become easier.
If you have experienced a critical illness, like I did with my son, it is easy to question your decisions during treatment and try to somehow own part of the responsibility. I myself battle with the decision not to put Tucker through a bone marrow transplant early in his treatment. Even though I was equipped with the knowledge that no children had survived his type of Leukemia and they all had a bone marrow transplant. Clearly a transplant was not going to up my sons odds of survival yet it would of upped his odds of having Graft Verses Host Disease, which is very complicated and painful. Logically, I made the right choice. Unselfishly, I made the right choice not to risk putting him through GVHD without any improvement in his odds of survival. So why do I struggle with this? Because, it is natural to want to place blame. However this type of blame is unjustified and something you should not do to yourself. Remind yourself that you made the best choices you could for your loved one. Beating yourself up and picking apart everything you did or did not do will not ease your grief and pain. It will likely make it worse.
If you feel there is a clear cut person or group to blame your grief can be intensified by anger. This type of blame is destructive and something you should address. Focusing on placing blame and the anger that accompanies that will slowly eat away at you. You must find a way to come to peace with it. And by peace, I do not mean be ok with the loss. By peace, I do not mean avoiding the legal process, if necessary. By peace, I mean not letting your anger towards the perpetrator intensify by fixating on it. Instead focus on the concepts of forgiveness. If you are faithful, seek comfort in yours. Connect with others who have experience the same type of loss. If necessary, seek the council of a grief therapist. It is absolutely vital for your health that you discover a way to reconcile your feelings towards the person or group to blame.
The blame game will keep you feeling victimized by your grief. While grief will always remain the intensity of it does not need to cripple you to validate it. Remaining a victim of your grief will ultimately have negative effects on your emotional and physical health. Letting go of blame is a crucial step in healing.