When we lose someone we love, we often see ourselves as failures for our inability to keep our loved ones alive. My son Eric died over six years ago. I spent many days wondering what I could have done differently. The endless questions that continue to haunt us. Why didn’t I see the signs? Why didn’t I get there sooner? Would he be alive if I didn’t work? What if I changed doctors? Constant thoughts spinning around in my head like little tops. At times, these thoughts have taken control. They seem infinite and each time I reflect upon them, I discover entirely new ways to punish myself for my failures. However, when I consider all the ways in which I showed my love, I believe my successes far outweigh my failures. Consider this: we are wired to survive, and when we lose someone to suicide, we must to blame someone, who better than ourselves?
The truth is hard to accept. We do everything we can possibly do to keep our loved one healthy and alive. Their leaving us was a painful decision for them, but it was their decision. Therein lies the tragedy. The truth is that no one is to blame. Only the circumstances – the perfect storm – the situations that created the reasons for him or her to leave. I realize now that I had no power or control in those last few minutes before Eric passed.
There is another truth as well. We are not perfect human beings! As hard as we try to be perfect, we make mistakes. Tragically, our loved ones were in undeniable pain that we do not understand. Their fear of living was more powerful than their fear of dying. As hard as we try, we have no power or control over our loved ones' decisions. All we could do was love them, with imperfectly perfect love. So, what exactly is self-forgiveness? Joe Koelzer, Co-founder of The Clearing, an Addiction Rehab in Friday Harbor, Washington says this . . .
"Self-forgiveness is the process by which we release ourselves for the judgments that we hold against ourselves, because when we accept that we are the ones holding the judgment, we also see that we are the ones who can release it, and we are the ones who can set ourselves free.”
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