15 Feb 2018
One thing that is always present in parents of children lost to suicide is regret. Even though my daughter was an adult when she died, my husband feels the most guilty about leaving her in Queen Ann after we helped her move to her new apartment. I mean, she had a place to live and a job and Seattle was her dream place to live, and she seemed happy to be moving even closer to the city center. We couldn't have just abducted her, but we could have asked her if she'd like to go with us. But who would think to ask that of an adult? Still, he feels sad that he "had her and her things in the truck, and could have just driven straight home to Sequim" with her. This regret is not based on a realistic option, but it is a very real regret.
Sadly some people feel free to criticize our parenting decisions after a child is lost. Some may even criticize our child. Some like to remind us of times when our kids weren't happy or when we weren't happy with our kids. Some asshats will actually tell us that our kids were sinners and are in hell. I know this sounds bizarre to most people, but believe me when I say it's not uncommon. I don't know why this happens, but maybe it's because those people are having their own regrets and can't cope, so they throw them at us. Anyway, this behavior tears families apart, and is cited a main cause of complicated grief in parents, siblings, and grandparents. I personally feel that this is the most likely cause of reactive suicide death.
Anyway, I still have to make a conscious effort not to think about things I can't change. Regret sometimes still wakes me up past midnight, and tries to kill me with "if-I-had-just.... done-said-acted...." and other ugly accusations. If I allow myself to wallow in regrets about what I coulda-woulda-shoulda done differently, I begin to hate myself with a viscous anger that makes me physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually ill. I just can't go there. It's dangerous - and sneaky.
My only wisdom on regret is JUST DON'T. Regret can lead to guilt and, after someone has died, grief does no good. None at all. If, after reading this, you must "do" regret, please do it with a grief counselor.
Journaling about Regret
What's Your Grief - Guilt vs. Regret