Regrets and working through it...

Discussion in 'Coping After a Sudden Loss' started by TPatz, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. TPatz

    TPatz New Member

    My wife and I were married for 22 years. For over half of that time, she struggled with addiction. In the end, I had to act to help protect our girls. I had to stop enabling.

    It's funny, you do what so many recommend and then, in the blink of an eye, they are gone. We were apart for over a year and divorced for over two years after that. However, she continued to rely upon me for everything. She continued to struggle. She had no vehicle and was alone in an apartment. I tried to encourage our daughters to visit, but they struggled to do so. She was so alone.

    Her continued use created a significant level of anger. We argued often. Then, one afternoon our youngest daughter and I went to check on her. I found her on her couch, slumped over and deceased. She just turned 46.

    It's been incredibly difficult. I keep running through all the things regarding how I could have acted better...nicer...cordial at least. I lose sight of the things she was doing that also fueled the anger. It's like all I can see is a picture of what if.

    Anyone have any advice on working through regret?
  2. Honor the Past

    Honor the Past New Member

    Hi TPatz,
    I’m sorry to hear about your loss. You’re amazing to have supported your wife and family through the challenges of your wife’s addiction. Just by reading the post, I know you thought carefully about your choices and you know that those ended up being the right ones. You did what you had to do for your family.

    You did so much, so once that void exists (after your wife’s passing), your mind naturally focuses on what’s missing out of it’s routine. Because you’re no longer able to provide support for her, you start naturally questioning “did I do enough” or “could I have done more of this or that”. Because your mind focuses on this void, you embrace regret by default (we all do). It’s our way of placing meaning to those negative feelings.

    However, you mentioned that you were married for 22 years and more than half of that time your wife struggled with addiction. As soon as I read that, I thought to myself, “but they must have had some good years before the addiction started?”. I assume you did. And if this is true, the only way to get over regret, is to focus on gratitude for the good times you shared.

    Gratitude is the antidote for regret, but it requires some active work. You have to tell your mind where to focus and train it to stay on the positive things. I recommend allocating 15 minutes of each day to focus on a gratitude exercise. Each day think about a positive memory you have of your wife and the gratitude you feel. If you can journal and write that feeling and memory down, it will be more effective. You should do this preferably in the morning, but any time during the day is fine; the important part is consistency. Try doing it for 7 days straight and see how you feel.

    Also, if those feelings of regret creep in, try to leverage that desire of wanting to do more, or being a little nicer, etc., and shift that energy and act on it with your daughters or even a random person. Giving back through acts of kindness will help eliminate any feeling of regret.
    LindaH, Catherine D. and griefic like this.
  3. TPatz

    TPatz New Member

    Thank you for your reply. Well timed words that hit close to home and make a LOT of sense :)
    Catherine D. and griefic like this.