We do not always have the opportunity to be with our loved ones when they die. Traumatic death does not give us that time. What I’ve found is that many times, even when we are given that time and we sit with our loved ones as those final moments draw close, we still hold back. We think we have time. “I tell him later” but later doesn’t come.
When Joe was dying, I had the opportunity to repeatedly tell him that I loved him, that I couldn’t believe I would be without him, it was unimaginable. It wasn’t until years later when I did process my grief, that I found so many more statements that I hadn’t made. Questions I had that I never asked, things that had pissed me off that we never spoke about and apologies for when I may not have been my best self.
After Joe’s death, I have never said good-bye to a loved one without saying I love you. Funny, how that means more after loss. The realization that none of us know when we, or another loved one will be gone.
In working with those who are grieving the death of a loved one, I hear over and over again, those statements that were never made. Statements that can leave us feeling like we’re hanging in mid-air and no one to hear them. Those statements can however be expressed and there is a feeling of relief that follows. I still, now and again, think of things that I had wanted to tell or ask Joe. Remember, grief doesn’t end it changes. There is no time limit on how long we grieve but, I can say that taking the opportunity to express, in writing, any apologies, forgivenesses, and important emotional statements can lift that feeling of “if only I had told him”.