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Guilt feelings after the death of a spouse


#1 User is offline   pat1953

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I am currently living with a man who lost his wife 5 years ago. They were married for 32 years and had a good marriage. Her death was sudden and preventable. She was misdiagnosed at the hospital and died from an aneursym. I was married for 21 years when my ex had an affair with my best friend. The divorce was very difficult for me...I still loved him, I thought. But after going thru the pain of divorce and letting go, I am a much happier person.

My boyfriend and I have been in our relationship for almost 8 months. When we first met, he talked alot about his deceased wife and I listened and cried with him. He has said many times that it should have been him that died because she was such a good person. He has guilty feelings about that and also because he feels that he was not good enough to her. He says also that he feels guilty about loving someone else. At first I felt some guilt about loving him....it was a really weird feeling, almost like we were cheating! But, I have overcome those feelings.

Most times he is funny, fun, loving, caring, thoughtful and considerate. But there are times when he has what he calls anxiety attacks. He described these attacks as feeling overwhelmingly guilty for still being alive and angry that his wife died. He says they were soul mates and his friends have confirmed this.

I love him dearly, but I'm finding it difficult to cope with his anxiety attacks because his mood changes and he seems to be angry at not only himself but me too.

Is is possible for me to help relieve his guilty feelings? How do I cope with his anxiety attacks?

Many thanks for your expert advice.....

#2 User is offline   Alyssa Johnson

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Losing a spouse through death or divorce is a tremendous loss, but they are of a different nature. Pat, it sounds like you have done a really good job in dealing with your grief and have become stronger as a result of it. Your partner is still wrestling with this, however.

You asked specifically about helping relieve his guilty feelings. It sounds like you have done all you can do at this point. You've let him freely discuss his previous marriage and the loss he experienced. He knows it's safe to discuss these matters with you. At this point, it sounds as if he needs to be doing some grief work. He seems to be stuck, based on the way you described him. I don't know if he participated in any bereavement groups or sought any kind of grief counseling. Either way, he needs to revisit this issue.

It is not unusual for you to be feeling frustrated and you probably will continue to do so, until he thoroughly deals with this. It's a journey HE must make though. You can support him, and walk with him, but HE has to be the one to take it. If he refuses, I'm sorry to say that you will more than likely be dealing with this "ghost" in your relationship forever.

As far as the anxiety attacks, they seem to be directly related to this grief. My guess is that if he deals with the grief, they should diminish.

I hope that helps! Best wishes!

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