The “What-ifs” Can Eat At You After The Death Of A Loved One


The “what-ifs”, these are some of the hardest things to work through during the grief journey. It brings out regret, guilt and anger. Recently I had an appointment with a cardiologist to have a stress test performed. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s basically having pictures of your heart taken, then walking on a treadmill until your heart rate reaches a certain number and then they quickly take pictures of your heart again. It lets them see if there is any signs of heart disease, irregular heart rhythm, clogged arteries etc.

As I sat there on the table having pictures of my heart taken I felt emotional, full of regret and frustration. After I heard that my heart is healthy, no issues were spotted, I wasn’t sure what I felt. Relieved? Happy? I, of course, was relieved there were no issues but mostly I was upset thinking “If only my husband had gotten this test done. Would he still be here today?” It lead me down the “what-if” road and that’s a horrible trip to take. 

I came home and wept. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs. I wanted to beg for another chance, to be able to go back in time and for him to get the test done and for them to catch his issues before I lost him! But I can’t. I felt anger, frustration, guilt and regret. 

Logically I know it’s not my fault, I really do. BUT grief has a way of making you feel things that aren’t necessarily logical but they are very real none the less. I’ll think “why didn’t I ________” *fill in the blank*, or “If only I had ________”. It’s maddening because I couldn’t have known what was about to happen but those thoughts come in your mind anyway. Sometimes I’ll go over and over the days leading up to my husband’s passing and think about any signs I missed, any little thing that could have been a warning. He didn’t sleep well or he was extra tired (made sense because he didn’t sleep well)…there were little things that any person at any time could complain about but there was nothing that made me think that my 30 year old husband was about to die. 

The “what-ifs” are hard. Your friends and family try to comfort you. They usually try to say positive things like “You couldn’t have known”, or “There was nothing you could have done”, and while I appreciate these comments and know why they say them, it doesn’t take the feelings away. There are just some things you have to feel, feelings that you have to allow yourself to work through. 

Some days I will go over and over the “what-ifs” in my mind. I will feel frustration, regret, guilt and wonder why we couldn’t have seen a sign that made us know something was very wrong. That’s just my journey. I cried, wanted to punch a wall and scream as loud as I could because I was allowed the chance to have a stress test and know my heart is healthy while my husband never had that chance. 

“What-if…” It continues to ring in my head

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