My ex-spouse passed away about a week ago. We have 2 adult children. Been apart about 20 years, both remarried. At the funeral I felt totally gutted. I started thinking I made very bad decisions all those years ago, and ruined my family. My oldest son left about 15 years ago. We know he is alive but not where he is, and we have had no contact with him. I feel it is all my fault. I destroyed the family because I was unhappy.
Death and bereavement can jolt us into reassessing our lives. While you may have made poor choices in the past, there is no point in being self-critical now. Are there any lessons that you have learned from past mistakes? If yes, use these to change how you think now. If you feel that you destroyed your family back then, ask yourself what can you do now to rectify things? What are your current values? Stay conscious and mindful of your values – these are the rules according to which you need to live by. Responsibilities are tied to your values so ask yourself, what do you need to do now to help your family? If this means tracking down your son and making amends, then can you do this?
Don’t look back on your life with regret. If you were unhappy in the past, then you acted the way you did for reasons which made sense then. Stay self-compassionate; part of self-compassion is acknowledging our mistakes and using them to change ourselves. And be forgiving – this means letting go of self-blame and giving yourself permission to move forward positively. You can change a bad situation into a good one by thinking differently about it. You can live the rest of your life, aligned with personal values that give meaning and purpose to your life. You can live in a deliberate way, choosing thoughts and actions which result in peace.