Have you ever said to yourself “I regret (fill in the blank)?” Who hasn’t, right? We all make mistakes so it seems only natural to look back and wish that we could have done things differently. In a way, having regrets shows that we care enough to want to make things right however, when the past begins to impact the present and the future, that’s when we can get into trouble!
Losing a loved one is perhaps the greatest catalyst for regrets. All of the words we wish we had or hadn’t said; all of the things we wish we had or hadn’t done can often lead to feelings of guilt, shame and regret. I am in that place right now.
Last week, my sister Megan passed away unexpectedly. Although I have lost many relatives over the years, losing my little sister feels very different to me. I’m not sure how to explain it but it is a type of grief I have never experienced before. It’s as if I’ve lost a connection to my past.
Megan had many struggles in her life and her heartache was palpable on so many levels. She led a very isolated life and, to a certain extent, it was a life of her choosing but that did not make it any less difficult.
As a family, we experienced many highs and lows as we tried to support her over the years and my saving grace right now is knowing that underneath all of our pain, there was nothing but love for each other.
The last time I saw Megan was a year and a half ago. I spent four days with her in her tiny apartment in downtown Chicago. We had the best time together and, although I have always been quick to judge her lifestyle, spending this time with her filled me with such empathy. Putting my judgments aside, all I could see was the little girl from my childhood. So sweet and so innocent. I cried when we said goodbye not knowing this would be the last time I would see her.
These past few months of dealing with my own self-isolating due to Covid19 have given me a taste of what Megan’s life must have been like. Knowing that she was all alone in her apartment when she passed away is almost more than I can bear. It is a thought that I fear will haunt me forever.
I would be lying if I said I did not have feelings of guilt, shame and yes, even some regret but I know this is part of the grieving process and I want to honor that. I also know that acceptance leads to understanding, understanding leads to compassion and compassion leads to forgiveness. When I am able to forgive myself, I am able to let go of the judgments, the guilt and even the regrets and allow love to fill those spaces.
Because of the pandemic, I am unable to be with my family in Chicago at this time. I know there are many people dealing with this same situation and all I can do is have patience. I am grateful that my older sister Debbie lives here in Tucson and we can be together. Although we have been social distancing, when we saw each other last weekend, we hugged for the first time in months. In that moment there was no Covid19. In that moment, there was no social distancing. In that moment, we were two sisters coming together to grieve the loss of our sister Megan. Never again will I underestimate the power of a hug because in that moment, a hug can transform us even in our darkest hour.
I loved Megan in the best way that I could so I know there is no room for regret. She is in a much better place now because there is no self isolating in heaven. Megan is no longer alone and she is finally at peace.
I want to thank you for allowing me to share this very personal part of my life. Your love and support will be my strength as I move forward and navigate life without my little sister.
In closing, I want to leave you with one final thought:
When you love yourself, others and every situation no matter what the outward appearances may be, you will come to know the true meaning of unconditional love.