The anniversary of my Son’s death is approaching in about a month. Even though it has been a few years since his passing, I still get overwhelmed by grief and sorrow every time I think of him during this time. I find it difficult to forgive myself even though I rationalize there was little I could have done to save him, but what if I could have persuaded him to check in with the hospital earlier, then maybe he might still be alive? But he refused to go. I really want to get on with my life, but I’m afraid I will never get over my loss. I’m also afraid that I may forget about him if I do. What can I do to find peace? 

Ronald Fearon

First of all, I am truely sorry for your loss and that this has happened to you. Losing someone so close must be one of the most difficult situations we could ever face in life, especially if it is your own child.

Genuine grief that we feel from losing someone we love is a natural process and needs to be felt fully until we can heal and move forward in life.

In your question you mention feeling overwhelming grief and sorrow and also how hard it is to forgive yourself, which is usually based on regret and guilt. These are two different feelings that need some further clarification. 

Genuine grief that we feel from losing someone we love is a natural process and needs to be felt fully until we can heal and move forward in life. Guilt, on the other hand, can be defined as either appropriate or inappropriate, depending on the situation. If you have done everything possible then whatever guilt you are feeling isn’t really appropriate. You don’t specify his medical condition, but is it true that you could have “saved” him? Are you willing to forgive yourself and respect his choice, otherwise the inner critic will keep using your guilt against you? 

As a hospice nurse, my wife often witnessed the enormous pain when a parent lost a child. One common belief she would come across was “I have failed as a parent because I’m supposed to protect my child from danger and harm.” She often had to help the parents forgive themselves that the child died, even though it wasn’t their fault.

As far as your conflict between wanting to move on and your fear of forgetting, it is important not to make the mistake of measuring the depth of your love by the depth of your pain. Letting go of the pain of loss is not the same as letting go of (and forgetting) your loved one. Letting go means leaving behind the sorrow and pain of grief and choosing to move forward, taking with you only those memories and experiences that help you to grow and find peace.

Would you be willing to believe that there may have been a soul contract between you and your Son, and that you both wanted to share your deep love for each other and also experience the pain of separation fully? Is it possible that it may have been his time to move on? If part of our purpose on Earth is to feel the pain of separation from our Oneness and to experience the opposite of love in order to appreciate love fully, then hasn’t your Son’s passing definitely taken you there?

And what if it’s the other way around as well, that your Son wants you to let go so he can move on with his life on the other side?

The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn here is unconditional love, which is the only power that can heal.