“The Grief Recovery Handbook” identifies the ability to make honest apologies as an important part of working through grief. These apologies, while not actually delivered, are honestly and sincerely made in the mind and heart. Some may be written out to help finding words to express the pain. Usually the apology to the loved one concerns harmful words or actions that we did or even positive words or actions that we did not give to the lost loved one. The purpose of the apology is not to make the griever feel worse but to find a sense of completion in the understanding of the loss of the relationship. Apologies to ourselves and others can be helpful in other kinds of losses as well such as loss of health, finance, job, and opportunity,
Making an apology can feel like a gut-wrenching prospect, especially for those who have a strong need to be “right.” It can be especially difficult for those who have fallen into a pattern of victimhood and have come to the memorized default assumption than whenever things go wrong, it is always done to wound the victim. It is not uncommon for a grief reaction to include intense anger toward the person who has died or left.
Whatever the complicated circumstances involved in a loss, for the work to go forward, acknowledging our part in causing any “harm to” or “neglect of” brings us to a more solid and realistic place. Our ability to do this work may enable us to go forward in real time to more effectively make apologies while and when we can.