Rev. David Womersley
FACING UP TO BEREAVEMEN
No. 7 FEELINGS OF GUILT
A friend of the family, a retired doctor, said to me: “Are you going to mention guilt? This is something bereaved people olden have to contend with.
l thought about that. l realised l had sometimes said to myself: “lf only…” not realising it was actually guilt.
I did frequently think: “If only l had pressed her doctor more!” It was obvious that my wife was not getting any better but the doctor dismissed it by saying her symptoms pointed to the illness she was being treated for and increasing the medication would do the trick. She told us to come back and see her in six week but in less than four weeks, she was gone! By the time l did insist, it was already too late – nothing could be done.
Bronwen sometimes complained that l spent all my time in my study and rarely went to sit with her in the sitting room unless it was the news! l did not think much of it at the time as she was always busy: studying God’s word, reading, sewing, painting, writing. But now l often think: “If only l had left my work for at least an hour and spent the time with her. She loved a discussion. l realise that she gave the appearance of being self sufficient but underneath, she could be sensitive and vulnerable.
l know Bronwen did not like it when I would leave her every second year for three months, and once for four months, to go to Congo and Zambia. Could I have planned that differently? If only . . . .
She liked an excuse to dress up and could look very smart. lf only l had told her how great she looked! As a Yorkshireman l am not very demonstrative – but that is no excuse. l have a friend who tells his wife every day how wonderful the meal was. l have always felt that was overdoing it, the impact was lost. Under-doing it is worse! l rarely told her how delicious I had found the food. She didn’t like cooking but spent hours when we had visitors, which was frequent, doing a really splendid meal. lf only . . . .
She sometimes grumbled that l didn’t appreciate the Christmas or birthday presents she gave me. “I haven’t seen you in that cardigan recently. . . .! ”l am wearing them now and they bring back memories and my eyes water, especially if it is something she knitted.
Looking back, I realise l took so much for granted. l could have been a lot more considerate. If only . . . . . but, of course, it is too late for that. l can’t ask her to forgive me but l do try and show my son appreciation for all the many things he does for me. Any who are reading this and are not yet bereaved, you know what to do about it!
We can always ask the Lord to forgive. At such moments He does come near. As James says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”.