Endings bring a lot of confusing and painful feelings.  Especially when what has ended is something that someone wishes would continue.  Pain, disorientation, anger, frustration.  These are understandable and fairly easy to explain.

But, there is another feeling that sometimes surprises us.  That is the feeling of guilt.  When something we desire and value has ended, it seems important for people to attribute blame.  We need to explain it. Someone must be responsible for it.  We seem driven to find out why it happened and who is responsible for it. Someone is guility.

Sometimes that guilt is assigned to others. Others have not done what they should  and that is why we have experienced the ending. When someone dies, it is often the doctors that are blamed; or the medical system; or the person who didn't live in a way that would have prolonged their life; or some might blame God. 

But, sometimes the ending also brings a sense of guilt to those of us who suffer the agony of the ending. Sometimes we focus on ourselves and what we "could-a", "should-a", "would-a" done. The "if-onlys" chase our hearts down the corridors of our minds.  "If only I had told her to go the doctor sooner when the symptoms first appeared. If only I had been more sensitive to her needs. If only I had been attentive when she was alive at least I wouldn't feel guilty about the mistakes I made in our relationship."

It is important for those who suffer loss or those who accompany others through loss to realize that guilt is a normal and almost automatic part of the grieving process.  When something ends and there is no opportunity to retrieve that which is lost, we rehearse the past, sifting through the nuggets of memory to see if we can't create a narrative where we might discover a direct cause and effect.  

Unfortunately, there will be many loose ends and a great deal of confusion in most cases of loss.  So don't be surprised when guilt is a significant part of the way we attend to the losses of our lives. And remember that it can become a prison which locks us in the past.