Grief: Bargaining and Guilt, A Suicide Loss Survivor’s Perspective

  • November 15, 2018
Grief: Bargaining and Guilt, A Suicide Loss Survivor’s Perspective


How did we miss this?

What happened?

How long had he been thinking about dying?

Why didn’t he tell us?

Wait … did he?

In addition to wracking my brain on the above, I spent a significant amount of time wondering if being a ‘good’ daughter would’ve had an impact on my father staying alive.

Although I was old enough to know the finality of death, I still managed to engage in futile negotiations with God, spending lots of time praying that my father be returned to this plane of existence just to be with him again.

‘God, if you make this some sort of really, really bad dream and I wake up and my dad is here, I won’t even be mad that this nightmare lasted so long.  Just give me one more try, please. I promise to be the best daughter ever.’

Eventually, instead of praying to have my father back, I began to pray to God for forgiveness about not having been a better kid to him when I had the chance.

An infinite amount of ‘if onlys’ ran through my mind.  I had so many thoughts beginning with ‘I wish’ …

In Kubler-Ross’ theory on the stages of grief, bargaining is the third.  Known to be a line of defense to protect oneself from the painful reality that our loved one is truly deceased.  It is a normal reaction to the feeling of helplessness; the vulnerability ensues.  Bargaining is an effort of regaining control in a situation that cannot be changed.

I wished to have my life to return to what it was. I wished to have my father back.  I wished to go back in time to do things differently.  Thinking that if I could, I would have the power to change the course of events.

I ended up blaming myself for my father’s death – it tormented me.  From bargaining with God to taking ownership of my father’s death, my sadness deepened.

“It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day …” – Judith Viorst

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