Self-Blame for a Death Resulting in Depression

Self-blame is a common cause of depression and migraines. It is the result of your feeling responsible for something that happend because you indirectly did something. Let me give you some examples from actual therapy experience.

1. A man had bought his young son a motorbike. The son was killed in an accident. He blamed himself and went into depression.

2. A woman had sent her son to the store for some food and he was killed in an accident on the way.

3. A woman was with her boyfriend at the beach and she wanted to come back to town (Portland) while he preferred to stay at the beach longer. On the way back they had an accident and he was killed.

4. A woman's parent had died in a distant city. She blamed herself that she hadn't gone to see her as often as she should have.

5. A parent died and the woman blamed herself for not having gotten her mother a better doctor.

6. A woman had spent over $50,000 on her migraines (some 15 years ago) which were cured with a little analysis. The family was on an outing where there was a sandpit (with water in it) and one of the children had strayed away and was drowned. The husband laid a heavy guilt on her (which she accepted) for having let the child out of her sight. Result? Migraines as self punishment. Cured when the cause was brought to light.

These are typical. A lot of this happens on the battlefield at wartime. Men, in general, won't admit to their feeling about buddies who died in battle that they feel somewhat responsible for.

Same for pets. Dog got loose. Should have kept the cat in. Didn't go to the vet soon enough. And with the death of any family member, there is the opportunity to blame yourself for contributing to the early death. Maybe you accidentally killed a wild animal, or someone's pet.

Looking at this rationally, you have to admit that grieving isn't helping the dead thing or person one single bit. When you are sad, that makes you not pleasant for others to be around. Some people feel they must grieve and show it. Why? To satisfy others? What sense does that make?

A much better solution is to rid yourself of the guilt by rationalization, if it wasn't a criminal act, and get on with your life. It's over with. Done. Accept that.

The exercise that follows is meant to tell your subconscious mind, where emotions come from, to cut off the guilt feelings. If you really want that to happen, it will happen. You can't continually relive the past trauma and be a happy person. You owe it to the people you associate with to be happy, as well as to yourself. So do the little exercise that follows and see what happens. Have in mind the person or animal that died or the incident in mind that causes your depression while I give you the audio message. If it's a big release for you, you may immediately feel it release tension just below the breastbone or a part of your body will twitch.

If you are on dial-up give the message a couple of minutes to load or it will be broken up, a sure sign of a slow connection.

NOTE: The author of this page is not a state or medically-licensed professional.

Loren Parks

Loren Parks,
Psychological Research Foundation, Inc.

Return to the Home Page