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Will I ever get over my feelings of guilt?


Question: My mother recently died of cancer. I moved in to take care of her for a year. It was very stressful as she also had mini strokes and needed attention every minute. I was usually very caring but there were many times I lost my temper. I loved my mother very much but besides missing her, I am feeling guilty for my temper tantrums. It has only been a week. Will I get over this?

Dr. Amy: Your letter brings to mind the quote by comic strip author Cathy, who says:  "Food, love, career, and mothers—the four major guilt group."  It’s so true—many of us carry a burden of guilt when it comes to our relationships with our mothers. We may feel regret over certain actions. I think the key is to think about the whole of your relationship.

It sounds like you were a wonderful and caring daughter over the years. Try to stay focused on the hundreds—or thousands— of things you did well and with love. Think of the long sweep of years and your relationship overall. Avoid focusing on a few specific instances where you weren't at your best. We all stumble from time to time. It’s only human.

I am sure your mother never doubted that you loved her. I am sure she was grateful to have such a loving daughter who would move in and take care of her in her time of need. You are bound to feel things more strongly now because you are mourning the loss of your mother. Be gentle with yourself.


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