Guilt With Grief Recovery

Guilt with Grief Recovery

February 4th is an important day for me (Shannon). It’s so important that this February 4th, all day, something was nagging at me. I kept thinking that I was forgetting something. I kept checking my calendar, my emails, worried that there was a deadline that I was forgetting that I had, and just didn’t put it on the g-cal. That evening, we recorded our podcast, it being the month anniversary of our launch, and I thought, “well, maybe that’s it”, but it wasn’t. Not until walking up in the middle of the night, February 5th did it hit me like a ton of bricks… February 4th is the day Pharrell passed away.


For those of you who may be new here, Pharrell is our pup who passed away in 2017, our senior pup, the pup. Pharrell was the catalyst for me, of all things pointing towards this journey that I am on today. It was in 2017 that so much happened to turn our lives into a different direction, but his passing was the most difficult thing I had ever been through, and the grief was just unbearable. February 4th was traumatic. I never thought I would get over it, let alone that date. Every February 4th since, I have dreaded, though, admittedly, they come a little gentler with each year.

Pharrell passed away in the 6pm hour, on a Saturday, so for a while, every 6pm on Saturdays were terrible. Then, that got easier. For a while, I couldn’t drive the same route I drove the day he passed away, then that became doable. I couldn’t do some of the same activities I did that day, just because the record player was too much to replay. People would always say, what they say, “time heals all wounds” and I would want to stab them, each and every time they said it. There is a meme that I posted that first year that says, “My therapist says, ‘Time heals all wounds, so I stabbed him. Now we wait.” I never related to anything more in my life! People who brush over feelings like grief really should just keep their mouths closed. I think now, looking back, people just don’t know what to say, especially to someone who lost a pet. There were so many people who didn’t get it, who still don’t. I just wish they would have said nothing, than some of the dumb things they did say. But, I digress.

Guilt with Grief Recovery

5 Years Later

Here we are, 5 years later, and on February 4th, I forgot the significance of the date. While I should be pleased with the fact that it was not soaked with sadness, or me spending the day in a fleeing sense of panic, trying to keep my mind off of the obvious, I just forgot.  But now, I feel a huge sense of guilt. 

Why do I have this guilt? Should I feel guilt that I am actually recovering from my pain? No. Logically speaking, I know that I shouldn’t. I think about Pharrell every day. You don’t have that kind of relationship with anyone, whether it be a human or animal, and not think about them. I have fond memories. He is part of who I am- my mental health recovery and journey today is very much due to him. 

Now that Betty White is a senior, that gnawing at my stomach is looming… of course I think about it with her too. I think about how, unless something happens to me first, I will more than likely, go through it all again. There is guilt in thinking about that while she is still here, and guilt in feeling as though I am putting that blame on someone, or something, perhaps myself. 

Our Brains Are Computers

Apparently all of this is fairly common. According to Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. our brains are like computers that store things away for one reason or another and in different ways for different people. We think that things are stored away, but for some people, information or events. Schwartz says, “anniversaries are powerful occurrences whether we remember them or not. Many times patients in my practice report for the session stating that they feel depressed, anxious or physically not well but are baffled as to why.” Many times people will feel uneasy around death anniversaries, even if they forgot them, because their brains have learned to suppress them. Perhaps it is a way to protect them? I’m not sure, but I would like to think that is what happened last week. 

Guilt with Grief Recovery

Still Healing

The truth is, I had many deadlines, a lot of work, and it was an ok day. I was in a fair mood, but all day, I did feel uneasy. I felt like something was off. I checked my calendar at least 10 times, thinking that there was something missing. There was. 

Will I change anything to remember the date in the future? No. I do have Pharrell’s birthday, and other family member’s birthdays who have passed on my calendar. I do like to honor birthdays or special days that brought joy in a loved one’s life. The day that Pharrell passed away, or our cats, Kiko and Wilson, or other family members… I don’t want to constantly be reminded of those days. I also don’t want to feel guilty about forgetting them. I have to believe that those who have passed would not want us to sit and mourn on the day that they took their last breath, rather live each day to the fullest. I will continue down this path of healing- the path that Pharrell led me down, and I will be ok with that.   

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