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Why do I feel guilty about my sister's death by cancer, even though it was completely out of my control?

12 Answers
Last Updated: 05/11/2020 at 7:02pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
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Melissa Strauss, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

I am client focused and believe everyone has a strength. I feel confident in seeing clients with generalized and social anxiety, depression and relational goals.

Top Rated Answers
February 12th, 2015 12:22pm
Often individuals look for answer and a reason to explain things; When something tough happens and it is out of our control the fact that we can not explain and answer our own questions to why something happened unfortunately causes many to subconsciously feel guilty. The most important thing to remember is that there is nothing to feel guilty about for it was not your fault in anyway. To overpower these negative thoughts you should rebuttal to them with positive thoughts such as the good memories you had with your sister. Make thinking about your sister a good thing with good connotations for that's what you deserve and how she should be remembered.
June 29th, 2015 7:18pm
I understand because when my mum died of cancer at 48 I felt the same way I was only 19 at the time why do i feel all this guilt inside, why someone so young could die I really didnt get it, I thought maybe I was a bad person and this was someway someone punishing me, it wasnt till a lot later on that sometimes that i had to change the way I saw things, in some ways I was lucky to have had someone in my life that had made me a strong person, someone who pushed me into doing things gave me guidance so I was lucky to have had all that even for just a short time, some people dont even get that after a lifetime. I look at a butterfly and i see my mum and know that she is there around me. Think of all the good things that you had with your sister and make her proud.
July 27th, 2015 2:50am
I'm so sorry for your loss. Despair, which is part of grief and sadness over the loss of a loved one, makes our emotions all jumbled up, as we tell ourselves that we're at fault. The emotions we feel are so strong, that we find ourselves mixing in guilt with sadness and grief, mixing anger, mixing all of that. It's a normal part of dealing with loss.
July 31st, 2015 4:27pm
I think we naturally feel like there's always something we can do, or could have done more of. And then once the loved one is gone, we look back and think the should have/could have thoughts. This is very common, but once you can push that self-blame out of you, then you can begin to cope with the loss.
June 6th, 2016 7:25pm
That's perfectly normal! If you don't think you spent enough time together, you'll feel guilty about that because you won't spend any more time together in this lifetime.
May 11th, 2020 7:02pm
I am sorry about your loss. Losing someone close by cancer is painful. You might be feeling guilty for number of reasons from just thinking maybe you did not give her enough time or blaming yourself for not being there for him, etc. Understand what you feel and accept the emotions so that you can deal with it. Talking to someone about what are you feeling exactly might help you overcome this. Grief is something complicated, it might be because you have not said your good bye properly as well. Talk to someone who understands you and who is there for you, sort through your emotions, accept those emotions and then let go of them by dealing with them in healthy way which is again, talking to someone. May your sister rest in peace.
April 3rd, 2015 6:02pm
Death is a natural process and you have nothing to do with it. Blaming is a normal human mechanism.
April 16th, 2015 4:07pm
We humans hate the things we cannot control and often blame ourselves for not being able to do so. There may be underlying situations to the cause for example; not spending as much time with her as you feel you should have, perhaps not treating her as good as you could have or even simply because you felt like there was something more that you could have done when even you know that you couldn't have. The main cause for people's guilt when someone dies is that they weren't as good a person as they could have been to the person who died. The best thing you can do is get it all out and mourn.
April 29th, 2015 6:15pm
Because as a family member it's the hardest thing to see how one dies without being able to do anyth.
September 27th, 2016 7:50am
It is completely normal for a family member to feel guilt after someone's passing, But you did nothing to cause it and there isn't much anyone could do to fix it. Just remember she loves you and she's watching over you.
May 9th, 2017 4:45pm
I think that no matter what you did or what happened to your sister, we all have the reaction to feel as if we could have done something to help, even though it may have been completely out of our control. This can really go into effect with anything, but if it involves our family members I think it has a more profound effect on us.
January 8th, 2018 10:49pm
It is common to feel guilty when a loved one passes. It may not be your fault, but there is still that pit of guilt in you. It is just your bodies way of sympathy.