Dealing with Regret

A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them”.

-John C. Maxwell


We all make mistakes in our life. Sometimes mistakes are the very foundation of learning. You keep making mistakes until you get it right. When we make mistakes, however, it is important to make sure that we make them right. It is a defining characteristic of a person, rather they accept and learn from their mistakes, or they just let the damage stay while they move on. We can’t always immediately fix our mistakes of course. If we hurt someone, it might take time before you can go back to them and fix what you have done. What if you take too much time and that opportunity passes? What do you do when you want to make something right with a person, but that person has passed away?


We see it in movies and books a lot. We can’t even count how many times we have heard a character say “The last thing I said to them was…” or “They died never knowing that…”. Understandably it is a difficult thing to cope with. Not only did you lose someone that you care about, but you lost them while being on bad terms with them. That mistake you made, you don’t really have a way to fix it now. That doesn’t mean you need to suffer the feeling of it. We know it is going to be hard for a while, but there are ways to let go of that grief.


One of the reasons that these lines appear in so many films is that they also appear a lot in real life. So, what can you do if you find yourself in one of these situations?


Write a letter to the person who has passed on. Don’t hold back on the letter either, let all the anger and grief you might be feeling into the letter. Let them know if you loved them, thought they were a best friend, just be honest in the letter. Don’t worry about anyone reading it or even seeing it. This is your letter and only the ones who let see it will know about it. This is a chance to let any of that negative emotion inside of you out. So grab that pen or set those fingers on that keyboard and let those emotions cascade onto the paper.


What happens next really depends on what you want to do with the letter. While many people will tell you to write the letter, different people have different ideas about what to do with it after it is written. The main ones are:


  • Burn It: Set fire to the letter and watch as all those negative emotions turn to ash and float away. Some people see it as a mental thing, some see it as a spiritual. Most agree that putting your feelings on paper and setting fire to them is a way to let go of them. Plus you have nothing to lose by giving it a try.
  • Read It To a Friend: Let a friend listen to you read the letter out loud. They don’t even need to comment on it, just reading it out loud can help get the feelings out. Really just speaking about our feelings, in general, is a good way to let them out. A letter just helps us to organize them better first.
  • Read it to the Deceased: Have you ever seen the end of Forrest Gump, when he reads the letter to Jenny while standing at her grave? You can do that too. Who knows, maybe somewhere she will hear it, maybe the wind will carry the message to them. Regardless, let it be your way of making peace, of getting these emotions out of your chest and into the world.


Of course, there is nothing saying you can’t do all of these things with your letter. If you really wanted to, you could write the letter, read it to a friend, then to the deceased, before finally burning it and watching the ashes float away. This is your way to grief, and it should be done how you feel most comfortable doing. That is why we work hard to give you room to grief while we handle the funeral arrangements. Don’t carry all that grief and anger while trying to set everything up on your own, let Dale Woodward help you as well with your Port Orange funeral services.

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