Guilt or the Void: Facing a Lover’s Death


On Tuesday it was four years since Valerie died. I admit, it’s getting easier to accept, though I still had a good cry on the way home from the grave. Certain songs still trigger tears, and I dream about those days around her death several times a week. I live them over and over: a twisted Groundhog’s Day with no conceivable end. There is no end to Love when it’s snatched away.

I carry a lot of guilt over her death, though I rationally know that I was not the cause, and there was little more that I could do to stop it. It’s more that I have guilt over how I acted in those days. I waited at the locked door for fifteen minutes before calling 911. She was conscious, and trying to reach the door and let me in. I thought that she was drunk, even though that would’ve been beyond unusual for her. It wasn’t until she failed to reach the door that I called the EMTs. I didn’t ride in the ambulance with her, because I was afraid that I would take up too much space and keep them the EMTs from doing their job (a legit fear, since I was close to 400 lbs at the time).

Worst of all, I left before they took her off life support (note: she wasn’t alone, her family was there). In my twisted, grief-addled mind, it seemed like the right thing to do. I couldn’t handle it. I thought that it was a moment for her to be with her family, and I wasn’t important enough to share it. If I saw her die, it would break me. I was also out of medicine, and skipping a dose for me would’ve been very dangerous. I drove the three hours home, and how I didn’t drive off a cliff, I don’t know. I thought about it with every turn.

But why do I carry the guilt about her death. I’ve been pondering this for four years now, and I think that I have the answer:

I need someone to blame. I don’t want to blame anyone else, not the doctors (though something happened in the hospital. She was semiconscious when we left Tuesday night, and brain dead by Wednesday afternoon). I don’t want to blame Val. She did nothing wrong. I don’t want to blame the new birth control that upset the way she metabolized her other meds, leading to toxicity. So I blame myself. I nit pick and obsess over what I could’ve done differently.

I hold onto this guilt for my own sanity. If I accept that there is no one to blame, then I must upset that terrible things happen to wonderful people for no reason. There is no cause and effect, just a series of tragic circumstances. If there’s no cause, then I have to stare into the Void. Shit happens. There’s no control, and the worst can come for any of us, at any time. That would break me.


But I’m already broken. I’m already sick. I’m already blaming myself. Would accepting that nothingness change anything.

No. Let me have my guilt. Let me tether myself to irrational reason. I want to believe.

But I know that I’m innocent. I know that there is no blame.

I face the Void, and no matter how I resist, it still takes me.

There is nothing. We are ants in an ant farm of billions, and over billions of years. Shit happens, and it always will.



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