The guilt associated with bargaining is pretty shit. Beyond shit actually and it’s really hard to wrap your head around letting go of what you could have done in the moments, hours, days before that could have stopped the death of your loved one.

For me, it just tore me to pieces.

What if… I’d been home from work earlier.
What if… I’d spoken to him more than the 4 times I spoke to him that day.
What if… I’d just got dressed and gone out
What if… I hadn’t argued with him moments before the incident that took his life.

I’m actually a staunch believer in everything happening for a reason which sent me on a further tailspin of emotion. What the hell kind of reason is good enough that he’s not here anymore?
To say my faith in the divine plan was shattered would be an understatement.
Why him? Why us? I started to back away from my faith in divine reason and started hating on the universe. How dare it swoop in, shatter our dreams and break my soul. How very dare it!

The definition of the bargaining phase is to question the “What if’s” but I also think it includes the “If I were to…” also.

If I am really kind to someone today, I’ll wake up tomorrow and he’ll be back.
If I promise to never speed in my car, break silly rules and always be the best person I can be, the universe will give him back. Surely it’ll realise what a silly mistake it had made in taking him in the first place.

But no, nothing I what if’ed or If I’d about was bringing him back. Nothing I did or said would return my world to it’s former bliss.

It took me a while to stop questioning my choices that day and start realising that this was it, it made no difference because I couldn’t turn back time. I just needed to accept that he wasn’t coming back no matter what I did or said and that the what if’s were really just killing me slowly. Torture at my own hand, or mind rather and the outcome wasn’t a reflection on me. I’m not a bad person and neither was he. We weren’t being punished, this is just life.

What happened has happened and that’s it. No backsies, no turning back the clock, no re-doing it whatsoever.

What this phase did teach me on reflection though and it took very conscious living to realise this, is that here was my opportunity to make sure every day counted towards a better life from here on in because we’ve got one shot at it (at least one shot that we remember anyhow) so being the best version of yourself today, this minute even is really important.

Would different choices have changed the outcome? Perhaps.
Is me dwelling on what I could have done instead going to make any difference to the here and now? Not a chance.
Letting go of that was really tough and I still have small bargaining moments but they don’t consume me like they did. I can’t do anything about it, it is what it is.