Living with guilt

I'm 28 years old and drive tractor trailer for a living, single and still living at home, my mother recently had a stroke, leaving me to take care of things alone, 3 weeks into her recovery, her dog got out of the house on me, and was killed by a car. She was the family baby and she's gone because of my negligence. I don't know how to keep going without my best friend, I was counting down the days for her to be with her mom again but now I have to break her heart when she is well enough to take the news.
Asked by Caper

Hi Caper. Thank you for reaching out for advice. You're going through a meaningful loss. For both you and your mother. Whenever we are going through a loss, it's essential that we take time to grieve. Pets are just as much family as any human member, and I respect the magnitude of the feelings you must be having.

If there is capacity for forgiveness between you and your mother, it may be helpful to explore that. Sometimes it can be very difficult to forgive ourselves without the help of someone else saying "it's okay, I'm sad about it, but I don't blame you". If you were my client I would definitely want to explore your relationship with your mother to know more about how she may react to the news and give support to you in the process of telling her what happened.

I'm very sorry for your loss. People do make mistakes and accidents do happen. It certainly does not make you a bad person or a person who cannot learn, heal, forgive and be forgiven. I hope this helps.  Take care and please, consider meeting with a therapist more regularly if possible. These are heavy feelings and complex problems that we often do not have direct solutions or answers to, but are definitely approached more effectively when we have support, understanding, and reminders that we are not irredeemable or bad at our core. 

This may be a useful time to connect with any system of belief/faith/worldview that allows you to connect with a source of forgiveness. If you do not have one, this may be a good occasion to explore new ideas and new points of view on topics of loss, grief, and guilt. 

Throughout my experience as a therapist, I've seen people go from a place of overwhelming guilt to a place of acceptance over time. Usually the key component of moving forward is to humanize yourself. So much of this may sound easier said than done, and I'd agree that it is, but by no means is it impossible.

Your family relationships and your relationship to yourself is worth the step you are taking to seek consultation and do the difficult work that comes with acceptance and forgiveness. 

Take care,