What do Money, Bills and Guilt Have in Common

I sat across the table from a young man. He came to me for advice on finances ranging from paying his bills, gaining access to money in his trust account and how to build a savings.

His father had recently passed away and funds were placed in a trust account that was meant to provide him a financial safety net. In spite of good intentions from his father, it was extremely difficult for him to receive any amount of money. This man, I will call him Darren, was struggling. He needed guidance on how to get what he wanted. His pockets were empty and so was his bank account. His life was turning upside down because his support system was changing. He felt as if he had no one to talk to and he did not know what to do. So, he came to me. I was grateful that he felt comfortable sharing his problems.

He is 29 years old, and I could not stop thinking that he was close to the same age as my son. Connor would be 28 years old, if he was still alive. The problems he is experiencing are much the same problems as Connor’s. Connor frequently was out of money and borrowing it, sometimes from me, family, or friends.

The last time he borrowed money from me, I asked him and his girlfriend to sign a note stating they would pay it back. It was intended for his girlfriend to realize he was borrowing money on her behalf. If he never paid me back, I was okay. But he did not know that.

When Connor committed suicide, he was struggling financially and facing the possibility of losing his job, making his money situation worse. Connor hadn’t asked to borrow more money since signing the note. I did not know how bad things were.

I wonder if having him sign the note kept him from asking for help. If I gave him more, would have the situation not been so dire? I think about it and wonder if having his debt to me was part of the decision of killing himself.

I started playing the “What if” game in my mind. What if I told him he didn’t have to pay me back? What if I just gave him more money? What if we had the same conversation I was now having with Darren? Guilt started to creep in telling me lies, lies that I didn’t do enough for my son. I got a knot in my stomach. I felt like I failed him.

I hadn’t felt guilty about this until Darren and I started talking. Why now? Why was the guilt surfacing? I am not sure, but I knew that I had to stop it. I took my own advice and remembered that I am not responsible for my son’s actions. I did not put him in this position, nor could I fix it. He was an adult, and I could not manage him.

My heart aches for whatever pain my son was experiencing, lack of money, potential of losing his job, his self-esteem ruined or possible physical pain. I miss him dearly.

I can’t do anything about the past however, I can do something about today and the future, starting with Darren. I can give him the support he needs now.

Darren has a dream of moving to another state. It is time for him to step into “adulting”, be on his own and be responsible for himself. In spite of his circumstances, he was upbeat and positive. He told me he could do what I suggested and that things would work out.

I went from feeling guilty to joy knowing that I was helping him.





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