Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow cycles of nature, is a help.
We all struggle with regret and making amends. It can be hard to climb out of the canyon of lament at how our lives have unfolded, and to discern what can and can't be done as we move forward. The word regret comes from the Old French word regreter, "one who bewails the dead," and this goes further back to the German root meaning, "to greet." We always face these two phases of regret: to bewail what is dead and gone, and, if we can move through that grief, to greet the chance to do things differently as we move on.
I regret the years my father and I wasted while we were estranged. I regret having fallen backward on my dear dog's right paw when she was 5, which broke a bone under a tendon. I can still hear her yelp. I regret that 1,500 copies of my second book, my epic poem Fire Without Witness, were destroyed without my knowledge. I can hear the characters trying to run off the pages as they burned.
I've learned that regret is like striking a large bell in an empty field and then running through the wild grass trying to gather the sound of the strike back into the bell. It's impossible. All that's possible is to strike the bell again, to have the new sound layer itself over the old. The grip of the first phase of regret is that the pain of grief can make us think if we only did this or that, our pain of loss might be somewhat lessened.
In our grief, we can become fixated on wanting to undo what can't be undone, when the precious urge born of grief, in time, is the want to do something new differently.