I cannot think of any word or phrase that gives this feeling; perhaps there is none:

a feeling of empathy for another's position, and feeling as though one should apologize for one's actions, but not actually feeling sorry about what one did

The word I'm looking for is not exactly regret because one is not fully in control of what occurred, yet one still wishes none of it had ever happened, but one also knows nothing can return to the way it was.

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    FYI: The words "can not" mean "is able not to." The word "cannot" means "is unable to." The former expresses an ability, whereas the later expresses an inability. For example, "I can not do it" means that I have the ability to not do it, but "I cannot do it" means that I can't do it or that I do not have the ability to do it. Jan 15, 2016 at 6:07
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    How 'bout sorrow? As in, "I'm truly sorry it turned out that way for you, but it was the right thing to do, and I'd do it again if I had to."
    – Jim
    Jan 15, 2016 at 6:57
  • Welcome to EL&U. Please supply a sample sentence containing "___" as a placeholder for the word so that the community can fill in the blank.
    – Lawrence
    Jan 23, 2016 at 7:36

1 Answer 1



to feel sorrow over; repent of; regret bitterly: to rue the loss of opportunities



deep and painful regret for wrongdoing; compunction


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