It seems to me that grief and guilt go hand-in-hand.
Both are feelings that make you want to crawl into a corner and hide. They both are terribly difficult to shake and leave you feeling helpless and hopeless.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
It’s been almost a year since my Grandmother passed away. She was a woman who had a large hand in raising my sisters and I, a person in whom I confided, and someone who fiercely loved her family. I respected her, helped care for her, and loved her immensely.
Her death wasn’t a surprise. It came after a long battle with cancer. For quite a few months, my Grandmother made me promise that after she passed away I would remain close with my extended family. She pleaded with me that I would take care of my mother after she was gone. She was the strong force that held her family together, hosting holiday after holiday, encouraging us to stay close.
Of course I promised her. I promised her I would carry on the traditions. I would take care of family. I made sure she knew that I understood exactly why these things were important to her. I made sure she knew exactly how important SHE was to me. I was totally at peace with losing her.
Then she died and everything changed.
You see, I kept my promises. I just didn’t keep them how my Grandmother would have wanted me to. I know that my Grandmother pictured me doing exactly as she did. However, I decided to do things in ways she could not.
Some days I have an immense amount of guilt for the ways in which I chose to keep my promises. I feel guilty that my family is no longer close. I feel guilty that I haven’t seen many of them since her funeral.
The more guilt I feel, the more grief I feel. I miss everything about the days before she died. I think about how she would have loved to have met my son and how much he could have learned from her.
Amid all this grief and guilt, I remember something. I cling to this and I repeat it over and over.
“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” – Galatians 5:1 (MSG)
When I let grief and guilt control my thoughts, I allow them to put my mind in slavery. I allow myself to be paralyzed by my fears of disappointing my Grandmother. These thoughts are not from God.
If I am following Christ, my conscience should be clear. If my decisions align with His principles and His Word, then I have nothing to feel guilty for.
Ultimately, this realization helps me ease my grief as well. My Grandmother clung to the Word of God. She instilled in me a love for Him. When I read His Word and cling to his promises, I remember her.
And then I remember that I will see her again.