Grief Guilt

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When you lose someone you love you will experience a wide range of thoughts and emotions. Many people unnecessarily make what they are going through more difficult by secretly feeling guilty about some of them, either suffering in silence or relegating these thoughts and emotions to the unconscious, trying to stamp them out of awareness.

Guilt can come from a lot of places, and some of it might even be justified depending on the situation, but the specific type of guilt we want to talk about comes from thinking that it is somehow selfish or wrong to be concerned about your own existential situation and mortality instead of focusing on the person who has passed away.

When this happens to you, the way to throw your guilt in the garbage where it belongs is to realize that not thinking about your own mortality or about the deeper aspects of your existence when confronted with the irrevocable loss of someone close to you would be more indicative of mental or emotional disturbance than contemplating these things. Just because people don’t admit to certain thoughts out loud does not mean they don’t have them. As long as you are capable of recognizing that you are a Self who is subject to the whims of fate, old age, sickness, and death you will become acutely aware of it while you are grieving.

Besides, the only way that you could be truly selfless in the throes of grief would be if all of your thoughts and emotions centered around the experiences the person you lost could no longer have. But this is not how we usually grieve. We think about the experiences we will no longer be able to share together. And of course this is selfish because it has to do with us too, just us in relation to whoever we have lost. It’s natural to feel profound longing on account of not getting to have someone we love in our lives anymore, just as it’s natural to turn the mirror on ourselves, using the loss as a trigger to start thinking more about our own impending demise.

Grief is tough, and there is not reason to make it tougher. Adding value judgments on what we are authentically feeling does just that. We turn an already tragic situation into something even worse. A lot of good can come from taking the time to contemplate our own mortality. The more we do it the more we realize how precious and short our time here on earth is. We feel compelled to make our lives full and meaningful while we have the chance. Let the thoughts and feelings come as they come, embrace them instead of burying them, and you will be able to get back to focusing most of your grief on the person you have lost without the accompanying guilt for having taken time to focus on yourself.

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