How to Get Over the Guilt of Grief

By: VGFS
Monday, August 17, 2020

Guilt is a common emotion following the loss of a loved one.

Perhaps you feel remorse over how you treated your deceased parent or friend before they passed. Or maybe a close family member is making you feel guilty about not being able to attend another relative’s memorial service or funeral service. Worse, you may blame yourself for the death of a loved one or believe you contributed to it. While remorse is common, it can also become a self-destructive emotion when left unchecked.

Below are some tips to help you to stop blaming yourself and begin to release the guilt you’re holding onto.

Talk about it.

Many people ask themselves, “Why did my loved one die and not me?” or wish that they had treated their loved one better. Caregivers, in particular, may even feel a sense of relief once their ill loved one has passed on. Some may ask themselves, “How can I ever be happy when he or she is gone?” If you are comfortable doing so, share your feelings of culpability with those close to you. You may find that others are also carrying a similar burden. Or, they may help you to put your guilty feelings into perspective. Talking about it can help everyone involved move towards acceptance and feel less alone.

Focus on the positive.

Others can say and do things that make us feel guilty, but ultimately, guilt is an internal emotion. Cognitive theory suggests that changing your thoughts can change your emotions. Recognize what is outside of your control so that you can instead focus on what you can control. The next time you feeling of guilt arise, try to replace them with positive thoughts. For example, you may think you didn’t do enough to help your ailing loved one in his or her final days. Instead, try to recognize the ways in which you were there, such as with frequent phone calls or the times you got them through challenging moments with your support.

Write a letter of apology.

Even though your loved one is no longer here to talk to, you can still release your feelings of guilt by composing a letter to them. Speak from your heart about why you blame yourself. Write what comes to you. It can be a simple, “I’m sorry” or several pages long. If you feel that you have wronged them, say so. Tell them why you blame yourself and are feeling guilty, then ask for their forgiveness. It’s important to admit to your feelings of remorse, ask for forgiveness, and let go.

Hold a memorial service.

Even though your loved one has passed on, it’s not too late for you to honor him or her. Even if your sibling handled all of the funeral home arrangements, preparing or participating in a memorial service can still be a deeply meaningful gesture. Try to recall the happy times you shared and hold onto those moments.

Make a donation.

Giving to a charity or organization in the deceased’s name, particularly for a cause that was meaningful to them, can be healing. For example, if your mom was a dog lover, you could volunteer for an SPCA event. If you don’t have the time to spare, consider making a small donation instead. Allow yourself to experience the positive feelings that come with this act of respect and kindness. Not only can it help with the grieving process, but it also serves a greater purpose.

Forgive yourself.

This can be the hardest part of the guilt and grieving process. But as Maya Angelou wisely advised, it’s important to “Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.” Recognize that changing the past is not possible and is outside of your control. Instead of avoiding feelings of guilt and blame, allow them to teach you something new. Vow to do better from now on. Decide to honor the one who has passed by choosing to grow from the experience.

Releasing yourself from the burden of guilt can feel like an impossible goal but it is achievable. Know that your grief is uniquely yours and all of your feelings are valid. Moving through remorse takes time and effort but is well worth it.

If you’re feeling stuck in the cycle of guilt and need additional help moving on, please reach out to our caring team. It is always our pleasure to serve you.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 20 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

When a Death Occurs Away from Home or Out of Town, Take These Four Steps

Losing a loved one is difficult, no matter the time or place. When a death occurs away from home or out of town, do you know the steps to take? In today’s mobile society, end-of-life emergencies a...

VGFS is Proud to Partner with 53 Families Foundation This Thanksgiving

Vaughn Greene Funeral Services is proud to support this year's 53 Families Foundation Thanksgiving Dinner on November 22 at 4pm, held at the Baltimore Convention Center. For ten consecutive...

Seven Touching Ways to Use Cremated Remains to Honor Your Loved One

When it comes to inspired uses for cremated remains, the possibilities are endless. From the traditional to the avant-garde, there is an option for every taste and budget. Over the last decade, ...

Working with Veterans Managing Grief and Loss This Veterans Day

This month, we will celebrate Veterans Day for all United States Military Veterans who have sacrificed their time and livelihood to protect American citizens.  We take the time to thank and h...

Your Guide to Military Funerals: Five Ways to Create a Memorable Tribute

Military funerals can offer touching tributes for those who have bravely served our country.   Members of America’s armed forces make tremendous sacrifices and deserve to be honored, esp...

You Can Prevent Back Pain with Healthy Habits. Check Out These Seven Smart Tips.

If you suffer from back pain, you know how uncomfortable and disruptive it can be. Experts say prevention is the key to a healthier back. From dull aches to incapacitating spasms, back pain i...

Five Keys to Leaving a Legacy: How do You Want to be Remembered?

When it comes to leaving a legacy that is enduring and meaningful, look beyond bank accounts and possessions. The most promising path to immortality isn’t through massive endowments or amazing fea...

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Five Foods to Enjoy and Five to Avoid

Did you know that certain foods can worsen rheumatoid arthritis (RA) inflammation that leads to joint pain? The most troubling symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis — pain, stiffness, and swe...

Ten Essential Facts Everyone Needs to Know About the Protocol for Funeral Processions

You may never have thought about it, but funeral etiquette extends to the procession. Even if you have never participated in one, chances are you have seen a funeral procession—also known as a co...

Good Mood Food: Munch on These Eight Delicious Tidbits to Feel Happier

Food is connected to many human emotions. For instance, it can be a source of comfort, a reward, or a guilty pleasure. Scientists have long studied how what we put in our mouths affects our minds....