by BJ Jensen
Moving beyond guilt is a necessary step in the journey of healing from the loss of a child. This particular part of grief can be the most difficult pain of all to overcome. In order to be free of guilt, it is necessary to ask for forgiveness of God, of your child, of oneself and if appropriate of others who are suffering the loss of your child.
God and your child will always forgive you because they love you and do not want you to continue to suffer guilt and sadness. They want you to lead a life of purpose with joy.
Others, including a spouse or close relative, may not be willing to forgive right away, perhaps never. But asking for forgiveness can free you of the burden of quilt, even if others choose not to let go of their grief and hopelessness.
Perhaps the most difficult test is forgiving yourself. When we refuse to forgive, we are held captive like a convicted criminal. Not forgiving sentences a person to a horrible life in a prison of our own making – one where we barely exist. It is difficult but a necessary step in order to move toward the point of healing. Sometimes forgiving takes the help of a trained professional or counselor. Are you willing to forgive yourself or do you want to stay captive on a downward-spiraling path of self-loathing?
Many children’s deaths are accidental, and a life can end in only seconds. No parent can completely foolproof a child’s life. The tragic truth is that fatal accidents can and do happen every hour. When this happens, it is very common for a parent to fall into the self-damaging cycle of the “what if” or guilt trap. Moving through the guilt of this unanswerable question often causes endless tears. Discussing the guilt has helped many parents to move beyond the “what if” trap. Tell those closest to you why you feel guilty, and ask for help. Although you may occasionally get a careless, hurtful response, family and friends will respond most often with compassion. Recognizing and admitting your feelings of guilt is a critical first step.
Put down on paper how you feel. Don’t leave anything out. Plan some sort of “letting go” ritual as a means of moving past your guilt. You might read aloud all of your guilty feelings to your spouse or to two or three close friends and then crumble the paper and toss it into a fire with all of your guilt. As you watch the paper burn, you may begin to feel your heavy burden lighten.
Finally, you must realize that without forgiving yourself, you will never be able to move forward. You must make a determined effort to not allow yourself to ask the “what if” question. It is a futile question with no answer, and only adds to your grief.
By taking very precise steps to rid yourself of guilt, you will lift a heavy burden and finally be able to move forward in your journey of grief. Once you can move beyond the “what if” trap, you will know that you have successfully gotten rid of the gnawing questions that never really have any answers. Healing is about to begin!
This was taken by permission from the book “Finding Hope after the Devastating Loss of Beloved Children” by Dr. Doug and BJ Jensen.
Doug and BJ Jensen, are International Speakers, award-winning Dramatists, Signing Artists, Song Writers, Drama Writers, and Authors of 16 books. Dr. Jensen earned his PhD in Biblical Studies in the area of Biblical Counseling. BJ is the Director of the world traveling LOVE IN MOTION Signing Choir and is a writer of 8 stories found in seven of the CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL books.You can contact them at Jensen2@san.rr.com or on their Facebook page: Bj Jensen San Diego.
Do you struggle with guilt from your child’s death? We would like to send you the eBook, Ten Tips to Overcome Guilt. Just submit your name and email address below. You will also begin to receive a Weekly Word of Hope for bereaved parents (which you can easily unsubscribe from at any time).
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