One of the hardest battles I’ve fought since hearing of my loved one’s death by suicide has been against guilt.
Over and over should haves, could haves, and would haves whirl through my mind.
“I should have realized the dark place he was in.”
“I could have traveled to visit him and help him deal with the crisis in his life.”
“I would have prayed more diligently—if only I had known.”
“I should call him,” I had said a number of times since he had surgery. Instead of calling, I had repeatedly decided a different day would be a better day. Now I’d never be able to talk to him again on this earth.
I chastised myself for not giving more emotional and spiritual support, declaring myself guilty of not loving enough and not doing enough.
Guilt woke me in the night, and I longed to turn back time and do all the things that kept going through my mind believing if I had only done them my loved one would still be alive.
One day last week as I called out to God to help me overcome guilt, he reminded me that I had been telling others not to blame anyone for my loved one’s death—that he was responsible for the choice he made.
God showed me that my guilt was about blaming as well. I was blaming myself deciding that somehow “it was my fault” because I had not done everything possible to try to save his life.
A saying a counselor said to me years ago came to mind, “Blame and shame is the devil’s game.”
God wanted me to stop beating myself up. He encouraged me to confess any ways I wasn’t as loving as I could have been and then receive His cleansing and forgiveness. (See 1 John 1:9)
Then God spoke this to my heart,
“Love… keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV
He reminded me, “I am love. I keep no record of your wrongs. If you love yourself the way I love you, you will stop keeping a record of your wrongs.”
Then God whispered, “Let me quiet you with my love.”
Zephaniah 3:17 came to mind:
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” NIV
Now I see that this latest battle with guilt is about looking back and mourning over what I could have done, which only adds to my grief.
God wants me to look ahead and ask Him what must now be done. The looking back wraps me in regret. The looking forward and determining to obey God brings peace and an assurance that He loves me and is with me every moment on this journey through grief.
Will you receive God’s peace and assurance as you deal with grief and loss in your life?