The dictionary definition of guilt is wrongdoing or wickedness making us deserving of punishment. The definition suggests doing something wrong or bad, or it could mean to you not doing something you think you should have. In either case, the vast majority of us are NOT guilty of our child’s death. We did nothing to “kill” our baby. Even if you feel you have contributed in some way to their death, you can receive peace by seeking God’s forgiveness.
“Instead of bringing our guilt to a God who is waiting to comfort and forgive us, we continue to measure ourselves by ourselves and compare ourselves among ourselves.” When We Don’t Measure Up p.9
Guilt has a physical, emotional and spiritual effect on you. Guilt can be as overwhelming as grief itself. The effects of guilt can include:
a weakening of our character
a weakening of our ability to resolve positively
feeling heavily burdened – like a “lead cape”
turmoil of the heart
a desire to punish
living under tremendous pressure
“It can drain us spiritually, emotionally, and physically, and leave us enslaved to the opinions of other.” When We Don’t Measure Up p.5
Dealing With Guilt On Our Own
We, as humans, use two strategies to deal with our feelings of guilt: an internal strategy and an external strategy.
Internal strategy can be summed up in one word – self-contempt. Simply put, we can hate ourselves.
External strategy can be explained as – WE attempt to humanly fix what is wrong. We usually cannot fix it on our own, and when we realize we can’t, we feel guiltier.
“Self-contempt or self-imposed guilt convinces us that we are to blame for what’s happened to us and… so we set out to fix what is wrong.” When We Don’t Measure Up p.13
The Real Problem
“We are staking our well-being on a god (us) other than the God of the Bible.” When We Don’t Measure Up p. 20
We have lost our trust in God feeling that He has let us down. We think, “I don’t trust You, so I will fix this. I can do a better job.” We become both self-absorbed and self-reliant.
We need to do three things to overcome our guilt:
1. Accept the truth
The truth is…we didn’t do anything to kill our baby – AND we didn’t have control over the situation. Talk about it until you can let go of control.
2. Trust God
Turn to God and ask for help to “fix” what is wrong. God doesn’t attack or abandon us. God forgives us and helps us heal. God’s mercy can soften our anger and quiet our guilt. God’s love helps us see the truth.
3. Learn to Love
As we focus on God’s forgiveness, it will allow us to love – first, ourselves and then, others.
Change takes time. It means we will become less and less controlled by the guilt, anger, etc and more driven by love. The more we are driven by love, the easier it is to get back to living and enjoying life.
Working Through Guilt
Try this activity to help you work through your guilt.
MY GUILT: Not going to the hospital sooner.
MY RESPONSE: It’s my fault my baby died.
GOD’S RESPONSE: You did everything you knew to do at the time.
MY CORRECT RESPONSE: I did everything I knew to do. I did not kill my baby.