Choosing grief not guilt has become a new distinction for me as I recently realized I was mixing guilt in with my grief. I don’t think I am the only one who mixes the two together.
It was the anniversary of my mom’s death. I wanted to do something to honor her. My sister suggested we visit her grave at Fort Snelling National Cemetery where she is buried with Dad. As it turned out my sisters where unable to go. I began to wrestle with my desire to go. It is a sizable drive to the cemetery, and I began to question if I wanted to make the journey.
I needed to make sure it was grief not guilt. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. I did feel the tug of obligation. I wanted her to be remembered, to be missed. I questioned what my grief should look like. What was the proper choice to make? What should my grief look like a year later? What was motivating my decision grief or guilt?
75 I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right,
and that in faithfulness you have humbled me.
76 Let your steadfast love become my comfort
according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight. (Psalm 119:75-77 NRSV).
I decided to visit the grave. There was a sense of obligation as I drove, however once I arrived at the grave site, I was filled with comfort. The sadness was still present but being at the grave site brought a sense of closeness to both of my parents. I know their spirits live on, and that I don’t need to be at their grave to draw close to them. God knew I was searching for comfort and through His steadfast love He brought it to me.
Grief is easily mixed with guilt. We mix should’s and have to’s with sorrow. We feel like we are letting them down if we don’t do… It was valuable to remember where my comfort comes from. It was valuable to spend some time teasing apart the have to from the want to.
How do you distinguish grief from guilt? Where do you find comfort? Are you leaning into the Comforter? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to othrs.