Would have, could have, should have are words that we hear during our grief journey. What could have been done differently that the person might still be alive? If we are not careful we can be held captive by our emotions so that the journey of grieving becomes longer and harder than it needs to be.
One of the issues most of us deal with in grief is guilt. We feel guilt for things we did or didn’t do. We feel guilt for things we said or didn’t say. We feel guilt because we are alive and they are dead. We blame ourselves as though we have the power of life and death.
Some guilt is false. If your guilt sounds like what if then that guilt is false. If your guilt involves blame or assigning responsibility then your guilt is false. If your guilt is tinged with regret your guilt may still be false. The cure for false guilt is truth. Replacing or reframing the accusing words with facts. The truth, Jesus said, will set you free.
But if your guilt is because you were negligent or cruel then it is true guilt. If your guilt is because of sin then it is real guilt. If you really did say things that hurt or did things that hurt then that guilty feeling is true. But there is hope. God forgives if we repent and ask Him. And He helps us forgive those who have hurt or offended us. Forgiveness is a key to keep us from bitterness and hate and unforgiveness.
Anger is also a common emotion grieving people experience. Anger toward the dead person. Anger toward ourselves. Anger toward others. And Anger toward God. And when you mix anger with bitterness and guilt you have a deadly cocktail that will harm you if you do not let God help you.
We have no right to be upset with Jesus. Being angry with God tells us that we feel He owes us something. But let me assure you that if you will turn towards God with your anger rather than turn away God will help you and heal you. Amen.
“Grief takes us to places we never thought we’d go.” It also takes us places we never would go on our own. But if you will embrace your grief and let go of your regret and guilt and anger you will experience joy again. Pray, read your Bible, and worship.