Self-Forgiveness in Grief

In grief, making choices to move forward, which is necessary for healing to occur, sometimes depends on how willing we are to forgive ourselves past decisions and actions. Guilt can hold us to doing things the same way and having the same thoughts for a long time. This is especially true if we are concerned that the decisions we need to make to kick start the change we desire may hurt someone else, especially those closest to us. Every decision we make affects our immediate loved ones.

As a griever, we can do some crazy things. I absolutely advocate that it is the right of every individual to decide what they need all of the time and that they have the freedom to make the appropriate choices to follow their path. Especially right after loss. However, in grief (especially complicated grief), because the journey is so twisted and complex, what we think we want and need at one point along the path may be entirely different from what we would have chosen at a later point.

If you are struggling with guilt or regret over a decision you made earlier, you could be keeping yourself from moving forward in a positive way today. Stop beating yourself up. Past actions belong in the past. It’s never too late to change your mind about the way you can and will do things today.

When you act with integrity every step of your journey in grief, there’s never a decision or action that requires forgiveness from others. Only from you for you. Be kind to yourself (being kind to others will naturally follow). Love you for who you are and everything you have and are experiencing. Forgive yourself any perceived wrongdoings. Remember, you’re going through a lot. Sometimes you’re going to act a little crazy. It’s also important to remember that all of your decisions, when they are made from the heart, are the right ones for you at exactly the right time. All of your steps are leading you somewhere, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Throughout my own grief, I found that people have come and gone from my life (and sometimes come back again). There have been ups and downs, turns and twists. I have always felt a tugging in my heart to make every decision I’ve made, even those that I would not make today. All of them have kept me on my path to heal. All have taught me invaluable lessons. I have also found that the better choices inevitably outnumbered the questionable ones. Looking back, I wouldn’t change any of them.

If you find you are struggling with a past situation that was a direct result of a decision you made, be gentle with yourself. Give yourself a hug. If you are in early grief, trust that your decisions will become more focused as you gain clarity through healing, and restore balance to your life. If you are in later grief, same thing. No matter where we are in our grief journey, maintaining inner balance is necessary.

The more you can feel tenderness and love for yourself, the easier it will be to forgive yourself. Which simply put, means freeing yourself from any blame and guilt you feel for any past actions.