Guilt vs Control: Your Mind Would Rather Be Guilty Than Helpless

Recently a young widow commented on one of my social media posts, questioning why I didn’t organize a group of prayer warriors when my husband was diagnosed with leukemia.

She stated, “If many people pray together, God hears prayers. You should have done that, Kelci. Life is precious.”

She went on to share her own experience, mentioning that right before her husband’s unexpected death, she had many dreams of him dying, not understanding their meaning at the time.

She expressed regret and guilt, saying, “Now daily, I am thinking I should have prayed for my husband and saved his life.”

Now, why am I glad she brought this up? Because it’s a topic that keeps popping up, and it’s high time we address it head-on.

Here’s the deal: Your mind will always rather be guilty than helpless.

Guilt tends to be more manageable to process; it often feels more within reach than confronting the harsh reality that, in certain situations, such as death, we have no control!

But why does this guilt thing happen? Here are some reasons why a griever might lean towards guilt rather than accepting the lack of control:

Need for a Reason:

  • Guilt provides a reason or explanation for the loss, giving the griever a sense of order in a situation that may otherwise feel chaotic and inexplicable. It can be challenging to accept the randomness or unpredictability of life events, and guilt helps us make sense of the senseless.

Avoidance of Helplessness:

  • Facing up to the fact that we’re powerless in certain situations is like staring into the abyss. Guilt, in this scenario, becomes the escape hatch. It lets us believe that if we’d just done things differently, maybe, just maybe, we could’ve altered the outcome.

Illusion of Control:

  • Guilt provides an illusion of control over the past. It’s a way for the griever to create a narrative where their actions could have made a difference,even if the harsh reality is that sometimes, there’s nothing anyone could’ve done.

Protection from Overwhelming Grief:

  • Grief is a beast. The pain is raw, and it can drown you. Guilt steps in as a shield, letting you focus on something tangible—even if that means unfairly shouldering the blame.

So, if you find yourself knee-deep in guilt, cut yourself some slack. It’s a coping mechanism, a way our minds try to grapple with the uncontrollable chaos that is life and loss.

It’s essential to approach such situations with compassion and understanding. If you find yourself experiencing this you must explore your feelings within a supportive environment. 

Accepting that some events are beyond anyone’s control is a tough but necessary part of the healing process. It’s like navigating through a storm; you can’t control the weather, but you can learn to dance in the rain. Let’s break free from the guilt game and take a step toward understanding and healing.