Death of Guilt

Guilt makes death a little harder. Or a lot harder. We feel guilty because we didn’t do this for “him” before he died. He died feeling guilty that he didn’t do what he said he would do for you.

Or you want to blame her, that is, make her guilty, for leaving you. She may even want, before she dies, to make you feel the pain she went through bringing you into this world and keeping you clean.

Guilt often fills the air around death and may be a primary reason we try so hard to look away and not get involved.

But death, of course, is not the only time we struggle with guilt in our lives. The struggle with guilt comes early when we don’t yet know the rules, or literally trip over our own feet and bring the prized vase to its demise, the bouncing ball gets out of our control, we pee-pee when we should have held it… We experience shame and guilt without even trying.

But we insist on maintaining our innocence. “It wasn’t me!” “He made me do it!” “You always blame ME!” And my personal best at innocence was, “I didn’t try to!” To which my mother replied, “You didn’t try not to!” She had me there.

Then all sorts of authority figures move in to make sure we get blamed: babysitters, older friends and siblings, teachers, neighbors, preachers… All but the stuffed animals and family dog want to blame us, make us wrong, take our good intentions and turn them into mush. Later, it’s professors, bosses, and spouses. And then our own children blame us. We just can’t get past the guilt.

But here’s the good news. Life isn’t about how guilty or innocent we are. (Reread that.) Life is about commitment to life, come what may, just as it is. Life wants us to commit to it, to understanding it, to loving, to expressing gratitude, to taking action instead of feeling guilty and paralyzed or guilty and reacting with the “fuck-its” because we just can’t win our innocence back.

We can never win the battle for innocence. We are guilty. We are guilty for the things we did, for the things we didn’t do, for the lies we told to make others guilty instead of us, for the anger that rose when we were caught with our pants down, for the way we perpetrated the lie about life’s purposes.

But we can be responsible. We may not be responsible for the death of our beloved, but we are responsible for our own lack of commitment to our own life. And we can finally commit when we stop spending the energy to be innocent or to blame others and just commit to life.

What freedom there is within that commitment! What joy there is within that release! There is no more need to suffer or make others suffer for our sins when we commit to life. Now and forever. Life Forever Now.

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