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Guilt and grief part 1

Guilt in grief is ‘normal’ a lot of people feel guilty for something when they are grieving, you are not alone in this, as hard as it feels. How though, do you cope with guilt alongside the grief? Firstly, maybe, look at and decide is this guilt or regret? The two can feel very similar but how you deal with them is different.

Guilt is often defined as happening when you do something you know is wrong, (either before or during the act) and which requires reparation of some kind.

Regret is often defined as looking back on an action and feeling you should, or could, have done something differently but couldn’t because you didn’t have all the information you needed, couldn’t have predicted what would happen etc. It is a benign action/inaction which, with hindsight, you may wish you had done differently because of the outcome.

The vital difference between guilt and regret is that with regret you didn’t know or feel at the time that what you were doing was wrong, or you didn’t/couldn’t have had control over the situation.

With guilt, the work is often around taking responsibility, working towards forgiveness, and self-forgiveness and possibly seeking to make reparations (if possible). With regret, the work is often around acceptance and determining how you learn and grow from the experience.

It can be helpful to talk through guilt and regret with a therapist. In the next part of the blog I will set out some steps you can take to work with this guilt.

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