Why Bother Letting Go of Guilt?

Why Bother Letting Go of Guilt?

In the aftermath of my father’s suicide, there was the guilt. When the shock of his death gave way, guilt was one of the first thoughts on the scene. I was caught off guard by the personal accusations I so willingly accepted. It took years for me to finally settle on the truth of the matter: it wasn’t my fault.

  Why We Blame

As a child, I did not know that blame was a natural response to someone’s act of ending their own life. Yet, during one of our twice a month Macek Maverick calls, my siblings and I discussed the topic of guilt and blame. I was not the only one who’d accused myself. Five of the seven in my family had also felt that they were somehow at fault for our dad’s death. “If only I’d…” was a common thread of thought among us.  

Though my family is notorious for thinking we are the blessed controllers of all things, none of us were in control of the final action our dad chose to take when he ended his life. 

It is natural for us to want to understand tragic events such as suicide. We want to connect the dots so we can make sense of what seems so senseless. Our reasoning goes something like this: If we can pin the blame on someone or something, then we may think we can  understand why it happened. But, it is actually crazy for us to think we can simplify something so complex as someone else’s thinking process. We have no idea what happens in someone’s mind when they conclude that there is no other option other than to end their life. 

For the longest time, I did not want to think that my father was responsible for his own actions. It seemed too cruel of a thought. Yet, when a friend suggested that his death was not anyone’s fault, least of all mine, it made sense. My dad made a conscious choice all on his own. 

Still, it was a bit of a personal wrestling match for me to let myself off the hook. Guilt and blame were something I’d grown accustomed to, their weight was familiar to me. I did not know what to expect if I let go of the load. But once I did, I realized I’d held something against myself that did not belong to me in the first place. 

Why bother letting go of guilt? Though it might feel a little shameful at first to unhook ourselves from our blame, once we do then we’ll realize it wasn’t ours in the first place.

Why Bother Noticing The Best?

Why Bother Noticing The Best Things?

Are the best things in life really free? If we pay attention, there is a lot of goodness that can be gleaned from our world that is priceless. What puts a lasting smile on our faces cannot always be ordered online and delivered to our front porch in a box. What warms the cockles of our hearts is not necessarily something manufactured in a factory and imported from across the ocean. Felt happiness, I think, comes without a price tag, cannot be measured by an economic formula and is exempt from taxes. The best of life, I believe, comes when we notice what naturally surrounds our everyday lives. 

     The Good, The Beautiful, The Priceless

Though I took an astronomy class in college, I still cannot name or identify more than two constellations, the Big and Little Dipper. To view these two marvelous configurations,   all I have to do is look up into the dark sky. The season does not matter; winter, spring, summer or fall, these stars that form the shapes of dippers are always there for us to see. Staring up at them reminds me that although the world I live in is unreliable and constantly changing, the One who created the universe is not. 

Living in an environment surrounded by forests, lakes and mountains offers beauty to behold every day. It costs nothing for me to sit on a bench and stare at the view of the vast lake I live near. A hike up a mountain with a sack lunch more than satisfies my appetite for peace and quiet. Natural hot springs abound along the shores of certain rivers. Sitting in a pool of natural hot water not only softens my skin, but relaxes my whole being. Anyone can afford a free spa with a majestic view.

Even without a hike to the hills or a warm soak in a hot natural pool, my backyard offers priceless wonders. The sight and sound of a hummingbird, the screech of an osprey or the sight of an eagle. Though our bird feeder is filled with food for the chickadees, I often witness the deer feeding from there too. 

If you happen by our house on a summer evening, you would find my husband and I on the back deck engrossed in a round of Rummy or our faces in a good book from the library. For the most part, our entertainment does not involve the use of a credit card.

So why bother noticing the best things in life? It is worth noticing what is priceless because what is priceless is most likely more lasting.