Sometimes we feel guilt associated with the loss.  “If only I would have done this, maybe she would not have died.”  Or, “I feel so guilty for not spending more quality time with him.”  “I should not have argued with him.”  The guilt may be big or small, justified or not.

Guilt is a common reaction many people experience, and it contributes to our suffering. It’s hard enough to figure out how to live each day without adding salt to our wounds.    

Perhaps we could have done things differently.  We are human beings with many different motivations and aspirations, different histories and past experiences.  We have acted in accordance with our values and beliefs, and at other times have not, have made plenty of mistakes.  And at the core we loved deeply.

Releasing the guilt and connecting with love is a process.  Below is a movement sequence that may help you in your bereavement.  Feel free to repeat it as often as you wish, and follow it up with writing, drawing, or painting about experience as well.

  1. You can begin by sitting, standing, or lying down.  Feel free to change positions at any time.
  2. Take a deep breath and begin to focus on your body, allowing your body to move and stretch as you tune into it.
  3. Focus in on the idea of guilt and find a body part to move that you can associate with the guilt.  (For example, I’m going to make my right hand full of guilt and move it in whatever way it wants as long as you do not damage it in the process). Notice what quality the movement has, tense or tight, soft or hard, etc.  Notice if an image comes to your mind as you move.
  4. Move with this guilty feeling in that body part for a few minutes, and if it wants to incorporate other body parts in the guilt dance, let that happen.  Imagine letting go of the guilt, releasing it into the atmosphere, leaving your body as you move it.
  5. Have those movements come to a still place.
  6. Now think of the feeling of love, and find a body part (let’s say it’s your left hand) that moves with love.  Notice the quality of those movements, if they remind you of an image or a memory.  Move with love for a few minutes.
  7. Try and move the love into the body part/s that were beforehand associated with the guilt.  Notice what that is like.  Can those loving movements come in and alter the guilty movements?  Mindfully tune into the physical experience.  What muscles are moving? What is you mind thinking as you move with the thoughts and feelings of love now? 
  8. Slow your movement and come to a place of stillness.  Take a deep breath in and out.

Notice how you are feeling physically and mentally.  Releasing guilt may take some time, and like forgiveness, is a process, not a “one and done” experience.  Remember to be kind to yourself.  As grief specialist David Kessler says, “Treat yourself like you would a best friend.”  You are in pain and hurting and will heal with focus on the love that is eternal.  Remembering the love will help ease the pain.

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