A Simple Path – To Letting Go of Guilt | The BridgeMaker

A Simple Path – To Letting Go of Guilt

By on Aug 07, 2012

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

Guilt comes in different colors.

Rational guilt burns a bright red, like a traffic light. It signals that your actions are not honoring you, others or the Universe. When you see this color, the wisest choice is to stop before the damage gets worse.

Irrational guilt burns a somber blue, like a melancholy poem. It whispers sabotaging thoughts like, “It was your fault;” “You should have known better;” and “Why didn’t you do more?” When you see this color, the wisest choice is to let the guilt go.

Feeling the burn

Since my brother’s death, irrational guilt has been burning inside of me. Bouts of depression, restless nights and thinking I could have saved him, has damaged my spirit. My head tells me Eric’s death wasn’t my fault, but my heart wants to rewind the clock and do things differently.

But time has a merciful way of offering a little perspective and some needed healing. I’m learning that before I can move past his death, I need to let go of the guilt – guilt my head is telling me isn’t rational. Thankfully, my heart is beginning to hear these truths:

  • My brother’s memory deserves my whole heart; not a broken one that is distracted by the cruel whispering.
  • It’s time to focus on what I need. The energy I’ve spent trying to undo the past is keeping me from living in the present. Precious moments are slipping away. It’s time to hold onto these moments a little tighter.
  • I’m beginning to recognize the feelings of guilt are really feelings of regret. I regret not calling him sooner; I regret not providing the help he requested and I regret being mad at him the last week he was alive. The way to move past regret is to make peace with the truth. And the truth is I did all I could.
  • While my brother deserves love and kindness, so do I. His life is over. There will be a day when we will see each other again. Until that day comes, I will remind myself that if I’m going to be loved, then I need to provide that love and if I’m going to be treated with kindness, then I need to provide kindness, too. Holding on to guilt keeps me from doing both of these things.

Sometimes the simple path to letting go of guilt begins with looking inward and seeing that you are not bad, you are just in pain. And the perfect remedy to sooth your aching heart is to believe these words, “It wasn’t my fault.”

The somber color burning inside of me is smoldering down to a paler blue.

I still think of Eric often. Lately the memories are less about how he died and more about how he lived. I see him smiling, laughing and making the most of every day.

Remembering my brother like this is a better way to honor him. I think if I could talk to Eric one last time, he would tell me, “Mouse, let it go. I’m happy. Please, be happy too.”

For you, Eric, my heart is beginning to listen. For you, brother, my heart is beginning to let it go.

What is A Simple Path?

This post is in A Simple Path, a twice-weekly series of short pieces inspired by my own life experiences. Each post is a simple path to experiencing something wonderful: maybe seeing life from a different perspective, or celebrating its beauty. Click here to read all posts in the series.

The BridgeMaker Founder Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender. Join the community to connect, share and inspire: Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

  • Ah, Alex. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing your inner pain and healing. The stark reality of loss is that grief sucks. (That’s the clinical term for it 😉 ) But your writing reminds me of a phrase from the Bible, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

    I hope you have many more mornings of joy, my friend. 

    Eric, thank you for living your life well and for being a much-loved brother to your Mouse, our Alex.

    •  Bobbi,

      The promise of the morning is the most beautiful gift He provides. And speaking of tears, your message to my brother made my weep for joy, and love.


  • Michellefucignas

    Beautiful…and perfect timing…thank you for sharing your words and your brothers life with us…

    •  Believe, it is my pleasure, and honor to do so. Thank you for reading.

  • Mary Beth


  • Stuart Young

    What a coincidence – I blogged something very similar today! The Sedona Method of letting go. 🙂

  • Alex, I didn’t realize until I read your post that I was in pain. I thank you for your words of wisdom and I now know “it wasn’t my fault.” I now can breathe.




    •  Keep breathing in the truth Linda – breathe it in and allow it to fill you with love.