Ask: Guilt After a Suicide

My son, 42, was addicted to heroin. He committed suicide over a year ago using both heroin and carbon monoxide. Some days, guilt overwhelms and haunts me. My “head...brain...right mind" knows better, but somehow the Ego takes over. Help. Thank you. – BA

I am very sorry for your loss. No parent expects to outlive their child. I hope you have around you the support that you need as you go through the grieving process. Both the disease of addiction and suicide tend to leave a lot of guilt in their wake, which only adds to the pain of grief.
All guilt represents THE guilt at the core of the personal thought system (ego): The belief that you have separated from God. This belief takes the form of you believing that the personal self and its world are your reality. This is why the personal experience is so painful. You cannot escape guilt when you identify with a personal self; the only way out of pain and guilt is to release the personal thought system from your mind altogether. Then, only the Truth and Its peace, are left in your mind.
It is when you go through the worst personal experiences that you are closest to the very core of the personal thought system. This is why guilt is pounding you right now as you experience this horrific loss. If you find that you cannot simply observe the personal thought system’s guilt and let it go as you rest in God, then you need to find out exactly what the personal thought system is saying to you. When you cannot let go of the personal thought system’s thoughts it is because you believe them. These thoughts are tied into the story that the personal thought system has for you as a personal self, and they give form to the guilt that you feel. They will be some form of how “bad” or “wrong” you are for things that you did or did not do for your son. Ask the Holy Spirit to join you in looking at the specific thoughts that you have about your relationship with your son. These guilt thoughts can be on many layers. Some with be conscious; others will rise to the surface as you become willing to look on them and let them go.
To overcome guilt, you have to be willing to release the story that the personal thought system has for you. In Truth, you are not a personal self; you are One with God. When you go through an experience like this, it gives you an opportunity to forgive the thoughts that you have for yourself as a personal self. In essence, you do not forgive individual incidences about which you have thoughts that you need to release; you must forgive, or let go of, the whole story that you have for yourself as a personal self.
True forgiveness means recognizing that you are One with God and that nothing else is real. It comes only as God becomes more real to you. You have to develop your awareness of God before you will be able to forgive the thoughts that cause you pain. As you become more aware that God is Real, you will live in a state of forgiveness, which is really the recognition that there is nothing to forgive.
Looking at guilt thoughts can seem like a frightening process, because, before you see that the thoughts that cause the guilt are not real, you believe them. So, remember as you embark on this process, that what you will find is that the guilt that you feel is not justified. Also – very importantly – remember those experiences of God that you have had, whether a direct experience of God through Revelation, or an expression of your awareness of God through a miracle: Guidance from the Holy Spirit, insights and changes in perception that shifted you toward peace, answers to your spiritual and practical questions, etc. Even being a student of A Course in Miracles is a miracle, because you asked for peace, and the Course came into your awareness as the means to help you attain peace. Revelations and miracles are the “proof” that you are not separate from God; God is still right within you. They undo the very premise of the personal thought system’s argument that you are guilty. Guilt is never justified; it is always caused by the mis-belief that you are separate from God.


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will said…

I'm not speaking to what the Course says or doesn't say but in times of extreme stress when the egos voice is so loud it is incapacitating I have gone to short term therapy and used medication. The therapy allowed me, in a safe space, to say what was tormenting me. Get it out in front of me so to speak. The medication was invaluable in getting me to a place where I could use my tools again. Much Luck to you.
Anonymous said…
in your blog above you wrote: "You have to develop your awareness of God before you will be able to forgive the thoughts that cause you pain."

This seems like a catch 22. I thought the practice of forgiveness brought about one's awareness of God. Otherwise my starting point would have to include the very goal I am trying to achieve.
ACIM Mentor said…
In my experience, I was unable to truly forgive until God became very real to me. I tried, but I was stuck in the personal thought system's "forgiveness" - this really happened, but I'll rise above it, etc. There was nothing to replace what seemed real to me, so I could not truly forgive.

Since I've reached a point where God is a real experience for me, then practicing true forgiveness - the recognition that only God is real and nothing else is real - has become the way that my awareness of God is reinforced.

Keep in mind when you read the Course that Helen was experiencing the Voice of God - God was already a very real experience for her, though she resisted It. For many new students, however, God is a nice idea, but not yet a real experience. So, first they have to develop the awareness that God is real before they can let go of what seems to be happening in the world (forgiveness).
Anonymous said…
Though you may have explained this elsewhere, can you tell me how one develops an awareness of God? Since I thought it came from practicing forgiveness I'm now a little confused. Do you mean just understanding the idea that only God is real or are you saying one must have a direct experience with God first in order to begin forgiving truly?

(Reminds me of an old Steve Martin joke:
How do you become a millionaire?
First, get a million dollars)
ACIM Mentor said…
No real shift will occur if God is just a nice idea; you must experience God. A direct experience of God (Revelation) is not necessary - an indirect experience(miracle) will do. This is discussed in the last paragraph of the article.

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