How do you deal with the grief of having passed judgment over something you could never rectify?

PineTreeFarmer

Sparrow
Woman
19 years ago today, my redheaded, Italian, Catholic friend pulled out in front of a Mack truck and committed suicide, after having confided something in me that I didn't keep in confidence. I wish he had told his priest. And even if he were a sinner I disagreed with, I wish he were still alive.

How do you deal with the grief of having passed judgment over something you could never rectify?
 

Lamkins

Woodpecker
Woman
I’m so sorry. Guilt and regret, especially in such a serious situation, are so difficult to live with. I ask God to help me forgive myself. I know He’s forgiven me, but I’m harder on myself than He is. I’ve written never-sent letters to my victim, pouring my heart out, feeling those feelings and expressing them rather than suppressing. It has taken a very long time and many letters, but I‘m more at peace about it than not. I’m becoming aware here in typing this that I still have some pain related to this though. I see it as an abscess. It needs to be opened up and all that stuff poured out. It’s painful but healthy, and sometimes has to be lanced over and over again.
 

PineTreeFarmer

Sparrow
Woman
I’m so sorry. Guilt and regret, especially in such a serious situation, are so difficult to live with. I ask God to help me forgive myself. I know He’s forgiven me, but I’m harder on myself than He is. I’ve written never-sent letters to my victim, pouring my heart out, feeling those feelings and expressing them rather than suppressing. It has taken a very long time and many letters, but I‘m more at peace about it than not. I’m becoming aware here in typing this that I still have some pain related to this though. I see it as an abscess. It needs to be opened up and all that stuff poured out. It’s painful but healthy, and sometimes has to be lanced over and over again.
He's dead. He killed himself after I told his secret. He'd had a house built across the street from a daycare, and was behaving in a sexually deviant manner. I think God forgives me, but the thing about being a protestant is that it's ALWAYS between you and God.
 

muhtea

Robin
Woman
Suicide is so deeply affecting on so many levels. Perhaps it would help you to talk to a priest - even if you're not Catholic you might be able to make an appointment and at least have a talk. If you don't want to do that, have you spoken to your pastor or anyone like that?

You can't blame yourself and you need to unburden yourself. Yes you blabbed, but he made his choice. He burdened you with his confession that he should have taken to a priest, and now you are burdened with guilt, not to mention the pain he has passed on to his family, the innocent truck driver, and so on. It's not your fault he chose the path of suicide and there's no way you could know that's what his response would be. It sounds like you told his secret out of concern for others that might have been harmed - what were you supposed to do exactly? What would you say to someone else in your shoes? (These are questions to ask yourself. You don't need to answer them here unless you want to.)
 

Gracie

Sparrow
Woman
He's dead. He killed himself after I told his secret. He'd had a house built across the street from a daycare, and was behaving in a sexually deviant manner. I think God forgives me, but the thing about being a protestant is that it's ALWAYS between you and God.
Based on your statement here, anyone would have been legally required to share this if there was any chance that a child could have been harmed. Know in your heart that if you acted in a way that could help a child, you did the right thing, regardless of his action. I don't mean this in a heartless way because I hear your guilt and pain and I know I'm not really touching that - but I am trying to say that you did the right thing if you acted in the best interest of protecting children, regardless of outcome. I will pray for your heart on this issue though, @PineTreeFarmer.
 

Gracie

Sparrow
Woman
Based on your statement here, anyone would have been legally required to share this if there was any chance that a child could have been harmed. Know in your heart that if you acted in a way that could help a child, you did the right thing, regardless of his action. I don't mean this in a heartless way because I hear your guilt and pain and I know I'm not really touching that - but I am trying to say that you did the right thing if you acted in the best interest of protecting children, regardless of outcome. I will pray for your heart on this issue though, @PineTreeFarmer.
Well, I guess I don't know where you live but if it's anywhere like where I live (large Western country), I'm feeling confident in saying what I said about a legal obligation.
 

debeguiled

Peacock
Gold Member
This sounds more like regret than straight up grief.

And just because God forgives, that doesn't make it any easier to forgive yourself.

Is it possible that having one or two serious regrets in your life is a good thing?

It sensitizes you not only to the consequences of your actions, but it makes it easier to forgive others for thoughtless acts that lead to big repercussions.

Sometimes carrying a pain that never goes away actually makes you a better person than you would have been otherwise.

Are you willing to carry this burden if it serves God's plan?

At very least, you are now someone who can certainly keep a secret.
 

Dr. Howard

Peacock
Gold Member
What a weighty event. I am sure the 'what if' debates you have in your head would be similar to anyone.

Have you ever thought of the other 'what if' circumstances that would have been worse? I am sure you have...

Another way to say it is, what if the outcome that occurred and was precipitated by your 'blabbing' was the best of a worst set of possibilities. For example, what if you kept the secret in confidence and your friend proceeded to get worse and harm children. The guilt of 'not blabbing' at that point may be even heavier than what you are feeling now. You may have lost a friend, but saved the lives of multiple children.
 

Jessie

Sparrow
Woman
Proverbs 5 says this: For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as wormwood,
and as sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead to Sheol.

When people engage in sexual sin outside of marriage, the result can be death. Not always, because the Proverbs speak in generalities. But in this case, it sounds like he paid the price the Bible speaks of. This is not your fault.

As far as his secret that you did not keep in confidence-you must examine your heart and your motives as honestly as you can. Were you gossiping, happy to share something scandalous? Were you hoping to seek counsel on an issue that was over your head? Did you tell his secret righteously, in a Matthew 18 context? Perhaps it was a little bit of the three. Whatever your motives were, confess any sinfulness to God and ask Him to forgive you. If you have done that and the guilty feelings keep coming back, you will need to do as it says in Ephesians. Put off the old behavior of your former self and put on the new creature you are in Christ. When you put OFF old behaviors, you must put ON new ones. I’d train your heart to focus on the things that are true, pure, holy, lovely, etc as it says in Philippians. The truth is that as a Christian, you are forgiven. Christ took that sin and died for it. To try and earn forgiveness cheapens Christ’s work at the cross. Pray, and repeat the gospel message to yourself to replace any wrong thoughts that come up. Remember, although we put away the “old man/self”, he will remain with us until we die. Our job is to continually put him to death as Christ sanctifies us.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are TRUE whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things“ Philippians 4.
 

Lamkins

Woodpecker
Woman
He's dead. He killed himself after I told his secret. He'd had a house built across the street from a daycare, and was behaving in a sexually deviant manner. I think God forgives me, but the thing about being a protestant is that it's ALWAYS between you and God.

Yes, I saw that in your original post hence my “unsent” letters comment. It helped me unburden myself even knowing the person would never read them.
 

Mac

Pigeon
Woman
Please know that what happened is not your fault, no matter how much it might feel like it.

I struggled with the burden of feeling responsible for the death of a loved one. I dreamt that he died but didn’t tell him. A few days later, I read in the paper that he had been murdered. Even though I didn’t cause his death, I felt guilty that I could have warned him and perhaps prevented it.

The grief I felt was paralysing and I was unable to move forward at all for a long time, reliving it over and over in my head. It was the immense guilt that I held that was blocking me from processing the grief. Acknowledging that guilt and asking God to forgive me and to release those feelings is what helped me to heal from the grief.

I learned that many of his friends and family also felt guilt for different things they could have done that may have prevented his death and talking to them helped to put my own feelings into perspective. Forgiving myself was, and still is, the hardest part.
 

Aurini

Ostrich
Were you gossiping or were you raising an appropriate warning?

To illustrate the difference, say you're in High School, and one of the kids is a loner from a bad household, who draws pictures of guns and wears a dark trench coat. If you bring it to the attention of your school authorities, or your parents, in an attempt to protect the school or get him help, then that's a good thing. If you and your buddies laugh at him behind his back, then you're an agent of evil.
 
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