One of the quickest and easiest ways to turn my grief into something that is unhealthy and destructive is to play the blame game. When I point a finger at someone else whom I consider responsible for my grief, I attempt to justify my anger and behavior toward that person and absolve myself. This kind of behavior might help me get through today, but it will only serve to destroy me in the long run.
New grief requires survival tactics, so if blaming others helps me get through the first few days or weeks, so be it. For the long haul, however, I am much better off practicing forgiveness, offering grace and investing time in self-reflection.
Let me give you a few examples:
If I just lost a job, I might need a little time to vent about my boss or co-workers to ease the shock and pain for awhile. But if I’m still ragging on these people weeks down the road, I’m only setting myself up for a bad attitude that will potentially reveal itself through future job interviews. I am better off taking some time to truthfully evaluate my strengths and weaknesses. By considering my strengths, I increase my confidence. Where I find personal shortcomings, it serves me well to consider ways to overcome or compensate for them.
If my marriage is ending, my natural instinct is to protect my heart and my pride, which might lead me to express a lot of bitterness toward my ex. However, if my desire to vilify him continues over time, it does more to reflect my own insecurity and unforgiving spirit than to hurt him or his reputation. I sabotage my own reputation and other relationships of mine in the process. Perhaps my energies are better spent considering where I might have been able to make the relationship stronger or what qualities I should be looking for in future relationships.
In some cases, the blame fully lies with another person. Hopefully, these are situations where justice is served in a court of law. But even then, holding onto the anger and bitterness only destroys me. Directing my energy toward something positive such as bringing about a change in legislation so that further injustices do not occur is a more productive use of my time and effort.
Refusing to play the blame game in the middle of our grief is an essential step on the road toward healing and redemption.