"we have been conditioned to seek approval from other people from others for the things we say and do...Most people have been taught that feeling guilty about something shows that you care about it, and that not feeling guilty means you don't, which then makes you a 'bad' person..."
That's VERY true, isn't it?
Infertility roused up a sum of guilt in myself for not being able to provide a grandchild/grandchildren for my parents and hubby's parents. It took time to get rid of this guilt because at that time I also felt other very strong emotions on top of the guilt (jealousy, envy, grief, sorrow, pain, anger, doubt, etc.) that I had to deal with.
I remember sharing to someone about this guilt (after we had more or less resolved our infertility by letting go) and she said, "Don't let anyone make you feel guilty about something like this!"
After reading her words, I realized that none of my parents and in-laws had actually ever (deliberately) made me feel guilty about it. They never nagged me and asked me, "When are you going to make us grandparents?" or things like that. The guilt came because I DID want to give them a grandchild/grandchildren and I knew they wanted to have more grandchildren if they could ('coz that would bring them joy as well). It's funny that sometimes other people don't necessarily do or say things that make us feel guilty, but there are things inside ourselves that make us feel that way.
I remember wondering if I should have felt "guilty" because I couldn't come back home for my Dad's funeral, but I must admit that I didn't feel any guilt because I felt that I had done everything I could when he was alive and not long before he passed away I had a chance to say what I wanted to tell him. The only guilt I felt was only because I left my bro and Mom busy before and during the funeral, though I'm sure that my relatives would help out, but still it made me feel a bit bad for not being able to be there for them.
I remember one close friend once told me not to feel guilty for having left my family behind (esp. when my parents were having health problems for example) because on the other side of the equation, my brother and family are able to enjoy having my parents with them (for example my Mom helps take care of their kid and still cooks for them). Hearing my close friend's words soothed me.
Guilt is very sneaky, though...healthy guilt would/should propel us to improve ourselves and to learn from our mistakes, but unhealthy grief can only serve to burden us more and more as time goes by. I've managed to cut off the chain of guilt that weighed me down for not being able to give grandchildren to both sides of the family (as well as for not being able to turn hubby into a father), but I'm sure there'll be many more guilt lessons to learn from in the future. May God help me discern which is which...