– Peter Gabriel
It’s no great secret that life would be a lot less stressful if there weren’t any other people to deal with. Other people can be a great pain in my patootie. I am not a saint. I’ve wished a lot of people dead when I have been pushed to the wall (literally or figuratively). However, in my life, four times I wished a person dead and four times they did precisely that in less than a year. The four died from a car accident, a heart attack, cancer and suicide. Before I started Prozac (and grew up), I felt deeply guilty about those deaths.
And it wasn’t as if I could confess to anyone about them. For decades, I kept all of my fears inside my head, because if I did tell anyone about my guilt, I was afraid of the following reactions:
- They wouldn’t believe me and try to get me institutionalized
- They would believe me and get me arrested
So I wondered how many other people encountered strange circumstances of which they could tell no one else about. It must cause a lot of stress. We have more than enough stress in our lives without having guilty thoughts about someone’s mortality hammering about our heads. And we do have the guilt, even for completely illogical reasons, what can we do to get rid of it?
Any death (whether wished or not) brings about guilt in the living eventually. This is one of the normal stages of grief. (Other stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). Even though you might have had genuine cause to wish someone dead, they were a still a part of your life. Most people are bound to go through some kind of grief process for people they know even if they hated their guts.
This doesn’t help matters when some organized religions, in particular the Catholic Church, teach that you can be guilty of murder merely by wishing to kill someone (called “sin by thought”). There is a grain of truth in this. Before we do any action, we tend to think about it first. This blog post, for example, was thought about long before I actually lay my fingers in the keyboard. And, as you probably realised at this point in your life, thoughts can produce stress.
For many centuries in many cultures, there was a strong belief in “the evil eye”. This was the belief that one look of hatred could kill the looked at. Thoughts are powerful — but if they are not accompanied by action, they just dissolve like sugar in water.
However, even Merlin the Magician couldn’t wish another person dead with a thought. If this was true, then people like [insert name of least favorite politician here] would’ve been pushing up daisies years ago. But inexplicable things happen. Could just, once in a blue moon, a thought kill another person? Even practitioners of the occult come up with the answer of “No.” The only person you can hurt with a death wish is yourself.
Many New Age, Eastern and occult practices teach that we are more responsible for the health and vitality of our bodies than we realize. Our powers of belief or non-belief can readily help or hinder our getting or recovering from illness. A 2007 study from Germany concludes that just believing acupuncture can help heal back pain will ease a patient’s pain — whether they were getting genuine acupuncture treatments or not. In conclusion, your thoughts just bounce off another’s body. It’s their own thoughts and actions that determine whether they live or die.
So, don’t feel guilty that you are still alive. There’s no rhyme or reason for it. You just do not have that much power over another person’s life. If you do still feel guilty, you do need to talk to a doctor or a therapist about it. This could be a sign of a serious but treatable physical condition, like major depression. Besides, there’s nothing you could say that would shock them. They’ve heard it all.
Hope this helps.