My 88-year-old great-aunt just died. She suffered from severe Alzheimer’s Disease for years. She was single and had no children of her own. The wake and funeral are a 1.5 hour drive and I already have work commitments. My dad says don’t worry about going, but I feel terrible. Isn’t it important to honor someone’s life when they pass away? Oh the Catholic guilt!

How come all religions think they are the most guilt-ridden? Jews think they are the ones who guilt each other the most – Jewish mothers being one of the leading suppliers of guilt. Protestants and their expertise with passive-aggressiveness can guilt you without you even knowing it – stealth guilt! Catholics do you really feel guilt or is it just a matter of feeling bad about everything? I am going to chat with my Hindi, Buddhist and Muslim friends about this and see if they to claim some sort of majority ownership on the guilt complex supply. I already know what my friend Radha is going to say because 90% of our conversations are about how her parents keep saying that she is disappointing them on a monumental level. Either way you slice it, people everywhere end up doing a lot of things out of guilt.

But is it really guilt that makes you feel you should attend the funeral? Or is it maybe your best self? The one who knows that work is not – and should not – be prioritized over family? Maybe your smartest self is saying, ‘I want to go and honor this person’s life as I would hope others will stop to honor mine when I pass.’ Guilt schmilt Nicey Niecey – you want to go because it is the right thing to do. Not because your Dad is making you (he seems very reasonable and AKA loves reasonable) or because you are expected too, but because it’s the right thing to do. Our hearts and minds nearly always have the answer to our dilemmas we just so rarely listen and follow through. The very wisest part of you is saying to go. You’re suffering from guilt alright. But it’s not Catholic. It’s self-induced.