My mother’s death was hard for me and inspired a personal journey of trying to understand death and grief. As a result, I talked with Dominique, a Hospice counselor. We discussed dying, but our conversations about forgiving taught me the most.
Dominique said: In all relationships, no matter how wonderful they are, there is need to forgive. We hurt each other, sometimes when we don’t even know it: It’s part of being human. Forgiving is not about forgetting. The wounds don’t magically heal. Forgiving is to wish well to the person who harmed us, meaning we wish them fullness of heart and a clarity of mind that aspires to wisdom. Forgiving is not an emotional state. It is an act of willful love that ultimately sets us free, for only in loving are we truly free.
My reaction: During Jeff’s addiction, the pain was extraordinary and I felt lots of emotions, including anger. That anger led to deep-held resentments against many people, including Jeff. I thought I could never forgive, but when Jeff entered recovery, honesty broke the back of the resentments between us and we made amends to each other. For the others whom I did not confront, I’m learning to let go and forgive. Sure, I remember what happened, but the fire in my belly is fading.
Today’s Promise to consider: Forgiveness doesn’t mean I forget the hurts and it doesn’t mean that I give the person a ‘pass’ to hurt me again. It’s up to me to enforce my personal boundaries. Forgiveness is an act of willful love. Today I’ll work to let go of the pain and I will pray for the people who played a part in causing them.