for·give verb fər-ˈgiv, fȯr-
: to stop feeling anger toward…
: to stop blaming…
In my book I state: “(In grief) We may need to work on forgiveness—of ourselves or of others; that is very important, and in either case, it frees us.” My son Brent came to me inspirit the night he died on a friend’s motorcycle, asking forgiveness. I was angry because it was careless on his part, and it put his family, friends and fiancé through tremendous pain. I realized then that I needed to forgive him. I later realized I also needed to forgive myself for mistakes in my marriage or raising my children, and his father for ending our 30-year marriage after Brent died. We were all doing the best we knew how to do at the time. Holding onto the pain and anger was only hurting myself.
1) Do we forgive others for their sake or our sake? FOR OURSELVES!
That may sound selfish, but it is not. If it is someone else that you need to forgive and it is bothering you, you are the one suffering or stressed over it. If you can forgive them and let it go, you will be less stressed and it can help you to heal, especially if that person has anything to do with your child’s death — even in a indirect way.
But if it’s you that needs forgiveness— especially regarding a lost loved one — for some error in judgement, or even if you neglected to do something you should have. You still must forgive yourself and let it go in order for real healing to begin. None of us is perfect.
2) Can forgiveness help us to heal from grief? ABSOLUTELY
So often, there are complicated circumstances in the loss of a loved one that involves blame, guilt, or regret. This is especially true in the loss of a child, because we feel so responsible for their well-being. But it does them nor ourselves any good to hang on to those negative feelings. They want us to let go and allow ourselves to heal, which will hasten once we can forgive — the deceased, others or ourselves — and move on.
3) HOW can I let go and forgive? HERE ARE A FEW IDEAS:
- Understand there is NOTHING you can change about the past and NOTHING you can predict or guarantee about the future, so WHY hang onto the anger? Does it help you? Really? … I doubt it!
- BREATHE… then IMAGINE yourself in the person’s shoes you are trying to forgive — and the situation from THEIR VIEWPOINT… can you understand? Even if you don’t agree. If not, TRY AGAIN. Slowly breathe through it and LET IT GO. You may get RELIEF!
- Write a ‘FORGIVENESS LETTER’ on the recommendation of Karen Noe, Medium and Author. She states in her blog: “Forgiveness will allow you to create your world with love and understanding, shifting your focus from anger and judgment to joy and encouragement.”
- Work out the bad feelings through exercise — venting the frustration, until it feels small and weak enough to let it dissipate.
- Journal about your anger and why it is difficult to forgive the other person or yourself. Keep writing and try to take the opposite position, defending the other point of view. Once you see it from both sides, you may be able to let it go.
- BURN the bad feelings in a FIRE ceremony. It can be in a group, a spiritual ritual or in your own fireplace. Build a fie and do some slow deep breathing or attain a meditative state. Check with your inner feelings to confirm what you need to let go and if you are ready or ask for spiritual help. Write down those feelings on a piece of paper, and make a ritual out of tearing them up and throwing them into the fire. Release them as they burn.
FYI — a 9m radio interview on Forgiveness that I did recently.
I offer both virtual and local support programs to help those grieving the loss of a child, find hope and happiness again through the use of holistic tools.
Wishing you peace and healing…