Can you forgive?

Tis the season, right? To forgive, or to at least revisit that place we find so hard to go.  We all have people or things in our lives that could use a little forgiveness; people we feel have wronged us, hurts as far back as childhood, injustices against our children, dreams dashed due to a cruel word or a myriad of other endless issues.

What’s most important to remember is that forgiveness isn’t the same thing as condoning.  Forgiveness is a place where we can let go of the resentment and accept the past for what it is–the past. We must give up the hope of changing the past and accept what is now and stop the “if onlys”.

Once we can truly say to ourselves, “I accept that the past is over and there is nothing I can do to change it”, we have made the first step to forgiveness and to moving forward in the present.

Most important is our ability to forgive ourselves.  We tend to beat ourselves up over the “what if’s” and erroneously make ourselves culpable for the evils that have befallen us.

While wanting to work through my intense anger and loss at Stefanie’s death, I found that far too immense to tackle.  Instead I tried forgiving myself and others for less daunting issues to see if I could really do it – practice makes perfect and all.

Being both giver and receiver of less grave, yet still hurtful deeds, the first thing I did was to look and see if there were any positive outcomes.  Amazingly I discovered that inevitably there were.  It’s a very good exercise for anyone to do as I learned a lot about my character and value system, and saw how each time I was wronged there was some slight fine tuning.

I’m working on Stefanie’s death, and although I confess I’m not there yet, it has brought me much joy in other ways. The extra closeness of family and the caring help of others—family, friends, neighbours, strangers—who, by their thousand acts of kindness were not only a comfort, but were a confirmation of the essential goodness of human nature.

More over, Stefanie has been my best teacher allowing me to grow exponentially.  When I can (and it’s not always possible) think of her and honestly thank her, although I feel sad, I also feel deep love and appreciation.  Who else would I want to teach me some of the most important lessons in life if not her?

The focus of my life has changed, my perspective on things very different, and now I’m able to filter out most that does not bring me happiness and just concentrate on that which does, “following my bliss” so to speak.

Now, truthfully, I’d trade it all and proudly be a stone cold bitch just to have her back (some might argue I still am), but the past is done and no amount of wishing is going to change that.  So, I must embrace the gifts she has given me and not waste a single one.

We are all works in progress and I believe that all of us can find a silver lining in each negative event.  We should try, at least, to forgive ourselves and accept that today is all we have in which to feel joy and allow our dreams to propel us forward to a better tomorrow.

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4 Responses to Can you forgive?

  1. louisa says:

    I rarely respond to blogs or posts such as these…although I’ll be the first to say that Patricia Hung and family have the most right to hang on to anger and regret and blame. There are so many atrocities in life that it’s hard to measure our ‘loss’ versus others, world over. I feel for the women of Afganistan — the atrocities against themselves — their daughters et al. I feel for the families in Japan — families who have lost everything — their stoic attitudes are so humbling. I feel for those in Africa — girls who are ‘not worthy’ of education and who are sold as slaves to their families. I feel for the 13 year old girls of pologamists who are sold to older men. And then I feel for the fortunate Canadian families — we have everything. We have equity — we have respect — we have homes and family and food — even if it comes from food banks. We are so fortunate in this country — and the pain of our loss is not less than or more than the loss of other women in this world. The difference is that the women of this country have access to technology and computers to share their loss and their stories and their strength. I wish I could change the atrocities that are directed towards women and girls of the world — I cannot — we cannot. But I remain sensitive to and cognizant of the atrocities that we, as women, suffer. I hope for peace, and forgiveness and love in this ‘holiday season’ but know that many families will remain immune to the holidays. Their hunger and needs are great and for that I suffer and feel their pain. I wish for a better world. I hope that our children will create peace and love and acceptance and I pray they will create a better world than we have created. I have hope during this holiday season.

    • Thank you Louisa for such a beautifully poetic way of sharing.
      I’m not sure we’re hanging onto to those very negative emotions but we’re definitely working through them.
      So many people have suffered much greater losses than either you or me that I would never compare my loss to that of another when each one brings its own grief. Perhaps because of our experiences we share the same feelings for the women of the world, perhaps more now than ever.
      The only way I know to help is to share my story, with no obligation – take it or leave it – in hopes that it will inspire others who are struggling with their own grief.

  2. Jennie says:

    I feel for the loss of your daughter.
    I want to send you a message that you and your family are in my prayers for the holiday season. I cannot fathom what you are going through but know that your happy memories of Stephanie remain perfect.
    You’re tragedy inspires me to continue my volunteer work as a crisis counsellor, especially on those really tough days and heartbreaking cases.
    Peace and blessings,

    • Thank you for your kind words. We are blessed with a great support system in all areas of our lives. Others are certainly lucky to have someone like you volunteering your time to help them.
      Merry Christmas and thank you for the work you’re doing.

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