Forgiveness During Grief is Healing
Forgiveness is a powerful tool. It can reconcile many relationships, even those with people we have lost. Forgiveness is an important part of the healing process in overcoming the grief that surrounds you after a loss. Whether you are forgiving another family member, the deceased, or even yourself; it can be cathartic to be forgiving. Throughout life, we are taught to forgive. We are told to “be the bigger person.” It can be hard to get to the point in a situation where you are comfortable with forgiving.
Why is Forgiveness Difficult?
Forgiveness is often hard because it can sometimes be equated with condoning, or being fine with what was said. Forgiveness is not ignoring the circumstances, but accepting them and growing from them. It may be easier to say “It’s not fair,” but that isn’t going to make you feel better. Truthfully, forgiveness might not make you feel better at first, but it can over time. Forgiveness is not a fast-fix solution to grief. It is just a step we can take towards becoming whole once more, whenever that may be.
Anger Towards the Deceased
When a loved one dies, we are hit with a veritable onslaught of emotions. Anger is often just one of them. We may feel anger for a number of reasons, but ultimately, this anger won’t solve anything. Anger towards a loved one who is no longer with us will only sour your feelings towards them, and make you feel guilty because of it. Overcoming the anger through forgiveness is the best way to traverse the waves of negative emotions felt during the grieving process.
Anger in Grief
Anger can not only prevent us from accepting our grief, but it can bottle it up. Rage and hurt feelings can be as a cork in a dam. You won’t be able to overcome grief without letting emotions flow. You don’t have to be quick to forgive, but you shouldn’t let whatever caused the feelings of pain and hurt stop you from working through your grief. If something needs to be done, do it. But anger for the sake of anger brings nothing but pain, to yourself and others. Buddha had once stated “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
When it comes to the loss of a loved one, we are often wracked with guilt about the “should haves.” I should have apologized for this. I should have said yes to that. I should have been more careful. I should have been there. We, as humans, are going to have flaws. We are going to make mistakes. We have our limitations and weaknesses. Forgiving your mistakes is the first step towards preventing the same ones later. Forgiveness is a tool to grow. It is not a crutch to hold yourself up with when you make mistakes, but rather a guide towards preventing those mistakes in the future.
Strength in Forgiving
Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone, including yourself. Forgive others, for yourself. That may sound selfish, but in truth, you are the person who your anger affects the most. Forgiveness has the potential to propel us forward and help us grow stronger. Start the process of forgiving slowly. Take an honest look at what that hurt has done for you. What have you missed out on by holding on to that hate? What have you really gained? At the end of the day, odds are that you have lost out on a lot more in life by maintaining that anger.
The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are a number of resources out there. For our Grief Resource center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here.
For almost 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.