Can forgiveness restore a person’s sense of hope for a better future?

Yes, this can happen and here is one example.  A study by Hansen and Enright (2009) was done with elderly women in hospice.  Each had about 6 months to live. We screened the participants so that each of them had been hurt deeply in the past by a family member and each participant still was not forgiving.  This was our shortest forgiveness intervention ever, 4 weeks.  It was short because the life-span expectancy was short for each of the courageous women who volunteered for the study.  At the end of the study, those who had the forgiveness intervention increased statistically significantly in forgiveness toward the family member(s) and in hope for the future.  Some of the participants called their family to their bedside and talked about forgiveness and reconciliation in the family.  Why did hope increase significantly?  I think this occurred because the participants now knew that they were leaving their family in a much better position, a place of forgiveness and harmony.

Here is the reference to that research:

Hansen, M.J., Enright. R.D., Baskin, T.W., & Klatt, J. (2009).  A palliative care intervention in forgiveness therapy for elderly terminally-ill cancer patients. Journal of Palliative Care, 25, 51-60. Click here to read the full study.

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