Can you really forgive someone who has died?
Yes. It is not complete forgiveness in that you forgive, the other accepts that, and then you happily reconcile. Yet, you can say a kind word about the person to others or donate some money to a charity in that person’s name. This is gift-giving in an indirect sense and mercy in the form of gift-giving is part of forgiveness.
I have believed that one does not forgive unless the other person apologizes. You say differently. Can you give me at least 3 reasons why it is ok to forgive someone who does not apologize or even refuses to do so?
Yes, I can give you three reasons as follows: 1) There is no other moral virtue on the planet that has a rule connected to it that someone else must engage in a certain behavior or say certain words before you can engage in that virtue. For example, you can be patient whenever you wish. Also, you can be fair to others no matter the circumstances. Why now is forgiveness the only moral virtue that must not emerge until the other person utters those three words: “I am sorry?”; 2) Your waiting until the other apologizes gives that person tremendous power over you. You could be stuck with harmful resentment or even hatred if the other refuses to let you forgive and be free of this toxic anger; 3) Your free will as a person is hampered if you must await permission from the other (with the words, “I am sorry”) before you can forgive. Here is a fourth reason: Suppose the person passes away before saying the three words. You now are stuck with the resentment with no possibility of releasing that potentially harmful emotion for the rest of your life.
Is it healthy to let the other person (whom you are forgiving) know that you are forgiving, or is it better to keep this to yourself?
When you tell the one who offended you that you are forgiving, please make sure that this person knows what forgiveness is and is not. In other words, if the person thinks that forgiveness is just “letting it go,” then this person might try to take advantage of you. If the person knows that forgiving is an act of mercy and it occurs along with a quest for justice, then it is good to let the person know you have forgiven.
I am a parent with a child who is angry. This started when my husband divorced me. I say my child is angry because of rather quick temper tantrums. Yet, when I talk with him about his anger, he is in denial, telling me that he has no anger. What advice do you have for me to begin helping him to see that, indeed, he is angry, actually quite angry?
First, I think you need patience with your child. He is deeply hurt because of the divorce. I say that because you say his temper tantrums began in the context of the divorce. Rather than discussing his anger, I recommend that you gently talk with him about his wounded heart. Give him time to see that he is deeply hurt by his father leaving. Once he can see this, then talking about forgiveness is a next step. Once your child has the safety-net of forgiveness (that can lessen hurt and anger), he then likely will be open to seeing that he is angry and that there is a solution to it–forgiveness.
Your Unfolding Love Story for 2023
In March of 2014, we posted a reflection here in which we encouraged you to grow in love as your legacy of 2014. The challenge was this: Give love away as your legacy of 2014. We challenged you again in 2015…..and 2016……and we kept going.
Our challenge to you now is this: Give love away as your legacy of 2023.
One way to start is by looking backward at one incident of 2022. Please think of one incident with one person in which you were loved unconditionally, perhaps even surprised by a partner or a parent or a caring colleague.
Think of your reaction when you felt love coming from the other and you felt love in your heart and the other saw it in your eyes. What was said? How were you affirmed for whom you are, not necessarily for something you did? What was the other’s heart like, and yours?
Can you list some specific, concrete ways in which you have chosen love over indifference? Love over annoyance? If so, what are those specifics and how are they loving? When it is January 1, 2024, and you look back on the year 2023, what will you see? Now is your chance to put more love in the world.
As one commitment to that love as expressed through forgiveness, you might consider signing our Forgiveness Pledge here: https://internationalforgiveness.com/forgiveness-pledge/
Tempus fugit. Your good will, free will, and strong will can point to a year of more love…..and the clock is ticking.