Chapter 9: Forgiveness

Thank you.

I forgive you.

Will you forgive me?

I forgive myself.

I love you.


—Raymond Moody and Dianne Arcangel, 2002, Life After Loss: 55.


The only way to heal the wounds of the past, ultimately, is to forgive them and let them go.

—Marianne Williamson, Return to Love, 1996: 75.


Forgiveness is such a powerful experience that it can, under the right circumstances, heal you emotionally, help the one forgiven, and even heal your relationship.

—Robert Enright, Forgiveness is a Choice, 2001: 263.

Forgiveness is the third Gateway of Wisdom we may encounter on our healing path. And it’s the third component of our healing model. We will probably discover that the processes of confronting and passing through that Gateway can be powerful steps toward reconciliation. In my experience, we will probably have passed through the Acceptance Gateway first, accepting the reality of our situation and receiving help from others.

Standing in front of the Gratitude Gateway, we may have expressed thanks to our loved one for the life we had with them and the contact we still enjoy.

The Forgiveness Gateway will then beckon. Only after we have caught our breath and taken a long, hard look at our circumstances can we begin to offer and receive forgiveness in our healing journey.

Forgiveness requires a moral compass

However, even to imagine the prospect of that forgiveness when a loved one dies (particularly when they die suddenly, violently or tragically), we need to access our conscience because forgiveness is a moral act.

As Robert Enright wisely comments, “Forgiveness and receiving forgiveness, understood as a moral exchange between or among equals, offers some hope of reconciliation(Forgiveness is a Choice: 273).

If, as survivors, we are to develop a full understanding of our trauma, we must examine the ethical questions of guilt and responsibility and construct a system of belief that makes sense of our suffering.

Forgiveness is connected to goodness. It takes time.

It takes patience.

And not everyone is up to it.