By January 2017, I sense that Karl and I have fully forgiven each other.

In the last two years of Karl’s life on Earth, we had settled into a peaceful and loving way of being together. Then, just as our path seemed to be rising to meet us, our lives were thrown into the air. Now I am sorting through that detritus. And, because I have seen unresolved anger over the death of a partner cripple the emotional life of a close friend (Heather), I want to explore deeply anything in my relationship with Karl that still needs forgiving.

I am confident that I am not experiencing survivor guilt here: I sincerely believe I did everything in my power to save Karl in the car, to soothe his passing in the river and to send him on his way, untethered by my grief. I did it with all the skills and confidence I could muster in my shocked state.

And Karl repeatedly reassures me of the beneficial effects of my healing in the river. He repeats that message a few weeks before I move to Canada in May 2017:

The strong communication channel we forged in the river when I demised: that was so important to me. It was also important that you let me go – that you did not hold me back. That powerful gesture in the river has made much of this communication possible.

The Tweed River where Karl died

Is there STILL more?

And I ask repeatedly, “Is there still more?”

In early February 2017, a year after Karl died, I am asking both of us, “Is there still more for which I need to beg forgiveness?”

More healing is needed, including my need to address my complaints about Karl’s addictions. They have been disabling for him. At some level, I know that, though throughout our life together, I persisted with my denial about them. Nevertheless, I find myself declaring, “They were not so earth-shattering! I was prissy.”

I apologize for choosing my friend over Karl for my power of attorney, an act that genuinely offended him. I apologize for that undeserved insult. I also apologize for ignoring him when he told me of an awkward interpersonal situation with his mother when he was a teenager. I was self-obsessed and would not listen. My abuse was more important. Now I beg, “Can you forgive me now?”

As I dig deeper, I unearth more potential for apology. I handled his November 1998 suicide attempt poorly. I feel ashamed of my behavior toward him at that time. I was so angry then. It was a terrible shock, I was terrified, and I received no help myself.

Now I beg Karl, “Please forgive me for being harsh with you when you were suffering so much.”

Blaming Karl

Over our years together, I blamed Karl for being lazy, disorganized, and not living up to his potential. Now I apologize. I reframe all my relationships with him. I focus on what went right in our relationship, rather than where I feel we failed. I become more and more aware of Karl’s good qualities. As I reflect on his work, especially his work building our house, I say: “Now I overflow with gratitude. I was harsh. You are a precious soul who does not deserve to be treated harshly.”

I acted unfairly in my business dealings towards Karl, as well, humiliating him in front of my staff. That was mean. Repeatedly firing him was appalling behaviour. I ask his forgiveness again.

When we were building our house, I occasionally blamed Karl for things that were not his fault. A lost surveyor’s report? I found later he was not responsible. I say I am sorry for that. I also totally forgive everything Karl did that I felt was “bad” at the time.

At the end of this enormous purge of guilt and blame, I cry:

I thank you for your total forgiveness. What you gave me has no measure. It’s priceless. It’s love! Thank you!