Saturday night is a time when I like to curl up on my sofa, dogs on my feet and be entertained, like many people in these tough times that means switching on the TV rather than going out and one of my current favourites is the programme “Merlin”. An amusing nonsense about the young wizard and a young King Arthur, generally there’s a moral about doing the right thing but it’s fairly light handed. This week though, there was a moment near the end that I found really profound. If you haven’t seen it yet and want to – stop reading now!
The plot centred on a troubled spirit that was out to enact revenge on Arthur for leading the raid that killed him and his family. Instead of trying to battle it, Arthur set out to explain his actions and apologised with sincerity. The spirit listened carefully but remained in possession of one of Arthurs knights until he said “I forgive you”. He was then able to leave peacefully and move on to the next world. It was uttering the forgiveness that set him free – not hearing the apology for the wrongs.
The definition of forgiveness in the dictionary is to “cease to feel resentment against.” However, I prefer the version used in the Grief Recovery Handbook “forgiveness is giving up hope of a different or better yesterday”.
Neither of those definitions suggests condoning an offence yet most people mix these two concepts together. If someone has done something that hurts you and then disappears from your life either by going away or by dying then you are left with the hurt. Barring miracles you will never hear an apology from a dead person, most living people aren’t going to apologise either leaving you in torment a bit like that fictional spirit I mentioned earlier.
Russell Friedman, co-author of the Grief Recovery Handbook often is heard to say “forgiveness is like sobriety, you can’t feel it until you do it”.
As the person carrying around the pain, refusing to forgive simply means you get to keep the pain. The offender lives life oblivious. We would never suggest you forgive someone to their face. Chances are it’ll be received as an attack and cause new problems, of course in the case of someone who died it’s impossible to deliver face to face forgiveness. However, forgiving that person out loud to another human being has the desired effect of setting you free from the hurt.
If you want to find out how to go about this & more about this concept then I recommend reading the Grief Recovery handbook, taking the actions described on your own or with help from a Grief Recovery Specialist will help you set your spirit free.