9 Lessons on Loss, Forgiveness, and Healing

Posted on 24 January 2012

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” ~Paul Boese

I’m trying to meditate but I find myself overcome by sadness; I’m still grieving after all this time.

I’ve gone through phases of forgiveness recently that have shown me how to acknowledge the painful relationship I had with my mother, the anger and resentment we shared, and the loss of each other that we both went through the older we grew. Maybe it’s not as bad as that, but it feels like it.

My reflections have brought me closer to the woman who I never took the time to understand because we were both so volatile and weighed down with our problems; I’d shuddered when my family would say “You’re just like Mum,” but now I smile because I see how true it is.

I yearn for a stable life, just like her; I live with chronic illness, mental and physical, just like her; I escape into creativity, just like her.

We differ too.

I’ve decided to do something about my anger. I’ve taken steps to open my heart. I’ve learned to forgive and be forgiven. One thing I’ve not done yet is grieve. I lost my Mum.

I lost her gradually through my life in that I didn’t ever feel like we were mother and daughter, more two people living together who spent every day treading carefully, trying to avoid eye contact and arguments.

And then four years ago she died. She’d been sick for a long time and I knew it was coming. I’d prepared myself from a very young age for that cold January afternoon, for when I’d hear the news that she was dead. I was at once free and cut loose.

I lost the person who, if I had only opened myself up, would have protected me to all ends, even if she didn’t understand what I was going through.

I miss my Mum. I wish more than ever right now that she were here so I could tell her how much I need her in my life to protect me. I need to tell her how sorry I am for not taking the first steps and I need to hear from her that she’s sorry too.

The message I was hoping to give you all from the lesson I’m now learning keeps changing so I’m going to give you it in all its forms…

Don’t believe people when they say, “It’s never too late.” This might sometimes be true but other times, it is not. Live now. Act now.

Let grief take the path of least resistance. You may be under pressure to pull it together or get over your pain by the time your therapy sessions are up, but give yourself some breathing space. There is no cure, only growth. Take your time.

Allow yourself to change. There’s no shame in developing a new attitude toward some bad feelings. Others may not understand why you may suddenly forgive after so much time spent being angry, but don’t worry. You are not static. You can change.

Acknowledge your feelings and what you need. Denying your emotional needs will not lead you to recovery. If you need someone to lean on, lean on me. I will support you.

Right thoughts, right words, right intent; this isn’t about brushing negativity aside or letting it take you over. Be honest about what troubles you. Speak truth. Be truth.

Don’t live in fear. Take your right hand and thrust the palm outwards in front of you. Put a halt to all that will terrify and stop you from living. No fear. Be free.

Love: so much better than hate. You have the capacity to love everyone, no matter what has happened, and even if the gesture isn’t given in return. Give openly. Receive gratefully.

Walk on compassionate ground. Think of compassion as something that’s always with you, like the earth beneath your feet, instead of a “good deed’ you have to achieve every day. Let the path guide you. Feel free to make your own.

Realize yourself. You deserve love and kindness too so give it to yourself. Let go of any guilt about being selfish. Enrich your heart. It beats for you.

Forgiving isn’t easy. I’ve spent most of my life being angry at my Mum for everything I felt she failed at, and now I’m pissed with myself for failing to put a stop to it. I have to start somewhere though and now that I have, I’m starting to heal.

If you’re trying to heal, learn to forgive. Forgive others without resentment and most importantly, forgive yourself. We all screw up but then we all breathe and cry and hurt, too. We’re all human.

Photo by h.koppdelaney

About Sam Russell

Sam Russell is a young writer from the southeastern corner of the UK. He’s a cynic by nature trying to prove that cynics can be happy and positive, too. Visit his blog at http://cackhanded.wordpress.com/.

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