Our granddaughter, Quinn, has been with Bill and I this week. She is three and just precious, precocious, and stubborn. Much like her mom was at that age.
We went boating Tuesday and Grandpa thought it would be a good idea to take her on the tube for a ride behind the boat. They were thrown off and she was very upset. Upset at Grandpa. She hasn’t hugged him since.
At three forgiveness is a hard concept. Quinn just knows she doesn’t trust Grandpa right now and is mad at him for scaring her when she fell in the water.
I think grief can be like that. We know death can come any time, we just don’t know when and that unexpectedness causes us to lose trust, to be scared. Sometimes, as was the case for the families in Heartbroken, our recently published book on the opioid crisis, death maybe should have been expected, (like Quinn falling off that tube) but when we aren’t expecting it, it can catch us off guard.
The parents in Heartbroken, who lost their child to the opioid crisis, describe how unforgiving they were to themselves, blaming their child’s death on themselves. Unforgiving in not recognizing the signs of addiction their child was displaying, for not seeking treatment quickly enough. Sometimes, for doing what they needed to, like take their child to their drug dealer, when the withdrawal symptoms were too much for a mother to bear.
Diana Cuddeback, Heartlinks Grief Center Director and co-author of Heartbroken, describes the power of forgiveness in Heartbroken in the Chapter Six Grief Reflections following Ann’s story, whose daughter, Melody, died due to her addiction:
“Ann reminds us to act fast to secure help and to learn about addiction, so that it’s possible
to make informed choices. She also shows us to forgive ourselves: “just don’t feel bad
about what you have to do,” Ann says. This is a powerful suggestion for the act of self-
compassion. Learning to be gentle with yourself and give yourself kindness as you heal
Forgiveness can be difficult, but it’s important to remember as we grieve to be kind to ourselves. As I thought about this on my walk this morning, this poem came to me:
By Ellen Krohne
The hardest person to forgive
Is that person in the mirror
The blame, the guilt, “It’s all my fault”
Can seem so clear
Sometimes, just one kind thought
Can change that inner view
“You did your best, all you could”
Please, please forgive you.
As we help others who are grieving, let us provide kind words that may help those grieving to be self-compassionate and forgiving of themselves. And, yes, Quinn did finally forgive Grandpa.
Heartlinks Grief Center provides grief support to all ages. If you are grieving or know someone who could use assistance on their grief journey, please contact Heartlinks Grief Center at 618-277-1800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Profits from the sale of We Lost Her and Heartbroken are donated to help support Heartlinks Grief Center.
We Lost Her, available at this link on Amazon.com
Heartbroken, available at this link on Amazon.com
Heartlinks Grief Center volunteer and Family Hospice board member
“We Grow Stronger Together”