Disclaimer: From time to time, I feel led to go back into my grief journey and share parts of it I just wasn’t ready to make public while I was in the middle of them. This is one such experience. Please know you are always welcome to pass my posts along to those who you feel would be encouraged by them. Here’s my experience with forgiveness:
“What’s the most significant act of forgiveness you’ve ever experienced?”
I’ll never forget the day when I could answer this tough question out loud. I took a deep breath to hold back the tears….and I answered honestly:
The day I forgave my husband.
It took me years to verbalize a moment that was a pivotal point in my grief journey.
For so long I felt ashamed for my anger toward Tony. I felt as if it diminished our love, our relationship; it diminished how much I cared for him.
To be honest, I can’t think of a time in our marriage where I ever got angry at Tony. Sure, we had disagreements, we hurt each others feelings, but there was never an intense anger.
I never imagined being angry at him.
My anger came during my 2nd year of grief. I had checked off all the “firsts” of that first year, just like my counselor and all the grief books had told me.
But I had not checked off anger.
I didn’t anticipate it coming either.
It actually manifested in a series of re-occuring dreams. It took a counseling session to decipher what was going on. When I recognized my anger and who it was directed toward, I let it simmer for several weeks. It was all an internal battle waging war in my heart and mind; from the outside I just seemed exhausted. It was all too raw to talk about except through counseling and a few trusted friends.
Here’s my blog post from that very time period.
What I can admit now is that my anger was toward Tony for making a reckless choice that day on top of Stone Mountain. Of course, he did not know his choice would end his life and forever alter mine. He was just being his adventurous self and crossed over the same fence he crossed over multiple times growing up.
Still, I was angry at him for his choice.
But what I realized in that anger is that it did not take away one ounce of my love for him, one moment of incredible marriage to him. It did not cause me to think any less of him as my husband.
I learned that anger was a normal emotion of grief; it was okay for me to feel it.
My Great God even met me in it.
And eventually, He led me to the other side of it…once again in my sleep.
It was the very last dream I had of Tony where I could see his face. I remember that he looked at me intently as he said with tears in his eyes, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Then, he grabbed me up into the biggest hug.
It is a hug that will last a lifetime.
I awoke weeping. His apology was exactly the gift of grace I needed so that I could fully forgive him. I wouldn’t recognize until later that it was a critical step toward my healing and beginning to let go.
Accepting his apology through a dream was a bittersweet moment of freedom. I moved from no longer being angry and entered into a season of incredible sadness.
That season eventually gave way to acceptance.
I never imagined I’d get to the stage of accepting my husband’s death.
I never imagined myself doing a lot of things.
Good thing, I don’t get to see into the future.
God knows best. And my great God is the Ultimate Forgiver. He’s also in the business of restoration.
Dearly loved, grateful for forgiveness,