Many of you have asked me about forgiveness. The answer isn't easy when you are hurting and licking your raw wounds of obvious betrayal to you. It is hard when the person who hurt you doesn't even realize or will admit what they did. Let's get real. No one wants to admit they are wrong. It is just human nature. Some are just too wrapped up in themselves to even understand the depth of their wrong doing. Others, do it deliberately convincing themselves it is for your own good. Then, there are just the mean people who hurt you and don't ever look back to see their destruction.
After the stillbirth of James Collins, Jr., I was the victim of all of these hurts. I have forgiven the small hurts and the life-changing hurts. Not one of the people who hurt me had experienced the death of a child. No one can ever understand that kind of hurt unless you have been there. It is even hard to imagine that kind of pain. There is no do over or second chance. You have lost that loved one forever, in our case, our son.
My pain was so much more intense in those first raw months due to the fact that not only was I alone, I had to deal with hurtful things said by family, ( mine and James') the very ones I needed most. This post deals my mother-in-law due to her many big hurts. My husband was as much a victim as I was. He was being guided by his trusted mother. My Scar Opened Up Today tells that story. It was awful! It took time for me to forgive her. I do believe she was a victim of the times and society when handing out her advice. I didn't see it then. The pain was too recent. I also believe she just wanted the whole mess to go away. She didn't want to deal with a grieving son and daughter-in-law. Our son was an inconvenience. If she loved him or grieved him, she hid it very well from us. She wasn't a support system, but drug us down. It made an already traumatic experience so much worse! Did she understand that? If she did, she never showed that either. She was silent in her sabotage of our healing. After I had my rainbow children, we began to get along better. I included her on so many activities. She loved our rainbow son very much. The same went for our second rainbow son. She was very close to them and that made me happy. Life was getting much better. Then, our only daughter, Reita Gale, was stillborn at 20 weeks. I thought she would surely treat this stillbirth differently. She was in the room when the nurse brought Reita Gale to my room. She stayed and watched as James and I held our daughter and mourned her. She chose not to hold her granddaughter. When the nurse tried to console her over the death of her granddaughter, she just replied that she already had a granddaughter and didn't have the time for another one. The look on the nurse's face was indescribable. I made up my mind at that very moment that she would be the one left behind at my daughter's funeral. We had a quiet graveside service with only James and our two rainbows attending. She never mentioned the funeral or my daughter again. The hate returned. The words she spoke to the nurse that day were deliberate and just plain despicable. That was very mean, selfish and destructive. It erased all of the work I had done on forgiving her from my previous stillbirth. Not only do we suffer the death of our child, we suffer hurtful actions and words plus the burden of forgiveness falls on us! It is like pouring alcohol on the open wound! However, after time, I just took her for who she was warts and all. Don't give me a pat on the back. All of us fall short. She did a lot of good, but she couldn't handle stillbirth. Yes, she was selfish and mean to me at those times. Yet, there were other times when she was completely wrapped up in my rainbow sons. As my rainbows grew up, she was proud of them and tried to never miss an event in their lives. I took them to visit her and my father-in-law weekly if not more. I learned to love her for loving my sons. I learned to forgive her through love. In her elder years, she thanked me for being a good mother and a good wife to her son. She also thanked me for always keeping her informed about what was going on with her grandsons lives. I often invited her and my father-in-law over for dinner. They loved playing board games with their grandsons. It was a blessing to see them interact together. I don't know when it actually happened, but I forgave her because I grew to love her more and more. The good out weighed the bad. Who of us is perfect? The Lord's Prayer instructs us to forgive others. He gives us the strength to do so if we ask. It may not be right away. Forgiveness is an on going thing. I have to keep reminding myself that I forgive her, especially when the hurt surfaces. My mother-in-law died before seeing any of her great-grandchildren born. I was with her alone in her hospital room when she died. We talked. I talked. She died. Then the others came in. She knew long before she died that I loved her. Did she know that I forgave her? I don't know because it was a subject off limits to discuss due to her wishes. Is she with my son and daughter in Heaven already? I'm not sure because I don't know if that sacred moment is saved for just their Mommy and Daddy.
If you need to forgive someone who has hurt you during your grief, please make a choice to do so as soon as you can. Harboring hate or anger hurts you more than it does them. It eats on you. Their words can't be undone. Maybe they will talk with you about it. Even if they won't, for your sake and the sake of your rainbow children, forgive them. It will be one less burden on you. Pray about it.