End of Life is a Good Time For Forgiveness
Forgiveness is a tough thing to embrace for many people. But when facing the end of life, it can be freeing and empowering to let go of the negative feelings and grudges you may have held for many years. And it goes both ways. Perhaps there’s someone you haven’t spoken with in many years and you have heard they are in hospice. This is a good time to reach out and mend fences. This release can benefit both parties in tremendous ways. Here’s why end of life care is the ideal time for forgiveness in Santa Clara and elsewhere.
Hospice professionals see the pain of unresolved conflict every day, and they also see the power of forgiveness at end of life. Peace can come over the terminally ill individual with just the touch of a hand and a comforting word from an estranged family member. But they are also witness to the heartbreak involved when a loved one won’t take a dying relative’s call.
Refusal of forgiveness can be understandable in many cases. Perhaps abuse was involved earlier in life, or maybe addiction or abandonment. But even as we face these tough situations, there is value to the gesture of forgiveness at end of life. In fact, one may say it’s the greatest gift you can give someone. The simple act of forgiveness provides rewards both emotionally and physically. But it’s a lot easier said than done to “forgive and forget.” Just because you’re forgiving someone doesn’t mean you forget the transgression or condone it in any way.
What it does mean is letting go of that burden of resentment that can sit on the shoulders and weigh you down over the years. Forgiveness is as much for the forgiver as it is for the forgivee — perhaps even more so. Releasing that anger and bitterness is not easy. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult things you will ever have to face — and the reasons why so many people never release those emotions, choosing to live a life of resentment instead.
But there are many benefits to releasing the negativity of resentment. Those benefits manifest themselves in both physical and emotional ways, such as:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Reduced symptoms of depression
- An immune system boost
- Improved mental health
- Healthier personal relationships
When the person whom you hurt, or who hurt you, is approaching the end of their life, time is a major factor. By offering forgiveness at this time, you are releasing yourself and the other party of future guilt over leaving things unresolved.
Serenity and Peace
Forgiveness can allow us to live and die with serenity and peace, but only when both parties are willing to be vulnerable in that moment. Forgiveness is truly a gift to give and receive, but it must be reciprocal, points out AgingCare. It can be time-consuming and exhausting to hang onto anger. Perhaps we realize we should let go of that anger to unburden ourselves of it, but oftentimes, pride gets in the way. But forgiveness does a lot of things, on both sides.
- Allows you to take responsibility for your own happiness.
- Helps you to stop playing the victim card.
- Makes you aware that most people are doing the best they can, every day.
- Expands your level of consciousness.
- Helps to keep your expectations tempered.
- Helps you hone your instincts for self-preservation.
- Creates a space to let go and love.
What Forgiveness is NOT
Knowing what forgiveness is and how to go about it means knowing what forgiveness is NOT. Forgiveness is NOT:
- Forgetting: You don’t have to forget or condone the transgression; sometimes it’s important to remember painful lessons for your own self-preservation.
- Reconciliation: No one says you have to be their best friend again. In fact, it’s not always smart or safe to trust the person again.
- Saying you’re OK with what happened: In the case of abuse, neglect, or deep betrayal, there’s no need to say you feel OK about what went on.
- Saying there are no consequences to their actions: Sometimes there should be legal or personal consequences.
- Given because the person deserves it: Rather, you give it because you are ready to forgive.
In the end, forgiveness is letting go of the need to punish someone else and yourself, and the desire to remove the burden from your shoulders and stop carrying hurt and anger throughout the rest of your life. Again, it’s not easy, not by a long shot. But meaning and saying “I forgive you” can bring peace and dignity to end of life.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
Our hospice care teams see the power of forgiveness every day in our patients facing end of life. We offer many support systems to help encourage forgiveness, from chaplains to social workers. Contact us to learn more at 888-978-1306.