Forgiveness and Grief

I just finished watching a video of one of my favorite people, Brene Brown. I am continually inspired by her work and this video was no different in that sense. 

In the video she talks about forgiveness--something that is extremely hard to really define or understand because it has so many aspects to it. In her work, she found that a major component of forgiveness is actually grief. This doesn't make a bit of sense at first glance but as you think about it, as you listen to her talk about it, it begins to actually be kind of obvious. We cannot fully forgive without grieving.

This is why I find that doing "grief work" in therapy is so very important. Even if its not the death of a loved one, we have other things to grieve--the loss of a friendship, the loss of a job, the disappointment of not having things be the way we want them to be. Of course not all of these things require forgiveness. 

So many clients that I see feel "wronged" by others in their lives--whether it was in a romantic relationship or whether it was a friend that said or did something that was hurtful, or even if it was a parent that didn't protect them or any number of other scenarios. These are the stories that get carried through life and that affect us in ways of which we may not even be conscious. In order to stop "carrying" them, we need to allow them to "die" we need to grieve and only then can we "move on."

This also reminds me of a wonderful story that I sometimes read to clients. It goes like this:

A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side. The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to touch a woman. Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on his journey. The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. After rejoining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them. Two more hours passed, then three, finally the younger monk could contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?” The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”

I hope you will watch the video (click the facebook button below and view it from my Facebook page) and think about what things in your own life may need to be allowed to die so that you can grieve, forgive, and move forward.