The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Weddings and Funerals

People experiencing family estrangements often agonize over what to do about weddings and funerals. To go, or not to go? Often, neither option feels good.

The answer is different for everyone depending on the circumstances and whichever decision brings us the most peace.

During my fourteen year family estrangement, I had to deal with this issue a number of times. The most difficult was my grandmother’s funeral six years into our estrangement. Although I loved her deeply, I simply did not feel safe enough to attend. Grandma had refused to see me right up until her death. At that point in my abuse recovery, I still wasn’t capable of facing what I believed would be a continued wall of angry abuse, blame, and rejection. The soul-crushing isolation caused by not attending her service left me devastated. I stayed home and cried all day. Yet, I never regretted my decision.

Two years later, I found an invitation to my brother Brandon’s wedding in my mailbox. Recalling the angry words he wrote to me in a letter eight years earlier gave me pause. Nonetheless, I regarded his invitation at face value, even though I didn’t feel safe enough to attend the wedding.

I immediately sent Brandon and his fiancé a gift along with a letter revealing how honored I was to be invited to their wedding. I told him that I regarded the invitation as a wonderful gesture of love, wished Brandon and his bride-to-be every happiness, and expressed my desire to meet with them after the wedding.

Fourteen years into our family estrangement, I did attend a family funeral. It was important to me to go. I wanted to say good-bye to my cousin and to honor what was a good part of my family history. Although the thought of facing my family felt very challenging, I believed I had healed enough to face the challenge. I am so glad I went.

My gentleman friend went with me for support. We arrived just in time for the service, sat towards the back, and felt touched by the sweet and faithful service.

After the service, we mingled a little to say "hello" to some of my extended relatives, and left. I was prepared to be cordial and go about my way if I had unavoidable contact with my mother or brothers; however, I didn't have any contact with them, nor did they attempt to have any contact with me.

Overall, it was an emotional day, but it couldn't have gone better.

Each of these situations presented their own set of challenges. Nonetheless, to this day, I am satisfied that I did the right thing for me at each point in my estrangement and recovery.

No comments: