Stress blog

Forgiving: Forgive others to start healing

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. April 1, 2010

A routine checkup for one of my patients turned into something far more powerful. My patient had undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but he's now cancer-free and looking forward to a life of health and well-being. As we visited, I asked him about his family and his business.

He was quiet for a few moments and then tearfully responded that a devoted young colleague had been tragically killed in an industrial accident. As head of the company, my patient was devastated. He said he'd requested an outside review of the company's systems and procedures. State and governmental agencies documented that every reasonable safeguard had been followed. This was simply a tragic mistake.

Often these situations ignite an avalanche of anger, bitterness and recrimination, followed by bitter, protracted lawsuits that drag on forever. In this case, however, none of this happened. Of course, the family was overwhelmed with feelings of grief and loss, but they did not strike out against the company. Their belief system was deeply anchored in forgiveness. They embraced the notion of a grand plan that unfolds according to a greater purpose.

The family reached out to my patient and publicly forgave him and his company, allowing the healing to begin. It is a rare person who has the gift of total forgiveness in the face of devastating loss. But it reminds us that during tragic times we find sources of strength and peace to keep us going.

What other lessons can we learn from this experience and what stories can you share about the power of forgiveness?

With

Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

Join the discussion at #Stress.

Apr. 01, 2010