As well as being a sensitive subject matter, this is a difficult blog to write personally. Why? Because I have to confess to something I did for far too many years.
However, what has been done I can no longer repair in this instance. It is too late. Once time has passed there is no getting it back. You cannot negotiate with time.
Yes this post is regarding making peace with your parents or other loved ones (Family members) should you have fallen out and are no longer on speaking terms.
The Inevitable Truth
Now here is something really obvious to you but I am going to say it anyway in the hope it can touch a nerve so you can perhaps make amends, should this topic apply to you of course. And I say it because it can be something we all put to the back of our minds. It is something we don’t like to face up to. It is this;
One day your parents are going to die, they aren’t going to be around forever.
I once read from a very wise person that adult children who are not on speaking terms with their parents, who have unresolved emotional issues festering inside, experience more hurt when the parent (s) pass away and leave this earth.
Adult children who have a healthy relationship with their parents are far better able to deal with the loss than those who are harbouring resentment.
When they reach the 3rd stage of grief, which according to the Kubler-Ross model, is Bargaining, they remain stuck here for much longer. In fact some stay here permanently, unable to reach the 5th stage of grief; acceptance.
This bargaining stage of grief, when you reach it, is filled with deep regret and sorrow. I have been through it 3 times so I am talking from personal experience.
This is where, if you remain estranged when they pass, that your heart and mind will be filled with those awful, “If only” bargaining thoughts.
“If only I had said sorry” “If only I had seen them more” “If only we hadn’t had that silly argument” “If only I had picked up the phone, wrote an email or letter and said sorry” “If only I had seen them more” “If only I had said, I love you”. And many more.
These thoughts can haunt you.
The Time I Can’t Negotiate back
From the age of 15 to about 40, I saw my Mother for about 5 days and spoke to her on only 2 or 3 occasions, and one of those times was not a nice call. That is 5 days, and 2 phone calls in twenty-five years!
Fortunately for me, when I stumbled upon the process of true forgiveness at around the age of 41, I was able to make amends with my beloved Mother. In fact looking back, I was blessed with really unfortunate circumstances that gave me the opportunity to go home and live near her for 3 months and then with her for 4 months.
Yes, something truly life-changing and wonderful revealed itself in the grey midst of severe adversity.
Did I deeply regret the time I had not spent with her for all those years? Did I regret never picking up the phone? Did I resent myself for not telling her I had moved to the other side of the world? Did I feel her pain that one of her children, who she cared deeply for and worried over, never bothered to speak to her? Was I racked with guilt when she called me one evening and I callously told her never to call me or speak to me ever again?
Yes for all of them. It was excruciatingly painful. For a while.
I then applied the law of forgiveness, as I call it, to myself. And I was able to move forward into acceptance a lot easier.
But be rest assured, if I had not made peace with my Mother and then found that forgiveness afterwards, can you imagine how much self bargaining, filled with deep regret, I would have gone through?
This would have surely prolonged my ability to forgive myself too. I would not have reached the 5th stage of grief, acceptance for many a year.
I had already gone through that painfully emotional trauma once with the untimely passing of my beautiful sister.
Now you could say, I had every ‘right’ not to speak to my Mother. And you may be using self-justification too as to why you shouldn’t speak to your parents. We all do that.
Maybe it was their fault. Maybe they did say or do something nasty to you. Maybe their words did highly offend you or your family. But come on…time passes by. You cannot claw this missed time back.
But let me say this. It is only your pride that is causing you to grip tightly to your resentment. Let it go. Forgive them. Make amends. Pick up the phone. Write a letter, send an email. If you can’t say I love you, just say hi.
If you don’t want to do it for them, do it for you. There is so much wisdom to be learnt from great people in the past. They all said to forgive others. Not for their sake per se, but for yours.
You may well think you are being strong by not forgiving. But let me assure you, you are not. Not forgiving is the easiest route. It is easier not to forgive. Not to speak, not to pick up the phone. Not to write the letter, the email and so forth.
Forgiveness really is the path to true happiness. You may glide along thinking that all is well. But this pain can still be there in a dark but active corner of your unconscious mind, revealing itself in other ways and in other areas of your life.
“Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong. The weak can never forgive” Gandhi
I hope one day, if this applies to you, that you can find the strength and courage to make amends. Go write that email or letter. Just let them know everything is fine with you. The first step is the hardest I know, but it can be done. Be brave. Be more courageous than you have ever been before.
I promise you, you won’t regret it.
NB If you have been affected by the loss of a loved one and would like to know more about the 5 stages of grief and the Kubler Ross Model you can do so below in wikipedia.