Forgiveness means giving up the need to punish or get even with someone, no longer blaming them, or holding something against them, pardoning or excusing them for something that was done. It doesn't happen overnight - it is a process that takes time. I have worked very hard on not blaming myself for Eddie's death. I've tried to get away from the why and what if questions. I don't feel as guilty now as I did in the beginning. But have I forgiven myself for things I did or didn't do, things I did or didn't say? ... I'm not sure. Have I forgiven Eddie for what he did? ... definitely not. That's something I still have to work on, and the first step is recognizing what I need to forgive him for. Obviously I have to try to forgive him for taking his own life. But there's much more to it than that. Forgiving him for committing suicide means forgiving him for giving up on his fight with alcoholism, forgiving him for taking away my chance to help him, forgiving him for not giving me a chance to say goodbye, forgiving him for not giving me a say in the end, forgiving him for leaving Trey without a father and Emily without a grandfather, and forgiving him for permanently changing who I am.
Suicide was a choice Eddie made about his own life, but it affected me, Trey, the rest of his family, and everyone who knew him. His death will forever be a part of who I am. I will never be the same person I was before his death. Sadness and regret will always be a part of my memories of him (but hopefully with time happiness will also become a part of those memories). Forgiving him means resigning myself to the fact that I wasn't able to help him and accepting that I cannot change the way things are now. Forgiveness also means giving up on trying to understand why he took his own life. But I know this is necessary because I can't move on with my life as long as I'm still searching for answers that don't exist.
I don't know if total forgiveness will ever be possible. I'm sure I will continue trying to forgive in some form for the rest of my life. But I cannot allow Eddie's death to define my life and who I am. It has been a struggle not to let myself become bitter, not to let my beliefs be changed, and to allow myself to begin to heal. I've had to walk away from my own guilt and from the shame associated with suicide in order to give myself a chance to go on with my life. I've also had to realize that forgiving doesn't mean forgetting. I will always remember Eddie, and hopefully in time I will remember more of the good and less of the bad. An important thing to know is that forgiveness does more for the one who is forgiving than it does for the one who is being forgiven.
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13
"And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Mark 11:25