Clearing Up Past Hurts, Does it Take Dying to Make Amends?

Every family has their own dysfunction. I have yet to meet the family, including my own, which doesn’t have issues amongst the group from time to time. Some things are minor, and some are taken to the extreme. Sometimes, for good reason, sometimes for bizarre reasons, and sometimes for reasons no one really remembers anymore. You would think upon hearing that a family member was dying that all would be forgotten and forgiven, but this is real life. When someone is dying it doesn’t automatically make them into a good person. Nasty, mean people die too. But, sometimes, when a person is facing death, the reasons for a grudge, or the pain you may have caused someone, or they you, starts to blur just a little. And something about getting a real glimpse of that frail inner person, whether it be in the mirror, over the phone, or face to face, becomes the spark to healing an injustice that may otherwise never have healed. And by no means is it meant that dying is a free pass out of past hurts. Dying really is the reconciliation of last resort, for those who seek it. Those seeking reconciliation may be the dying or the living. Speaking as a hospice nurse who sees the death of relationships every day, if there is a conflict or burden, the sooner you address it the better. I’ve seen both sides. The daughter who refused to be at her dad’s deathbed because she could not forgive his alcoholism’s effect on her childhood, yet still suffers because she did not confront him face to face and lost the opportunity to hear ‘I’m sorry’ or say ‘I forgive’, or ‘I don’t forgive you’. The mother whose estranged son she could never track down before she died , estranged because she had kicked him out of the house at sixteen, tired of the drugs and alcohol. Unresolved issues do make it harder for the dying person to let go at the end, just as unresolved issues take their control on the living eventually as well. So if it is your dying family member’s wish to make amends, please do what you can to make it happen, give them peace at their time to let go, and hopefully you may find peace for yourself as well.

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