Avi did not feel his father deserved forgiveness. Byock explains "It is wrong to think that people need to feel forgiveness in order to give forgiveness. Forgiveness is actually about emotional economics. It's about a one-time cost that you pay to clear up years of compounded emotional pain. ... Even if his father didn't deserve forgiveness, Avi did. His father was going to die. Avi was the one who would carry the animosity and resentment in the years to come. He had carried them long enough."
After Avi forgave his father, he also found that he was more forgiving towards his wife and children. "Without knowing it, Avi had been perpetuating many of the traits - such as being quick to judge, overly critical and rigid in his ways - that he despised in Simon." It's so easy to repeat our parents' behavior with our own children, even when we've sworn we'd never treat our children that way.
Byock points out "Righteous indignation can be seductive, and even addictive, but unresolved anger is toxic to your happiness and your relationships." Anything toxic to both our happiness and our relationships is worth the effort to remove!
Your Relationship with Your Parents and Your Children
The relationship we have with our parents influences the relationship we have with our children. Even if our parents have died, they continue to strongly influence our lives.
Mike & The Mechanics' song "In the Living Years" captures it well:
"I know that I'm a prisoner to all my father held so dear
I know that I'm a hostage to all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years"
You do not have to wait until someone is dying to say the four things. Expressing love, gratitude and forgiveness can be woven into your daily life.
Saying these four things to those who are most precious to you will strengthen your relationships with them. Try doing it today!