Things We Love: The Forgiveness Letter

From: Writing as Healing from the Amends Project

Forgiveness is a process. It begins with the willingness to let go of the resentment — releasing the old ideas about a relationship, a person, or unfulfilled expectations you had about a situation or experience.

Whatever you are releasing, Willingness is the first step in being able to authentically forgive. True forgiveness occurs when we choose to trade in the short-term payoff we receive from our judgements, blame, and guilt, for the longer term payoff of freedom, peace of mind, and even joy.

Some components of an authentic forgiveness letter are compassion, personal responsibiility, humility, and grace.

Write your letter now! Include your true feelings and keep re-writing the letter until it reads and feels that you have let go.


1st Draft

Dear Dad,
For my entire childhood, I always wanted a close relationship with you, and you never gave me the chance. Your drinking, violent rages, and emotional distance made growing up in our home a terrifying experience. I wanted you to praise me for my accomplishments, but nothing ever seemed good enough for you. You always compared me to my brother, and pitted us against each other.

Your behavior made you so emotionally unavailable to me, I never learned what it was like to be loved by a man. Now, I have paid for this with an ugly divorce and multiple failed relationships. I am tired of carrying around the legacy of your unhappiness, and I am ready to release it now.

I want to forgive you for all you have done. No matter what, you are still my father. I guess the reason I was so hurt is because of how much I truly love you.


Final Letter

Dear Dad,
I am writing this letter to let you know how much I love you and how much I want to have a closer relationship to you. It was not easy living in our house when I was growing up, and I held a lot of things against you. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for you to raise us on your own after Mom died. John and I were probably not always easy to deal with, and now as a single parent, I really understand how hard your struggles must have been.

I know that in spite of all of the pain and hardship, you usually tried your best. It wasn’t easy. Drinking and stress took a painful toll on you that I can only imagine. I am so grateful you have quit drinking, and hope you will continue your recovery.

I want you to know that I forgive you for any of the mistakes you made in the past, and that I do not expect you to be perfect in the future. You know more now, and as I watch you grow, I know you are a better person as you learn from your mistakes.

I love you so much, Daddy, and only want our relationship to grow. Please also forgive me for any mistakes I have made.

Your loving daughter,

Posted in Relationships, Family & Community, Stress Management, Things We Love.