August 07, 2015
After holding our mock funeral last week, I was still feeling the remnants of that painful afternoon as I was preparing for Spiritual Friday. I could only imagine how our patients and family members were feeling. I was so deeply moved by the tremendous amount of guilt, shame, and unforgivingness of self our patients felt; there was so much shame around not being “present” and conscious at the deaths of their loved ones. So, I thought a good topic for Friday would be self-forgiveness.
I started by sharing my experience conducting the service and what it felt like to hear all of them share their pain, shame, and sadness. We spoke of the idea that love never dies and that the love they grieve lives on within them should they choose to be a loving presence in the world instead of an angry, shameful presence.
We turned the lights down and lit several memorial candles as I played this beautiful song:
“Punishing yourself for your mistakes is not the way to end them. Loving yourself is.” -Anonymous
One of the patients read this from the Narcotics Anonymous’ Just For Today:
“It’s not where we were that counts, but where we are going…
Though it may be difficult to let go of memories each day in recovery cab bring us that much farther away from our active addiction. Each day we can find more to look forward to and less to punish ourselves for…”
Before we split up into groups, I opened the discussion to anyone who had anything to say:
- One patient shared his deep gratitude for the cards and visits he received while he was in the hospital, “I never mattered to anyone before… it felt so good.”
- Another patient shared how she couldn’t have gotten through her mother’s death without her new family at Caron Renaissance.
- A new patient, who was on day 4, thanked all those who have helped him feel welcome.
- Another was grateful for an angel card that was given to him because it comforted his grief.
I ended our large group with a “popcorn” gratitude prayer where everyone randomly shouted out what they are grateful for. Answers included: Nature, feeling my brother’s spirit, AA, family, hope, Spiritual Fridays, freedom, and dogs., It was all so nice that I believe this is going to be a new Spiritual Friday ritual.
In small groups, there was a lot of discussion about how to forgive yourself and sharing seemed like a tool everyone could use. A couple of the groups went around answering, “What do you need to forgive yourself for?”
If I have harmed anyone in any way either
knowingly or unknowingly through my own confusions,
I ask their forgiveness.
If anyone has harmed me in any way either
knowingly or unknowingly through they own confusions,
I forgive them.
And if there is a situation I am not yet
ready to forgive,
I forgive myself for that.
For all the ways, that I harm myself, negate, doubt,
belittle myself, judge or be unkind to
myself through my own confusions,
I forgive myself.
Each of the patients got a copy of the above prayer as a tool to use.
Have a beautiful week.
Reverend Laurie Durgan