To find healing, I needed to come to a place where I forgave everything, including me. Today, I have no regrets, but it has been an arduous journey to find freedom and healing, to live in forgiveness.

Benjamin Find FreedomForgiveness, especially self-forgiveness, was a perilous path in my Afterloss, but if I was to find peace, I had to go into my deepest regrets and forgive. To heal I had to let go of those things that separated me from love. It was only through the pathway of forgiveness that I was able to embrace the softness of my sorrow rather than the razor’s edge of my pain.

I don’t hear a lot of discussion about regrets, but others I know who live in loss, and certainly in my case, have moments when they wish they had done differently. There are no ‘do overs’ in life. There are ‘do agains’ in a different way, but what is done is done.

It is easier for my to forgive another than it is for me to forgive myself. Anger and resentment separate me. They pushed the world away and created a protective layer. Like a mote around a castle I tried to protect myself from an even greater onslaught of pain and hurt. I discovered the hurt was coming from inside the mote and walls I built. My protective layer was a prison, not castle.

A do over that cannot be undone was in Bryan’s last months I held him close, but I wish I could have held him closer. We only at three months with Bryan after received the call from the blood bank asking us all to be tested for HIV. He was already very sick and now we knew why and that he was to die. Matt had been sick all the three years of his life and Lydia had been sick since his birth. And now we knew why and that they, too, were to die.

The birth of Matt brought me into a place where I had no protective layers. We loved unconditionally. From the moment I first held him to this moment I had no protective layers to shield me.

As I held Bryan, I held him as close as I could. But my deepest regret is I couldn’t hold him like I held Matt. When Matt was eight days old he had major surgery and the chances of his survival were tenuous at best. When he made it through the surgery I dance all day and sang, “We get to keep him!” I just didn’t know then what I knew when I held Bryan.

Bryan gave me so much. I wish I could have given Bryan more. There was this piece of me, part of the DNA of my pain that didn’t fit the same way as it did with Matt. I was there physically completely, but when I held him there was a part of me that held back.

When Bryan died, and I was holding his body as it grew cold, I felt his expansive presence holding me. His tenderness touched that deep wound that I held in my holding back. I loved him dearly in life, but in death he held me in such a way I’ll be forever grateful. That part of me that went with him was the layer that separated us. I was touched by love and forgiveness. He understood and we shared the healing of understanding.

Bryan was a precious guide into the Afterlife and the healing nature of the Afterloss. He waited for me. He loved me within my frailties, beyond my frailties. Forgiveness heals.

Benjamin Best I canWhat I was left with was the need for self-forgiveness. As I have shared in the past the definition of hell that works for me is that it is a place of being unconditionally loved but I am rejecting that love. My hell was self-imposed. I was able to accept Bryan’s love, but could not find away to love me unconditionally.

To fully touch the divine I have to embrace my humanness. I did the best I could do, loved the most I could love and leaned into our time as much as I could lean. It was not enough, but I have come to a place that it is enough.

It took a lot of work to forgive myself. I still hold the scar where the wound has healed. I no longer live in a self-imposed hell.

Benjamin Uncomfortable with PainA big piece of the unfolding of self-forgiveness has to do with my evolving understanding of perfection. I have reflected many a step in my Afterloss with the question of what is perfection? What ideal did I not attain in that particular moment that leaves me in emotional self-mutilation? Why do I want to hold this hurt simply to hurt more with this than the hurt of loss itself?

For today, I’ve come to the conclusion that nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.

In one sense, perfection is an unattainable illusion. What does perfect look like? It’s an ideal never to be met. It’s a measurement that constantly tells me I don’t measure up. It’s somebody else opinion. It’s a societal standard made by some emperor with no clothes, handed down generation after generation and nobody knows why, and most don’t even question why.

In another sense, what I have come to see is a different kind of perfection. My perfection is in accepting my imperfection. The ideal human is the one who accepts their humanness. Each moment I live the best I can. I have a lot of room for other humans because I believe we’re all doing the best we can.

My forgiveness of others and my self-forgiveness comes from this – unconditional love is unconditional. Unconditional love is absolute freedom and ultimate healing.

When I accepted self-forgiveness in the protective layers I created, peace came. I hold Bryan’s love in unconditional love. I no longer regret the past. I am no longer a hostage to my hurt. I am now able to be a healer in my hurt. I am able to miss him today, hurt today and live today in the fullness of this day. All because unconditional love is truly unconditional.


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