Dr. Fred Luskin talks with Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley about forgiveness, and how necessary it is for healing. Depending on the circumstances surrounding a death, forgiveness can seem impossible at first (such as in the case of a murder). However, it’s important to note that forgiveness does not require two people. You don’t need to tell the person you’ve forgiven them—that’s reconciliation. Dr. Luskin lost his daughter in a car crash, and his wife died several years ago. He specializes in forgiveness, and says it’s key to healing from your grief.

“Forgiveness seems to be a place where people get stuck,” says Dr. Gloria Horsley. People get angry at the person who was drinking and driving (killing their loved one), doctors, hospice care, and more. It can fester, and it’s common for people to still talk about people who wronged them decades later. Dr. Luskin says that once he explains what his idea of forgiveness is, he’s told “I don’t like the name for that.” It’s easy to blame and hold on tight to pain.

The Power of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a way of acknowledging that really painful things happen, but then you move on. “You have to forgive when you die, because it all goes away anyway!” says Dr. Luskin. However, know that different offenses require more time depending on what’s been done. For example, if someone cuts you off, you might be angry for ten seconds. If you get fired, you might be angry for ten days. However, brains are wired so that if you repeat the same thoughts/feelings about how terrible it is, it creates pathways you can’t escape.

You become a prisoner of your own negativity, he explains. It ends up hurting only you, which is a pointless effort.

Fred Luskin

Dr. Fred Luskin holds a Ph.D. in Counseling and Health Psychology from Stanford University. He is the Co-Director of the Stanford-Northern Ireland HOPE Project, an ongoing series of workshops and research projects that investigate the effectiveness of his forgiveness methods on the victims of political violence. He served as the Director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, the largest research project to date on the training and measurement of a forgiveness intervention. He currently works as a Senior Fellow at the Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation. Dr. Luskin presents lectures, workshops, seminars and trainings throughout the United States on the importance, health benefits and training of forgiveness. He offers classes and presentations that range from one hour to five weeks. Dr Luskin is on the Board of Directors of the Open to Hope Foundation. He is the bereaved parent of Anna, 20. Dr. Luskin appeared on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart to discuss Loss, Forgiveness, and the Military. To hear his interview with Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley, go to the following link: https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/36356/hope-and-healing-after-loss

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