Tips for Making Amends Before You Pass Away
For many people, preparing to depart from this world is a time to tie up loose ends and repair damaged relationships. When considering your own impending death, you may decide you wish to say your goodbyes and put your affairs in order before it becomes too late. Part of performing both of these tasks is to make amends with people you feel you may have harmed. In some cases, you may be engaged in a mutually unresolved conflict. You may decide to enjoy the time you have left relishing in the relationships you have cultivated over the years rather than stewing in resentments and regrets. However, if you feel you will regret making no attempts to repair damaged relationships, you should take the steps to make amends. If you are hesitant to make amends with people in your life because you are not sure how to do so, the following tips will help. Making amends using these methods may steer you along the path to reconnecting with old friends and loved ones and repairing any damage left over from past incidents.
Making amends with others starts with humility, and humility starts with recognizing you have done someone wrong. The other person may have done you wrong as well, but that is not your responsibility, it is the other person’s. You are only responsible for your own behavior and all you can do to bridge the gap between you and an alienated friend or loved one is to take on that responsibility openly, sincerely and humbly. The other person may or may not apologize in kind for his or her part in the division. You have to be okay with either possibility. Remember, you are not making amends to get another person to do something in return. You are doing it to feel resolved within yourself as you finish out your life. Apologize with no conditions or expectations of reaction or return. Even if you do not get the result you had hoped for, you still reap the inner benefits of doing your best to clean up your past affairs.
This tip may seem contrary to the previous tip because it seeks to elicit a response from another person. However, forgiveness does not need to come from the same person to whom you may have caused pain. If forgiveness does come from the same person to whom you are apologizing, that is ideal. If it does not come from that source, seek out a different source who will be more forgiving. You have presumably already apologized to the person directly with who you wished to make amends. If you did not receive a forgiving reaction, you have every right to be forgiven, and there are plenty of people who will do that for you. Seek out a clergy member, like a priest or a minister. If you are not a religious person, ask a counselor, therapist or psychiatrist to help you find forgiveness within yourself. Alternatively, ask a friend or family member to hear your story and offer you forgiveness on behalf of the individual who would not offer it directly. Sometimes, all it takes is another person telling us we are worthy of forgiveness to feel suitably forgiven.
Release Shame, Guilt and Self-Blame
Once you apologize and seek forgiveness, you must be willing to let the issue go. If you cling to your own shame, guilt or self-blame over the issue after you have apologized, you are only punishing yourself. The entire purpose of going through this process is to leave you unburdened before you depart this life. Punishing yourself when you have already done all you can to make amends is merely masochistic and selfish. You may still be clinging to these negative feelings because you are unwilling to forgive yourself for your actions. At this point, you must make amends with your past self, reconciling that person’s actions with the person you are today. All people make mistakes when they are young and you are no different. Recognize your innate humanity and give yourself the same leeway to learn and feel good about yourself as any person making genuine amends to you. Sometimes it helps to look at yourself in the mirror as you offer yourself forgiveness and release the burdens of shame, guilt and self-blame weighing you down. Treat yourself with compassion and let yourself see compassion reflected back at you in your own eyes. Honor the inner child in you who always has the freedom to make mistakes as long as he or she learns from them. That is all you can ask of anyone else, and it is all you can expect of yourself.
Sometimes, it may take a bit more to achieve the sense of release that should come from making amends. When seeking forgiveness and releasing your own does not seem to be enough, consider giving your time and energy to other people to help you feel better. Volunteer for your local community in any way you can. Partaking in the service of others is a powerful way to transform regret into a positive and lasting action that improves the lives of other people.