The shock and searing reality of sudden tragic loss tears the heart open and leaves us raw and reeling. All loss is heartbreaking, but some losses are unfathomable to the heart – the loss of a loved one to suicide, to murder, to the horrors of violence or combat, to sudden overdose, and countless other tragedies. You are left broken open, humbled and helpless in the face of the anguish and the aftermath. The suffering is great.

Traumatic injury occurs when you are overwhelmed from an event, series of events, or enduring circumstances that exceed your ability to cope and threaten your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual well being. Healing through that injury has its own unfolding, its own pace. Grieving too, is a unique journey of each heart with the echoes of your loved one deep within.

A depth of care and compassion, from others or from within, may begin to meet the magnitude of the suffering. The possibility of grieving and healing dawns through the loss, and invites us forward to transform the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual traces. With a perspective that comes with time, the love and life shared with your loved one may emerge far greater than how they died.

The time may come when it becomes too painful for the heart to remain closed or angry or armored. The possibility of forgiveness may begin to arise. The veils of pain and fear and confusion may begin to part allowing for an easing, a softening of the heart toward your loved one, and yourself.

  • In Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness, Frederic Luskin Ph.D. prepares the foundation for forgiveness with a guided meditation. "Remember people or things in your life you are grateful for. Savor the gratefulness throughout your body. Remember moments of kindness in your life, when people have been kind to you, then when you have been kind to others. Savor the feeling of kindness throughout your body. Remember a moment of feeling loved and cherished by someone, then remember a moment of you loving and cherishing someone, even a beloved pet. Savor the feeling of love throughout your body. Let yourself claim the goodness of your own self now. Let that open into a sense of the goodness of humanity. This is the place within that forgiveness comes from. States of kindness, compassion, good will. From here it becomes possible to forgive."
  • In The Art of Forgiveness, Loving Kindness and Peace, Jack Kornfield offers a guided Forgiveness Meditation, then invites us to, "Gently repeat the directions for forgiveness until you feel a release in your heart. For some great pains you may not feel a release; instead, you may experience again the burden and the anguish or anger you have held. Touch this softly. Be forgiving of yourself for not being ready to let go and move on. Forgiveness cannot be forced; it cannot be artificial. Simply continue the practice and let the words and the images work gradually in their own way. In time you can make the forgiveness meditation a regular part of your life, letting go of the past and opening your heart to each new moment with a wise loving kindness."
  • View a handout of Forgiveness Practices:

We invite you to continue your healing journey, with mindfulness and compassion, toward an emerging acceptance, forgiveness, and wholeness in your life. A journey that may reveal a love not bound by time or space or change.


Marilynne Chöphel MFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has offered depth psychotherapy since 1990 and specializes in the treatment of trauma with mindfulness, somatic awareness, and compassionate presence. She is a Certified Advanced Practitioner of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy for treatment of acute and developmental trauma, and has assisted their trainings for several years. She brings to her work a foundation in mindfulness meditation and yoga, both of which she taught for more than twenty-five years, as well as relationship workshops. She is co-author of Unfinished Conversation: Healing from Suicide and Loss – A Guided Journey.
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