Forgiving my brother’s killer

My brother was killed in an accident when he was 10. Now the friend responsible wants my forgiveness. 

Only you can decide when the time is right, says our elder.


Dear EWC

I’m 15 and seven years ago, my brother was killed by one of his best friends. My brother was only 10 at the time and I was eight. We were really close and hardly ever fought; he was also very protective of me like any big brother. The day my brother was killed, he went to his friend’s house while the boy’s parents were out and they went into the parent’s room and started playing with a loaded gun that belonged to the boy’s father and my brother ended up getting shot and died instantly. I was so devastated and for years I hated his friend even though my parents forgave him knowing it was an accident. It’s strange being older than my big brother and it sucks not having him around. My brother’s friend recently came back to town and has been trying to contact me of all people and apologize but I don’t know if I can forgive him or not. I want to but it’s hard. How do I forgive him? How do I gather the courage to even look at him and speak to him?


Dot replies

First let me say that I am so sorry for the loss of your brother. I can’t begin to imagine what that felt like, especially since you were only eight years old. What a tragedy it was. I’m sure there isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t miss your brother. 

Forgiveness is a powerful step. One that you need to decide for yourself if you are ready for. There is no right or wrong time. Your time is the right time. I just wanted to share a few things about forgiveness. Remember it doesn’t erase the past, but looks at it with compassion. When you withhold forgiveness it keeps alive feelings of hurt, anger and blame which will affect the rest of your life. Sometimes I think it’s normal to feel if we let go of those feelings, we’re not honoring the person we lost. It’s a way to hang on to that person…to keep them alive. It gives us a feeling of control in a situation where we are totally helpless. Scarlett, I have had many experiences in life dealing with forgiveness. Those times are the hardest I’ve experienced in my 68 years, so I will not diminish how difficult this has to be for you. I hope that you have had professional counseling to deal with the tragedy of losing your brother. You are so young to process all the feelings that you must have had… and still do. Wanting to punish someone for their wrongdoing is normal. I know that you know it was an accident. That situation actually could have been reversed. I know you would want to help your brother if it was. I’m looking at it through the eyes of a grandma. I have a 10-year-old grandson. I see how his mind works and doesn’t always see the consequences of his actions. I pray that he would never put himself in a situation that he could never forgive himself for, let alone have others struggle to forgive him. 

If you decide to give this young man a chance to talk with you, remember that you don’t need to agree to have him in your life in any way if you do forgive him. Just facing him may help you more than it helps him. You may be surprised. Maybe you can talk about your brother together and share memories. If he was his best friend, he probably knew him better than anyone other than your family. It will be painful, but in the end if you can forgive, you heal. When you let go, you grow. You deserve peace in your life. Nothing can change the past, but being able to let go will let you look to the future. I know your brother would want you to go on to live a happy, emotionally healthy life. Your brother will always live in your heart. Nothing will change that. Please talk with your parents. Maybe they can help you make this difficult decision. Know that I will be thinking about you and hoping that you can find the peace you so deserve. Please feel free to write back to Elder Wisdom Circle anytime. We are always here to listen. 

Article #: 474728

Category: Other

One Comment

  1. My brother was an EMT on a call on the side of a highway when a car wanted to pass so he sped up resulting in colliding with the ambulance my brother was working out of, killing him instantly. The man who drove w recklessly that results in 3 deaths did not receive any type of legal punishment for this. No probation. No jail time. No retribution for his crime.
    It has take me 17 years to come to a place where I forgive him. He was 21 and driving stupid. I have been driving stupid as a 21 year old as well. If he had gone to jail it would be like losing another person. Forgiveness is a journey, a really hard journey. The pain of the loss never gets better so it’s a constant battle. But life is for the living. Life is meant for moving forward. Our loved ones wouldn’t want us to stay in grief forever. The only thing we do is let them live thru us bu spreading the joy they did.
    I’m so sorry for this horrible loss. I really do understand how life changing it is and how scary and sad it is. I’m so sorry. You can overcome this.

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