Could you forgive someone for harming your child?

It’s a hard question to ask, but could you forgive someone who harmed your child? This past weekend, an horrific act of violence occurred in Brisbane’s inner north – a man brutally killed his partner, before taking his own life. When asked about the tragedy, the victim Mayang Prasetyo’s mother told the Australian media that while she was struggling to comprehend that Marcus Volke could kill her eldest child, she had forgiven him. She said, “My message for Marcus’s family is: let’s forgive each other. Please forgive [Mayang] if (s)he did things that anger Marcus or his family. I forgave Marcus for whatever he has done to [Mayang]”. Is this a great act of forgiveness or is this mother just in shock, masking her true feelings? Or is it completely unrealistic and callous to forgive someone so quickly for something like this? Surely she would be absolutely mortified to think of her daughter’s last moments?

This raises so many questions: how could someone ever truly forgive in this situation? How could you sound so nonchalant about such a criminal act? This mother is not the first parent to extend their forgiveness to the killers of their children – there have been plenty, even this year. While forgiveness is always welcomed and accepted in our society, it just seems unbelievable that someone could feel no anger or hatred against a murderer of their son or daughter.

Could it be a compassion for mental illness and the acceptance that we make mistakes? In the case of Marcus Volke, he led a double life and no one knew the real him and, as he is now dead, no one will ever know what caused him to do such unspeakable things to someone he was supposed to love and care for. A deliberate case of murder seems a lot less likely to be forgiven, but on the contrary, there are some who hold life-long hostility towards those who have killed their family member or friend accidentally. In order to move on from the unexpected loss of a loved one, forgiveness is a great tool, and a Harvard study found that being more forgiving is linked to better heart health, and some might say so what? It isn’t going to bring your child back. And perhaps that is the mentality of these almost Biblical forgivers – your child isn’t coming back so you may as well extend the olive branch.

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It’s a very sensitive topic and we understand that it may bring up some painful memories, but would you forgive someone for hurting your child, however mild or extreme it is? Or would you force yourself to forgive and heal so you could move on? What are your thoughts on what Mayang Prasetyo’s mother said? Tell us below.