259 Family Advice, Part 2: Grief and Forgiveness

We’re back this week to answer our next two listener questions regarding family advice: one about dealing with the death of a loved one who passed before they could grow beyond their bigotry, and the second about practicing restorative justice with someone who just can’t seem to change.

In This Episode

Joke

Why is it hard to get a second date with a panda?

Referenced in this episode

Main Topic

We tackle some poignant and complicated questions this week, generating a really good conversation. One about grief, one about forgiveness, but both tying into something larger and more complex:

First Question

Submitted by Krista (she/they)

In the episode about the Joker film, you talked a lot about creating boundaries with family members. I’ve recently come out as queer and it’s caused me to make some harsh boundaries with my middle sister who is very homophobic and racist. We are currently not on speaking terms. Though I know this is right and better for my health, the guilt plagues me as I’ve always been a giving person.

With that context in mind, the advice I want to ask is about my dad. My father died in 2016. My mom, dad, and middle sister were always racist and homophobic. The small-town type who could grow but aren’t forced to. Growing up knowing about their fear kept me in the closet for a long time. Now that I’m out, my youngest sister has been so wonderfully supportive, my mom has come around and reacted better than I could have hoped for, my middle sister I am not talking to anymore and my dad is deceased. It hurts knowing that I’m growing exponentially and my dad is forever stuck in 2016. I don’t know if he would be accepting of me. It’s hard to navigate coming out not knowing if he’d come around. It’s easy to assume he wouldn’t be and that causes me to feel so distant from him. And even if he were accepting, there are many things that he used to do that would now really bother me. It’s hard feeling like I’ve outgrown my dad.

How do I come to terms with this and still maintain a level of connectedness and love for my dad?

Second Question

Submitted by Anonymous (she/her)

Hey Callie and Nichole! I was wondering if maybe you could talk about/do an episode about the whole idea of restorative justice and forgiveness and all that. I’ve been struggling with an emotionally abusive family member for a long time and they keep on doing really hurtful shit to me, but every time they apologize I “forgive” them and nothing changes. Recently, something happened and I kinda put my foot down and was like, “I’m not taking this bullshit anymore.” But now, it’s looking like that person is going to apologize again and I’m struggling with what to do. I do believe in the idea of restorative justice and I have seen it work in another one of my relationships, but I just don’t feel like this family member has any desire to change. I just wanted to hear your thoughts on what restorative justice means and what you all think about forgiveness.

Quick update… I did end up having a long conversation with this family member and they basically said that the harm they’ve done to me emotionally was completely unintentional and that they really want our relationship to work and for us to be on good terms. I do see a desire in that person to change, but we have had this conversation before and I’ve seen certain problematic behaviors repeat and I’m just very cautious of getting hurt again. I feel like I have seen some changes, but then again, they could be temporary. I’m just very wary of letting this person back in completely, but it does look like they’re trying to change. 

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