Forgiving Someone Without Closure Or An Apology Is Tough, But Possible

Moving on from a relationship or friendship that's come to an end is difficult. It can be even harder to move on when there is no closure or apology from the person who has hurt you. An apology is important because it shows that someone takes accountability for what happened and expresses a genuine sense of remorse for how they made you feel. Without an apology or sense of closure, is it really possible to forgive someone?

If you need to have closure before forgiving someone and letting go of a grudge, you could be holding on to anger, resentment, and hurt while waiting for an apology that never comes. Sometimes, you can forgive without coming to any resolution. According to a PubMed study in 2004, patients who received forgiveness therapy experienced fewer feelings of anxiety, anger, and depression. Forgiveness isn't always an act of reconciliation and is instead the action of letting go of the hurt and anger that you feel for your own well-being.

Let go of living in the past

To genuinely forgive and forget, you first need to become fully present in the moment. When you're holding onto past grievances and situations, you're keeping yourself stuck living in the past. Reliving the past will leave you feeling stuck in a place of resentment and hurt and unable to move on to a brighter future. Rather than thinking about how the other person has hurt you, sit with your emotions and let yourself feel them. Acknowledge the emotions and feelings when you're ready to face them and sit with them (via Psych Central).

Self-reflect on your emotions and ask yourself whether you fall into the trap of feeling slighted. When you let go of seeing yourself as a victim, you can finally take back control of your life and feelings. Take accountability if you feel you played a role in how your friendship or relationship ended, and forgive yourself.

Forgiveness takes time

You can't force forgiveness. Only when you're truly ready to forgive someone by accepting the situation and your feelings, can you experience the joys that come from moving on. There are two types of forgiveness: decisional and emotional forgiveness, according to Greatist. Decisional forgiveness is when you make an active decision to feel positively towards someone and to forgive them. You may still harbor hurt and anger, but you force yourself to feel positively towards them when you can.

Emotional forgiveness is the act of genuinely replacing those negative feelings with empathy, understanding, and love. A study in 2019 found that participants who were able to emotionally forgive someone were able to hold that person less responsible for their actions and experienced more cognitive benefits than those who practiced decisional forgiveness. 

Don't get down on yourself if it's taking longer to forgive someone than you had hoped. Genuine forgiveness takes time and patience and eventually, you'll be ready to move on.