DEAR HARRIETTE: My father died nearly 20 years ago, and I am only now dealing with the grief that I had bottled up over the years. I realize that I was angry with him for many years for things that happened when I was a child. Now that I am a parent myself, I see that he was doing the best he could. There are things that he messed up on, but when I look back on it, I think that he did way more good than bad. How can I forgive myself for not appreciating my father more when he was alive? I feel horrible. -- Needing Forgiveness
DEAR NEEDING FORGIVENESS: Grief is fascinating; it can rise up many years after a loved one’s passing. It can feel raw and real, even more so than the early days. The good news is that you are able to see your father more compassionately and with greater perspective of what it means to be a parent and a provider. When you were younger, you did not have the skill set or understanding that you have today. You can forgive yourself for whatever naivete you had back then and for not having the capacity for compassion at the time. You can also forgive him for whatever he did that left you wanting.
You may want to see a therapist to help you explore your past and wrestle out of any emotional stranglehold that is trapping you. It may have taken all this time for you to be ready for a breakthrough.