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How to Write a Letter of Forgiveness

by Candice Coleman

Most relationships in your life will involve a degree of conflict -- but while some conflicts may be quickly forgotten, others may leave you deciding if or when to forgive the other person. Penning a forgiveness letter could help you mend a rift in the relationship, as well as enable you to let go of the pain and anger surrounding such a conflict.

Figuring Out Intentions

Thinking objectively about the start of the conflict, as well as what you hope to gain from writing a letter, can help you pen a sincere letter of forgiveness, according to the PBS article "How to Forgive." If the intention of the letter is to get the offending party to feel guilty or apologize, or if you see the letter as anything other than honest forgiveness, it may be time to re-evaluate your intentions before forgiving someone, according to Dr. Alex Lickerman in the Psychology Today article "How to Forgive Others." If you feel that the original conflict is no longer worth the rift, or if you simply hope to forgive and forget for the sake of moving on, you may be ready to pen your forgiveness letter. These letters can be used to acknowledge a variety of situations, from a friend missing an important event in your life to long-lasting rifts over lifestyle choices, according to the Hallmark article "How to Say You're Sorry."

Drafting the Letter

Create a rough draft for your forgiveness letter. You may want to include a description of what happened, how the experience made you feel and what could have been done differently, according to PBS. This is also an opportunity to step into the other person's shoes -- you may find that the disagreement started from a difference in perspective, and not because the other person wanted to bring intentional harm. Including a statement indicating that you have forgiven the other person can give both of you the opportunity to begin healing your relationship. Rereading your letter, making revisions, and asking another family member or friend to read it can help you determine if the tone of your letter comes off as sincere or hurtful.

Sample Letter

A forgiveness letter might read, "I was hurt when you said that you would come to the party, but you never came. It made me feel that you didn't care or respect me enough to call before the party. I now realize that this is not worth losing our friendship. I miss having you in my life and hope that we can forget what happened," according to Hallmark. Putting the emphasis on moving forward, rather than on blaming the person who wronged you, can go a long way in repairing any rifts.

Consider Your Role

A forgiveness letter does not have to be sent; you may find that writing out your feelings calms any anger or anxiety you feel about the situation, according to PBS. You also do not have to wait for someone to apologize before you write a letter of forgiveness, according to Lickerman. In writing your letter, you might also think about your role in the conflict: if you were also guilty of wrongdoing, including an apology in your letter of forgiveness, such as, "I'm sorry that I said something so cruel to you," or "I regret treating you poorly," can help mend the relationship.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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