The Hardest Act to Forgive, and Yet Forgiven

Sep 24 , 2022
By Eden Sahle

As we navigate life, being hurt by others is inevitable. Often, we find ourselves in a position where we have to forgive. Still, forgiving the person who killed a loved one is entirely different. To many of us, that would seem an impossible decision. But not for a couple I know.

Their child got killed by an intoxicated driver in broad daylight. They swallowed their unimaginable pain and forgave him, astonishing everyone who knew them. They did not want to press charges against the man who fled the crime scene instead of offering help to the little girl he fatally hit with an automobile. He was a young Ethiopian-born diaspora who was on vacation in Addis Abeba when he took away their precious girl when she was on her way back home from school. The crime happened under the watch of her teenage brother, who escaped the accident but was left traumatised after the loss of his younger sister.

The fatal accident has devastated everyone who knows the family. People were looking forward to seeing the man behind bars. As much as I was in disbelief that the adorable little girl was no longer alive, I could not comprehend the type of mentality it takes to forgive someone for such a crime. Showing mercy to someone who caused the death of a loved one is uncommon. Instead, such loss drives people to acts of revenge.

As a person still struggling with the loss of her father, I understand the indescribable grief that engulfed them unexpectedly. But their forgiveness has taught me a profound new lesson. They have made an incredible twist to the tragedy. Their mercy was equally as staggering as the accident itself. But to a family known for their kindness and care, it was just another act of kindness.

While everyone expected them to get busy with court litigation to make the man responsible, they dedicated their time to looking after their traumatised teenage son and protecting the memory of their daughter. They shook off some of their debilitating sorrow, and channeled their grief towards forgiveness and healing.

Life tests in ways that can either overcome or drown us. There is no more uncertain journey than life itself. Each day is a way to discover where nothing is familiar for the most part. We have to manage our way through the unknown of every day, hoping to reach the other side to maturity and progress. In hurting, there is no other way out but to break out to heal and forgive, mostly for our sake.

The family could have chosen to let the young man serve jail time, but they let him go in kindness. They were convinced that his sentencing would not bring them healing or comfort. They believed it would spoil their happy memory about their little girl. It was their way of ending the cycle of brokenness, anger and hate. It is an extraordinary decision that will remain with them for life.

They still speak about their daughter passing at such a tender age with great sorrow. They are devastated that their little girl went before them. It saddens them that she never reached adulthood, graduated or got married.

At the same time, they condemn the criminal offence that robbed them of their little girl, who was the charm of her family. They are disappointed the man they forgave did not have the heart to help their child in the critical last minutes of her life. But they chose the high road and showed the man they were not like him. They were concerned about his future, although he did not care for their child.

If he is the kind of man who will learn, the family gave him a lifetime lesson. Even if he did not serve a jail term and left the country in peace, his crime and the mercy he received will be with him forever. The parent's story teaches reconciliation, brings profound healing and peace instead of an eye-for-an-eye. They advocated mercy. We ought to pay attention.

PUBLISHED ON Sep 24,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1169]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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