Question: I am wondering about the following situation. A person has tried to commit suicide because he or she was so despondent from another’s actions. The one who attempted suicide did nothing wrong. Will forgiveness (by the one who attempted) take a while to heal these deep wounds?

The deeper the emotional wound, then the longer the forgiveness process seems to be.  In a case like this, yes, it could take many months for the one who forgives to experience emotional relief and to conclude that he or she has forgiven.  Please keep in mind that the one who forgives does not have to become a perfect forgiver to experience emotional relief.

You talk about forgiving and seeking justice at the same time. I am of Asian origin and it is considered completely disrespectful to ask for justice from one’s own parent. It is even difficult to consider forgiving a parent because then you are saying that he or she is immoral, something I have been taught in my culture not to ever do. Now what?

I think we have to make an important distinction between condemning the parent and acknowledging the truth that all people are imperfect.  Imperfection does not equate with condemnation.  If you are able to see your parent as imperfect, then it follows that he or she will sometimes make mistakes or even do wrong.  You can then forgive while you keep in mind that this is not condemnation or disrespect.  In fact, it is an attempt to see your parent as possessing inherent worth despite the imperfection.  To me, this is a sign of respect for the parent as a worthwhile person.

With that said, we now have to deal with the issue of ever asking a parent for a change in behavior.  I think it depends on how you do this.  Following the ideas in the first paragraph, you need not approach a parent in an accusatory way, but instead in a constructive way.  For example, suppose your parent is continually harsh with you.  Do you think you could say something like this: “Yes, I will try to do better.  My intentions are good and so I hope that you see that in me.”  In other words, you are pointing out something in you—in you—for the parent to see.  You are not confronting or correcting then.