I started the process of forgiving my mother. As I went on this journey, I realized that she was treated very badly by my grandmother, who passed away before I was born.  Should I also forgive my grandmother, even though I never met her?

Yes, you can forgive your grandmother.  This is what the philosopher, Trudy Govier, calls secondary forgiveness.  Even though your grandmother was not directly unjust to you, she was indirectly unjust to you because of what she did to your mother.

You might want to read this essay from Psychology Today: Can You Forgive a Person Who Has Died? 

What steps can we take to forgive non-living things such as illnesses or natural disasters?

Actually, we do not forgive illnesses or natural disasters because these cannot act unjustly toward us.  The key is to accept (rather than forgive) these when we are affected by them.

For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined.

I don’t feel anger.  So, I don’t need to forgive my father for ignoring me while I was growing up, right?

You do not have to feel anger to forge ahead with forgiving.  For example, are you feeling disappointed or sad?  Do you think you can have a genuine trusting relationship with your father now?  If not, then forgiving would be appropriate.  In other words, it is not only feelings of anger that motivate forgiving.  If you think you have been treated unfairly and this is getting in the way of your current relationship with your father, then forgiving would be appropriate if you choose to do so.

For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined.

As a follow-up to my previous question about retaining anger for years, is it truly forgiving another if there is anger still present, even if that anger is mild and not toxic?

Yes, if you wish the other well, if you see the other as possessing unconditional inherent (built-in) worth, and if you have committed to doing no harm to that person, then you have forgiven. Having some anger does not invalidate all of this goodness that you have toward the one who hurt you.

For additional information, see  The Four Phases of Forgiveness. 

Is wanting to forgive for your own sake selfish?

There is a difference between being selfish and being self-focused. Suppose you have a throbbing knee after a workout. Is going to the sports medicine clinic selfish? No; it is an issue of self-care. Being motivated to be psychologically more healthy upon forgiving is similar. Your motivation of self-focused care may change to a different motivation as you proceed with the forgiveness process. Your motivation may then include the other person, as you develop a concern for this person’s well-being.

For additional information, see Forgiveness for Individuals.

I hate to admit it, but I have been hating someone for years. How long now will it take me to forgive? I want it all wrapped up this week.

Please do not think of forgiving as a kind of pill one takes for a headache. You do not take a forgiveness pill and then wait a little while for complete relief. Forgiveness, instead, is a process, a challenging process, that takes time to develop. We find that the more severe the injustice against a person, then the longer it may take to forgive. If you work at it, we find that people tend to feel some relief in about 12 weeks; others still may take much longer, but even in this longer process, you might sense that your anger is diminishing, which can motivate you to keep at the forgiveness process. Anger is not necessarily entirely eliminated when a person forgives, but hatred (very deep and abiding anger) does tend to diminish. I am encouraged that you are considering forgiving even with hatred in your heart. This, to me, is a good sign that you will make progress in your forgiving.

 

People forgive for whose sake: the other or the self?

The point of forgiving is to offer goodness toward the one who acted unjustly. Yet, one very common motivation is to forgive to feel better, to rid oneself of resentment. This motivation (relief from suffering in the self) is not the same as what forgiving actually is (a gift to the other).

For additional information, see What Is Forgiveness?