Kate Grosmaire, with Nancy French. Forgiving My Daughter's Killer: A True Story of Loss, Faith, and Unexpected Grace. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2016. See here to buy the book.
and Kate Grosmaire had a daughter named Ann. Ann had a boyfriend,
Conor, who was practically part of the Grosmaire family. But Conor shot
Ann in the head. The Grosmaires were not saints. They would admit
that. Andy and Kate got into an argument at a grocery store, and one of
their therapists told them that they really shouldn't be together!
Yet, the Grosmaires managed to forgive their daughter's killer. They
pursued a path of restorative justice rather than strictly punitive
justice: Conor would spend time in jail for a period of time, learning
and growing rather than rotting away there. And Conor would perform
acts of restitution. These acts would include speaking to teens about
teen violence and serving the causes that Ann cared about, particularly
I decided to read this book to learn how to forgive
better. If I could see how someone could forgive a person in an
extreme case----the murder of a loved one----then perhaps that could
help me forgive people for far lesser things. Kate did talk about
various motivations behind her forgiveness: her realization that she has
made mistakes herself; her recognition of what she was capable of doing
(i.e., she almost ran someone over in her younger years when she was
angry); her refusal to limit her daughter's life to being a victim of
murder; God's command that she forgive; and her desire for inner peace.
She acknowledges that forgiveness has been a struggle. This was
particularly the case after Conor told her the story of Ann's murder.
At times, Kate did not even want to see Conor. Yet, she went through
the motions and walked the path of forgiveness.
Even after reading
Kate's motivations behind her forgiveness, I find that it is difficult
to make myself believe and internalize the insights that can make me a
more forgiving person. That is why I especially appreciated the book's
insight that we can start where we are, and become more forgiving as we
For example, one of the people in the book, Sujatha, was a
restorative justice advocate, and Sujatha was telling her story about
how she became involved in that line of work. Sujatha was abused as a
child, and she went to law school to become a prosecutor who would put
child abusers behind bars. She was very angry, and she was becoming
concerned about this. She got an audience with the Dalai Lama, who
suggested that she meditate and open her heart to her enemies. Sujatha
replied that she would never open her heart to her enemies. "Okay,
okay, then you just meditate," the Dalai Lama responded. Sujatha
forgave her father as she meditated. She became a defense attorney to
defend abused women who shot their husbands, but she found herself
defending abusers, as well. She heard their stories and found that many
of them were people like her, with similar experiences, and they wanted
to apologize and make restitution for what they did. She found that
the legal system, as it was, was not very conducive to restitution or
apologies: one side wanted punishment for the person who did wrong, and
the other side would deny wrongdoing to escape punishment. That was how
Sujatha became involved in restorative justice.
The book was
especially effective in describing how restorative justice could clash
with the judicial system as it is currently set up. I did have some
difficulty, as a reader, experiencing Kate's forgiveness of Conor with
her. I identified more with Kate's stories about trying to get along
with her husband, and Sujatha's story also resonated with me (though I
was not abused as a child). But I respect Kate's insights because they
helped her on the journey of forgiveness.
I received a
complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher through
BookLook Bloggers, in exchange for an honest review.
Searching hearts and minds
3 hours ago