Parents Forgive Driver Charged With Killing Their Kids -- So Who Are We to Judge?

cemeteryLosing a child is every parent's nightmare. It's hard to imagine how one would cope after such a loss, especially if our children's deaths were the result of someone else's actions. In an act that is being both praised and criticized, the parents of two children killed in an accident last week have forgiven the driver being charged for the accident. Gentry and Hadley Eddings were in a car hit by a 28-year-old man driving a six-wheel commercial box truck after police say the driver failed to stop at a red light and rear-ended the Eddings. Their 2-year-old son, Dobbs, was killed, and Hadley, who was 38-weeks pregnant, had an emergency c-section. That baby, a boy they named Reed, died on Monday.


The family's decision to forgive the other driver has mostly been met with applause, but some are arguing that forgiveness should be impossible in this situation. Some commenters have gone a step further. As one commenter on Yahoo put it:

To forgive someone who ran a stop sign and turned your innocent children into road kill is wrong on so many levels. So what if it makes YOU feel better? If their 2 year old could speak from the grave, I'm sure he would say, "I thought you loved me! How could you be so quick to forgive someone who just destroyed my life?"

As far as I am concerned, the Eddings should be able to do and feel whatever they want to about this without any judgment. If they said they wanted the man dead, I would understand. I also understand why they have instead chosen to forgive him, and I would probably do the same if I were in their shoes.

As Gentry, who is a pastor, told the Charlotte Observer:

We have, in our hearts, forgiven the man who did this. It was not the easiest thing to do, but in some ways it was because we know – Hadley and I – that Jesus Christ has forgiven us our debt. ... So in some ways, it was very easy to forgive a man who made an accident.

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Some people deserve forgiveness, and others have to earn it. If it was truly an accident, and a mistake that any decent person could have made, then I believe forgiveness is possible. None of us are immune from these kinds of mistakes -- how many times have you had to brake suddenly because you didn't realize the car in front of you was stopped? How many close calls have we all had while driving? That driver would already be punished for the rest of his or her life with the knowledge that their stupid mistake resulted in the deaths of children. My hatred would contribute nothing and would only make my pain worse.

That said, there are a number of situations in which my forgiveness would not come easily, if at all. If the other driver had been drunk, for example, or had a history of reckless driving, it would take a lot for me to be able to forgive them. They would need to accept responsibility, be remorseful, and completely change their lives. I'm talking about starting a literacy program in prison, planting a garden, raising a puppy to be a guide dog, being an otherwise model prisoner, and devoting the rest of their lives to the good of others. After 20 or so years of that, I could see myself forgiving them. 

This couple has lost more than I can imagine ever being able to bear. The fact that they have forgiven this young man does not mean that they didn't love their kids. What it means is that while they are at the bottom of the deepest hole they will ever be in, they have decided to start carving hand holds to climb out instead of beating at the walls.

What would it take to forgive the driver who caused the death of your kids?

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