Forgiving the other person can be difficult. Forgiving yourself? Even harder.
On 23rd February, a 54-year-old disabled man crashed his car into a restaurant while trying to park it. The incident, which happened at Taman Bandar Baru, Kampar, caused the death of Wong Kwai Yung (59) who was a cook in the restaurant and injured another worker, Sek Loow See (50).
The disabled driver had lost his leg two years ago due to a car accident. Now that he was the perpetrator of another car crash, he has been struggling with a lot of self-blame. Chong Zhemin, a local politician, initially planned to help the deceased’s family by contributing to their pension and visiting their home. However, the son of the victim had a request. “(He) said that he hoped that the driver in the accident would attend his mother’s funeral and apologise to her so that she could rest in peace,” Chong said in his Facebook post.
So Chong reached out to the driver. He found a man racked with guilt and plagued with sleepless nights. “The horrible scenes kept lingering in his mind. Without sleep at night, not only was there grief in his heart, but also extreme self-blame,” Chong explained. “Although he felt very guilty, he did not dare to take the first step and to offer incense in front of the funeral hall. He did not have the courage to face the accusations of the deceased’s family and the eyes of others.”
Chong offered to accompany him to the funeral, and the man agreed, stepping out of the house for the first time since the accident. Everyone was relieved that the family members did not blame the driver when he showed up at the funeral hall. Chong found the eldest son’s attitude “especially admirable” as he was calm and collected.
The driver’s persistent guilt was still evident to all at the service. “He was silent in front of the funeral hall,” Chong recalled. The man had knelt onto the ground, supported by his remaining leg before knocking his head suddenly on the ground. The action shocked them and Chong quickly stepped in to prevent him from being injured.
“We are not the parties who can understand their pain. Only the family can decide whether to forgive and only they can decide whether to let go,” Chong wrote. “There is still a long way to go, but an apology is always the first step to untying the knot.” He concluded his post saying, “We wish them strength through the suffering, to heal their wounds quickly.”
Some netizens sent their sympathies to the driver, understanding the guilt he would be facing for taking a life, even unintentionally. Others could not understand why he was driving that day. One comment stated people should be cautious before it becomes too late and the only thing to do is regret.
We hope both the driver and family of the victim will be able to find peace. We also pray that the driver will, one day, be able to forgive himself.