A Duxbury, Massachusetts, father experienced the unimaginable last week, when his three young children were murdered in their home. His wife, Lindsay Clancy, was charged with strangling their children.
Sadness, grief and confusion enveloped the town, with many wondering how a mother could possibly kill her kids. Some expressed anger amid such a tragedy. Others, compassion for a mom who was dealing with an unknown “condition,” according to her husband, Patrick Clancy.
Patrick Clancy issued a powerful statement Saturday, saying he has forgiven his wife. His words made national news headlines, with some questioning how he could find room in his broken heart to forgive. Psychologists say forgiveness, even in the most dire situations, is challenging – but it’s possible. And it may not be entirely unexpected under the circumstances. Here’s why.
What happened in Duxbury?
Tragedy struck on Jan. 24 when Lindsay Clancy, 32, allegedly killed her three young children (5-year-old Cora; 3-year-old Dawson; and infant son Callan) before attempting to take her own life. The eldest two children were pronounced dead that night according to the district attorney’s office. The youngest 8-month-old boy died Friday.
Lindsay Clancy is currently facing murder and strangulation charges in connection with their deaths.
Her husband Patrick, who made the 911 call, shared a message through an extended family member, Matthew Glaser, on a GoFundMe for the family. In a profound moment of self-reflection, he asked the public to forgive his wife, as he did.
“A lot of people have said they can’t imagine and they’re right, there’s absolutely nothing that can prepare you,” Patrick wrote. “The shock and pain is excruciating and relentless. I’m constantly reminded of them and with the little sleep I get, I dream about them on repeat. Any parent knows, it’s impossible to understand how much you will love your kids until you have them. The same goes for understanding the devastation of losing them.”
He added he hopes people will “find it deep within yourselves to forgive Lindsay, as I have.”
“The real Lindsay was generously loving and caring towards everyone – me, our kids, family, friends… The very fibers of her soul are loving. All I wish for her now is that she can somehow find peace.”
More:Patrick Clancy asks forgiveness for wife in heartbreaking post
How is forgiveness possible?
To forgive someone does not mean to absolve them of guilt or immediately embark on a path of happiness. It’s a slow process and typically unusual to get to that phase as quickly as this grieving father did.
But forgiving someone is more for yourself than them, according to psychologist Fred Luskin, who directs Stanford University’s Forgiveness projects. A 2020 study also found that compared to revenge, forgiveness is a more empowering tool for coping with the burden of emotional baggage.
“Sometimes, it can be a form of avoidance,” Luskin says. “To rush through the grieving process, to circumvent it and go right to forgiveness…”
Luskin explains, “Everybody has their own unique style for dealing with tragedy and loss, and that can include releasing someone we love from blame, and releasing yourself from bitterness.”
Why is it so hard to forgive?
Contributing: Mary Whitfill, The Patriot Ledger