A grace too powerful to name

On the anniversary of the tragic death of the Abdallah children, Anna Grummitt ponders what could lead a family to such profound forgiveness.

It’s been a year since the CPX team first started writing these ‘Thinking Out Loud’ columns. Last February, Simon began with a reflection on the Abdallah family, whose three children and niece were killed by a drunk driver while walking to buy ice-cream. Incredibly, in the face of immeasurable tragedy, parents Daniel and Leila Abdallah did something unimaginable – they chose to forgive the driver.

I was deeply moved by the Abdallahs’ story, and I’ve been thinking of them again this week with the first anniversary of that terrible day. As a tribute to the children, Leila and Daniel launched i4give Day, to be held annually on 1 February. The purpose of the day is to encourage people to search their hearts and find someone to forgive. “Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others”, Leila Abdallah said.

Last year, during a course my husband and I did to strengthen our marriage, I had to face an uncomfortable truth: forgiveness doesn’t come naturally to me, even when what I’m asked to forgive is very small. When I think of the immensity of what the Abdallahs have forgiven, I’m left in awe. What could lead them to forgive someone who has caused them such profound, ongoing sorrow?

There’s a beautiful song from the musical Hamilton called ‘It’s Quiet Uptown’ which portrays the Hamiltons’ grief after their son’s death. Many of the lines remind me of the Abdallahs’ experience. “There are moments that the words don’t reach.” “There is suffering too terrible to name.” “They are going through the unimaginable.” But also: “There’s a grace too powerful to name.”

It’s this grace – which the family locate in their Christian faith – that has brought the Abdallahs, against all odds, to this place of forgiveness and peace.