Conor McBride, then 19 years old, used his father's shotgun to shoot his girlfriend after two days of arguing. He walked into the police station on that fateful March 28, 2010 telling them they needed to arrest him, he just shot his fiancÃ©e. Ann Grosmaire passed after four days on life support. During their courtship the two families had built a friendship. Ann's parents Andy and Kate Grosmaire reached the decision to forgive Conor pretty quickly, within a week. The idea first came to Andy while in the hospital. He heard his daughter ask him to forgive Conor. Immediately, without thought he responded loudly "no." Realizing his daughter was not capable of physically speaking he felt her soul was communicating with him. Several more times she asked him to forgive. When Andy talked to his wife about forgiving Conor she was unsure if she would be able to.
A member of the Grosmaire church told them about Restorative Justice and the couple decided to give it a try. Andy had committed himself to granting forgiveness. Kate was not sure if she would be able to follow through. After speaking with her daughter's shooter and digesting all that was said she was ready to accept forgiving Conor. The Grosmaires are quick to point out that forgiveness is not a free pass. Restorative Justice is not a fix-all, it does not replace the justice system. Their heart still hurts for Ann. What it did for the Grosmaires was to allow them to not be imprisoned by their negative emotions surrounding Ann's death. It allowed them to let go of the anger. The process allowed the collaborative unburdening of pain which set the Grosmaires free.
When asked why she was able to forgive Conor, Kate Grosmaire stated if she judged Conor on that moment, reduced him to killer, then she would have to reduce her daughter to that moment, to victim. Ann was so much more and so was Conor. In theory the process has merit but many questioned whether it would work in practice. Criticism of the process run the gambit from vigilante justice to trivializing crime. In this case the Grosmaires had a good relationship with and understanding of the offender before the murder. That is not the case for many victims.
Anger is part of healing. It runs it's course and then should be released. A victim holding on to anger extensively is damaging. How long is a reasonable amount of time? For the Grosmaires it was one week. Perhaps for them, they made the conscious decision not to allow anger to get a foothold in the first place. Maybe Restorative Justice is better suited for minor acts of vandalism or other misdemeanors.