In the period between McLachlan's previous album Afterglow and Laws of Illusion the Canadian singer-songwriter married then separated. On the disc McLachlan looks at love from both sides. Regarding this song, she said: "Forgiveness is about the loss of a relationship and drawing a line in the sand, saying: This is not good for me and I can't do it anymore."
Not all the songs on Laws of Illusion deal with McLachlan's separation from her husband and father of their two children, Ashwin Sood. She told Spinner UK, "I've said things in songs in the past that I perhaps shouldn't have. A song like 'Forgiveness,' for example. If my ex hears that, it's going to gut him. It's not about him, I wrote the chorus seven years ago, but the obvious conclusion to draw is that it's about him."