Can you forgive someone who is deceased? #ForgivenessFriday

Is it possible to forgive someone who is deceased?

My friend Kim recently shared her incredible story of forgiveness with me. I hope it touches you like it did me.

Kim MaynerI experienced anger toward my dad who was an alcoholic. He died 23 years ago.

Growing up with an alcoholic/addict was absolutely ugly and awful. We never knew what the day was going to bring. I remember praying a lot that my Dad would come home on time and not be drunk. If it was past 6:30 it was time to go hide. My dad was not a mean drunk, but the fights that ensued were violent, ugly and impossible to get away from.

We moved a lot because my Dad lost a lot of jobs and couldn’t pay the rent/mortgage. Many times growing up there wouldn’t be enough food in the house to feed us. I started working in the cafeteria in 4th grade because we would get a free lunch.

My dad would take me on drives sometimes and stop at a bar called The Elbow Room. He would leave me in the car and say he would be just a few minutes and come out 6 hours later drunk.

When I found out he was in the hospital dying I was pregnant with our daughter Kayla who would never meet him. I prayed he would talk to me when I got there. That he would tell me he loved me, that he would say he was sorry, that he was proud of me. None of those things happened and he died 2 days later. I couldn’t say anything at his memorial, there was not one good thing I could think of to say.

All my feelings were bottled up inside me until my 35th birthday, when I had a break down. I went to counseling and my counselor suggested I write him a letter. I sat down and wrote page after page of my hurt and anger. At the end of that letter, I finally forgave him. Obviously, he never saw this letter, but it wasn’t for him, it was for me. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and my heart after that. Forgiveness is needed to heal our hearts, to let go of the power that we give others.

If you are struggling with forgiveness and hurt, Forgive! It’s for you.

Kim Mayner has been married to her husband Jeff for 28 years and has 3 adult children. In addition to owning three Burger King franchises in Ventura County, Kim is a small group leader in our church and a force of constant encouragement for all who know her!

Our conversation will be better if you participate.

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7 thoughts on “Can you forgive someone who is deceased? #ForgivenessFriday

  1. Thanks for sharing this story. I unfortunately relate to your pain. Over the years I have learned to put it behind me but that is not the same as forgiveness. I won’t go into detail about the nightmare my sister and I suffered at the hands of this drunken abusive ungodly man. However, I shared the Gospel with him on his death bed in the clearest compassionate way I could only to see him reject it and curse God. If there is any positive thing that came out of this, it is the very day he died, I took my mom into the chapel room at St. John’s hospital and shared the good news with her. Unlike my father she eagerly received the plan of salvation. Romans talks about the renewing of your mind. That is exactly what happened to my mom at 63 years old. She stopped the drinking and smoking, and dedicated the last twenty years of her life to serving our Lord. When my father died there were three people at his funeral and no tears. When I spoke at my mothers memorial service there was a packed church that even had to use the overflow seating. My moms last wishes were that I would share the same Gospel message that I shared with her so many years before. I did and still do.

    • Sorry to hear about your Dad Chuck. So encouraged to hear about the transformation of your Mom’s heart! Grateful that Kim’s story reminds us that our forgiveness is not based on “their” reaction or reception. Appreciate your commitment to share the Gospel.

  2. Thank you Mark. Whereas I totally agree with Kim that forgiveness is for us, I know there are some things I probably could never honestly forgive . The best I could do for him is offer the perfect forgiveness only Christ can supply. I don’t carry around crippling animosity and know God can use even that past pain to build me as a father, husband and believer. There is only one Gospel but every testimony is different and each valuable.

  3. I agree – forgiveness is for the forgiver. In my 5th step, I read my letter(s) out loud to my sponsor. I felt as though I was having a panic attack as I spoke out the things I was forbidden to talk about growing up. But when I was finished – about 2 hours later- I experienced a freedom I had never known. I realized that “hurt people hurt people.” And the next time I went through the Steps, I concentrated on harm I had done to others. There was, afterward, a deep work of forgiveness and corresponding amends that resulted in rigorous honesty in all my relationships. God’s grace has always been available to me, but it was not until I poured out all the resentment and bitterness, and dishonesty in my soul, that I was able to receive it. And the measure of grace I give is the measure I get back…every Thursday night!

  4. Connie I’m always grateful for your transparency. Bitterness and dishonesty sustain unforgiveness. Forgiveness is a self-healing exercise. I love Kim’s encouragement, “Forgive! It’s for you.”