Can you forgive dead people?

A gentile, retired man approached me at church last weekend and said, “Mark, I’ve been reading your book.” Then he bluntly asked, “Can you forgive dead people?”

My heart hurt as he told me about the injuries he still carries from the years of abuse inflicted by his step-dad that began when he was a six-year-old boy. After all these years, he’s now wondering if forgiveness is even possible.

Family Stones

Sadly, our hurts often outlive our offenders.

Can you relate? Is there someone who has died that you’ve never forgiven? Has your opportunity to forgive been lost forever? Do you feel stuck with the hurt they caused you?

Here are two important things to keep in mind when you need to forgive someone who is deceased:

1) In order for your heart to heal, you must forgive.

You’ve heard the phrase “time heals all wounds”. That is a myth. Time provides perspective but time alone does not heal. Forgiveness, not time, heals.

2) Your offender plays no part in your forgiveness.

Your offender is responsible for your hurt but they have no voice in your forgiveness. It takes two people to reconcile but only one person to forgive.

So, the question is, how can you forgive someone who is deceased? You forgive a deceased person the exact same way you forgive someone who is alive. How do you do that? Did I mention that I wrote a book? Well, it includes specific behaviors to help you fully forgive.

It might encourage you to read my friend Kim Mayner’s personal story forgiving her deceased Dad. It’s amazing! You can read it HERE.

Our conversation will be better if you participate.

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2 thoughts on “Can you forgive dead people?

  1. I found this question so interesting. We are so deep in the emotions we can reach for in ourselves….I find people are also deeple effected if someone dies when they are estranged. Thats a tough one…but it goes back to reconciliation is between 2…and forgiving yourself I think is the battle if someone dies before the earthly efforts take place. Self forgiveness is a battle that does leave many Stuck. what do you think?

    • Thank you Patti. I think you’re right that forgiving yourself is difficult but necessary. I cover that question in my book because I’ve known so many who struggle with it.