Deceased Souls - Where are They?


I know what we, as Catholics, have been taught about death of the body and the soul living on, etc., - wherever that soul may go. But despite my firm beliefs - I am having serious grieving problems, wondering where my parents’ souls have gone. I KNOW what we were taught. I know we’re not supposed to consult psychics, etc., much as I would like to, if our Faith permitted. WHERE ARE THEY? Where are the souls? I have looked at some religious (biblical not Catholic) sites online, and the interpretations are different than what we’ve been taught. Are they spirits? The breath that was in a body? Have they become part of God - if Heaven-bound? From what I read, they may not be the individuals we knew on earth. But then, what about purgatory?

Where are they? Where are they? What do they look like? In my lack of knowledge/answer to this question, I’m just losing it.


I am sorry for the grief you are experiencing at the loss of your parents. I pray that you will find God’s peace, and that they enjoy eternal life with God forever.

The “textbook” answer is that they are in heaven, purgatory (temporary purification on the way to heaven), or hell, depending on how they lived their lives and their relationship with God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven — through a purification or immediately, — or immediate and everlasting damnation.

It says further that

1025 To live in heaven is “to be with Christ.” The elect live “in Christ,” but they retain, or rather find, their true identity, their own name.

Unless someone has been canonized (officially declared by the Church to be a saint), we cannot know definitively whether they are in heaven, purgatory, or hell. We cannot know that the most heinous murderer did not repent at the moment of death, nor can we know that an apparently virtuous person did not succumb to the devil’s temptation on their deathbed.

What we do know is that God is completely merciful and completely just, and gives each person plenty of opportunity to reconcile with Himself. You must entrust your parents (and all deceased loved ones) to God’s infinite mercy, and continue to pray for them in case they are still in Purgatory and need the assistance of your prayers to complete their purification.

Even if your loved ones are already in heaven, your prayers for them are not wasted; they will assist some other needy souls.

Just trust in God. He is good and loving.

We do not know what they look like. Right now their souls and bodies are separate; they will be reunited at the end of time at the final judgment. In heaven you will know and recognize them in whatever way God permits that to happen. (Again, what is needed here is trust!) We know that at that time our bodies will be glorified and made perfect (no more disease, pain, handicaps, etc.) and that we will delight in being in God’s presence.


Hi “CO” I understand your grief, very well :console: I lost my dad… whom I loved dearly, 20 years ago.

I have had moments… like you’re describing. Wondering where my dear dad… is now. But I’ve come to believe that the best thing I can do FOR him… is: #1… place him in the Hands of God. #2… pray for him… and #3 have Masses offered for him. I hope to arrange for a few more, this year.

God’s Love and Mercy are so much greater… than our own human understanding. Place your dear parents in the Merciful Heart of Jesus… and entrust them… to His Infinite Love.

May God bless you and grant you peace and comfort.

MV :slight_smile:


Offer a great deal of masses for their repose. Pray the prayers for the repose of the faithfully departed, ‘Eternal Rest’, and ‘St. Gertrude the Great’s’ prayer.

There are other devotions, such as the Fifteen prayers of St. Bridget, some associated with help for the departed family members.

If, after you have done these things for a good while, you should rest more confidently that you have done what you can. :slight_smile:

Perhaps after all this you will receive some spiritual consolation. But there is a time for letting go too… God bless you I pray.

Peace and rest to you and yours!


I’m so sorry :frowning:

I suggest that you read Catholic sources, not Protestant or non Christian ones. The Saints have had many revelations that what the Church teaches us is true. There is Heaven, hell, and Purgatory. Everyone who goes to Purgatory goes to Heaven eventually. The souls keep their identity, it is still them, and we’ll be able to know our loved ones in Heaven - we’ll still recognize them and they’ll recognize us.

I suggest you turn to prayer and pray for your parents…

please don’t go to a psychic or anything, because they don’t actually give the correct information but only stuff they make up or are deceived by demons.

God bless you.


Thank you Shin for posting those wonderful suggestions. I like CO still miss my mom very much. I lost her 8 years ago and miss her everyday and many times wonder where she is too. I will truly begin praying these.

Co here is a hug.:console:

Hi MVeronica:)



I thank you all for your replies. The reason I ask the question is that it was SO INGRAINED in me from childhood, and I SO believe in our Faith - but when it hits us personally, it’s different. As Catholics, the trite sayings like - “they’re at peace now” or “they’re not suffering anymore”…are the sayings of those who don’t believe in Purgatory. I’m told constantly to trust in God - which I do. I’m fearful that the term ‘trust in God’s Mercy’ becomes a blanket statement. (How often do we see posts here about fewer souls are saved than we think.) I don’t trust in human beings since I don’t know their souls, and I don’t know what God’s Mercy allowed for them as a result. As someone mentioned, we don’t know the soul’s final acceptance or rejection of God’s Mercy. We all think in terms of ‘they were good people on earth’ - i.e. not ax murderers, horrific sinners, etc. (Hope I’m explaining myself correctly on this one.)

As for psychics, I have **absolutely no intention **of consulting one, dear friends. I made that promise to God years ago that I wouldn’t - even on other issues. I’ve been wanting to do so often but won’t. Only God knows the final answer. But despite my firm beliefs in our Catholic Faith, I expected the grief to be more the physical loss rather than the spiritial questions. Hence, my suffering and questions. God bless you all.


where would you wish your parents to spend all eternity? I hope the answer is in heaven, and that you may someday join them. If that is the case, pray for that, daily. That prayer will be antidote for your anxiety. and allow yourself to move naturally through all the phases of grief, which are legitimate and necessary, without apology, but always with Christ, and the help of prayer and sacraments.


I know what you’re saying. I lost my Dad ten years ago and my Mom just last week. I wrote and delivered my Mom’s eulogy and was so confident about praying for her and my Dad if they were in purgatory and on their way to heaven, or in heaven already. I extolled the communion of saints concept.
Then I was stricken with doubt after the funeral and started crying to my sister that my poor Mom was all alone next to Dad, buried in a little coffin in the snow covered cemetary. She had to remind me, after all my exclamations of faith in the eulogy, that it was their bodies there, not them. I was resenting other people’s cliches about the after life, even though they meant well.
I feel my Dad helped me into a reasonable financial security after he passed away. I now feel that my Mom is reminding me to take care of myself, eat right and exercise.
I am still in mourning for my Mom. I understand the period of mourning and am avoiding people because I’m really not myself. When I returned last night to a familiar situation, choir practice, I could feel the deep extent of my devastation. I keep offering prayers, candles, communion and rosaries for my Mom and Dad. I’ve gone to Mass every day this week and might not go tomorrow. It will get better.


I am so sorry.
my prayers are with you.


This is a great thread. God bless us and ours I pray. Thanks be to God. :slight_smile:


Thank you, Eli. And thanks to the OP for starting this thread and all the replies which have helped because I can now imagine my parents with a golden light shining upon them. Although none of us can really imagine the hereafter, it is a very comforting image. I’m also grateful for the suggestion that we will in some way be among our loved ones. I feel loved by Christ and I feel loved by my departed parents. My grief was compounded by a rift with my mentally ill adult son. Last night I was sure I’d go mad until I picked up my rosary (“my weapon” as Padre Pio called it). Consolation followed.
To the OP: In addition to spiritual practices, internet research into managing grief can help also. Exercise if you can. Don’t look to drink to ease the grief; it may only make things worse. Breathe deeply at times. Don’t watch films with violent content. Childrens’ films and G-rated ones are best. Take good care of yourself.
Pax et Bonum


God bless you, Rosalie :console: My prayers are with you… may Our dear Lord grant you comfort and peace at this difficult time.

Your expression of faith “it will get better” is His response to your grief. I speak from experience, also.



Dear Rosalie -
My ***sincerest condolences ***on your recent and greatest loss. I will offer you the following, which may or may not be helpful - but I ask that you accept it from one whose mother was their whole life.

  1. Have Gregorian Masses said (30 days consecutively). It had been my mother’s wish - but I’d forgotten until months after she was gone.

  2. The mourning period is officially only one month. But grieving has no deadline, and you must never let anyone tell you how to grieve. It is unique to each of us. Further, your personal family circumstances, as you mentioned, make the grieving all the more difficult.

But I will add that despite the Masses and prayers, trust in & begging God & Our Lady (for they are the only ones that have the answer) - the grief is a horrendous thing. Particularly, having been raised on, and with trust in, the Baltimore Catechism and Church teachings. I didn’t expect to ask the question “where is she?” I just expected to miss her. I once told Our Lady that, “God has taken my mother, and I don’t know where He brought her.” As I said those words, I realized they were eerily similar to those of Mary Magdalen when she met Our Lord near His empty tomb - thinking He was the gardener. (“They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they have brought Him.”)

And so, our grief echoes the same questions asked long ago. But I’m not getting the answers that Mary Magdalen did. God doesn’t work that way, I suppose. I was hoping for a sign, though. Despite my strong foundation and belief in my Catholic Faith, with the loss of my mother, there has been a shock beyond the expected - not a lack of Faith. Where are the spirits of those that once nurtured and comforted us - now that they’ve left their mortal bodies? We know they’re SOMEWHERE - Heaven, Purgatory. But where is somewhere? I feel like a child asking this. May we all find God’s peace.

Eternal Rest grant unto their souls and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the Faithful Departed - through the Mercy of God - rest in peace. Amen.


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