A prominent exorcist, Father Gary Thomas, gave a talk at UNC, which you can find on YouTube here.
1:03:00 in, he says that a deceased spirit can linger because someone’s inability to forgive them kept them bound to them. The story he gives is a woman who didn’t forgive her husband, and his spirit still lingers.
I suppose the popular conception of this would be a ghost with unfinished business. (I’m surprised that movies are actually right on the possibility of it.)
Here is the question. Why is it that? We know that a person is judged upon death, and goes to heaven, hell or purgatory. As far as Church Teaching is concerned, there is no allowance, insofar as I know, for God’s judgement to be that a person should be bound to earth. (If there is a relevant part of the Catechism that would refute that, I’ll be happy to be corrected.)
Also, the lack of forgiveness is a sin on the part of the living person, not the deceased. It seems odd that the dead person should be kept from heaven or purgatory because of someone else’s sin.
Would this be a state of suffering for the disembodied spirit? Is this a form of purgatory on earth? Or rather, is the person in purgatory but reaching out into our world? That seems like a possible explanation; we know of stories where Padre Pio was visited by people in purgatory. Still, it doesn’t seem to explain why the dead person suffers because his or her loved one didn’t forgive him or her.
Lastly, are there any other cases besides grudges where a dead person would be stuck as a disembodied spirit?