Honoring your parents after death


How do you do this? Please keep in mind that I’m still in RCIA so I don’t know much about it but I’m feeling led to at least investigate it and to also work out some remaining angst.

My biological parents are both dead, as are both sets of my grandparents. My paternal grandparents raised me, but they didn’t charitably take me in, they took me from my dad and step-mother with a threat that if dad didn’t straighten up they’d take their other kids, too. They totally controlled my relationship with my dad, step-mother and siblings until I was old enough to move in with my dad (and then my grandmother tried to act as gatekeeper at dad’s funeral a few moths later, dictating to me when or even if I was going to be allowed to view his body) and ran him down every opportunity they had. My grandmother, especially, was very competitive with other women and she despised my step-mother and my mother before her. I forgave my step-mother for an incident that happened in my childhood and GM overheard me and ranted about how I could forgive SM but not her (I’d forgiven her many things, but never wanted to open the discussion because I was fearful of how I would be blamed for ruining her life). Toward the end of her life she even competed with me in many ways for the attention of my husband, including putting my engagement ring on her finger and commenting that it fit her better and cutting into our first dance at our wedding reception.

I know that these are hurts that I need to forgive and get over, but some questions for me remain. My paternal grandparents raised me, but shouldn’t have and were wrong to have taken me (a few months later they tried to get my older brother, too) and used me as a bludgeon against my dad (he got to see me when he jumped through their hoops). Do they get the same kind of honor that my biological parents would, or do I honor them more because they raised me regardless of how or why? This is not something I want to fulfill the minimum requirement on; I truly want to please God. And was my rant in my second paragraph dishonoring to them, even though it’s true and an account of what happened to me?

Thanks in advance.


To honor your parents, and your grandparents, does not mean constructing an alter in their memory and paying homage to it. And at this point, you shouldn’t worry about how much honor each “parent figure” deserves. Just regard them with charity and respect, even though in the world’s eyes they may not be deserving of either. Not only will treating your memories of them and the facts of your past in this way (with Christian charity undergirding your mindset) help you conform to the fourth commandment, but it will help you immeasurably to understand and deal with the things happened to you. That being said, recounting the facts of your childhood truthfully, acknowledging the real sorrow, anger or pain associated with them, is not dishonoring your parents or your grandparents, but rather is a part of the healing process that you seem to be in at this point in time. As you probably know, your childhood was terribly dysfunctional and now that you are an adult (and these people are gone) a mature, spiritual understanding can aid your emotional recovery.

Where does your husband fit into this? In the parish where you are in RCIA, is there a priest who can help you? Can you afford counseling or therapy with a good Catholic professional? You have a lot of issues here that must have done great damage to your self-esteem, that is, your capacity and willingness to love and accept yourself. Your desire to please God is a noble one. By turning to God and healing yourself, you will please God very, very much. Always begin and end with prayer, but actively seek help as well. Let whatever honor you bestow on your parents and grandparents flow from there, the Holy Spirit will show you how to do so in time, don’t worry about it. God bless you now and as you prepare to enter the Catholic Church.


2 years ago when my father died, I went and bought a nice gold chain to put a cross I had on. I wear the cross and chain in honor of BOTH my earthly father and my heavenly Father.

                    ~ Kathy ~


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