Is My Grandmother in Hell?

My maternal grandmother was raised Catholic and left the Church at the age of 22 when she married my grandfather. She did not return to the Church after his death. Also, she did not confess her sins of the previous 54 years.

For the most part, she didn’t change the way she lived her life, she just no longer attended church. She only knew Catholicism. I became Catholic because of the wonderful person she was.

My question: Is she in Hell 38 years after her death?

I don’t think there’s really anyway to know for sure. As long as she didn’t commit any mortal sins that she failed to confess, I’d assume she was in Purgatory, but I don’t know, I’m not the one in charge of that…

That is a question for God. Who knows what happened at the moment of her death.

The prayer at the end of each decade is wonderful.

Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins and save us from the fires of hell. Deliver all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Your mercy.

Isn’t not attending Mass a mortal sin?

I agree with all of you that nobody knows. God’s mercy is very powerful and forgiving.

I would like to continue to discuss this issue. It’s not an idle question.

There is not much point in discussion. The Church declares no one condemned to hell. We can have hope for anyone that they are saved. It is well worth your time to pray for and offer masses for your Grandmother.

I would remind you of the parable of the workers in the field, Mt 20:1-16. And that, in combination that God’s mercy is infinite, He gives everyone all of the opportunities they need to repent. So pray, pray, pray. That is what you can do.

I’m so sorry for your pain. As the others have told you, only God can judge and there truly isn’t any way for us to know. I know that doesn’t give you much comfort.

Remember that God truly loves us and He wants us with Him in heaven. If she was as good a person as you describe, God will consider that and all of the elements of her life. Nothing is impossible for God!

If she is in purgatory, do you know that you can pray for her? You can pray for the reparation of her sins to reduce her time there. It is a very loving and charitable thing to do.


It’s an objectively grave sin according to the Church. For a sin to be mortal (i.e., cut a person off from God) it must meet three conditions:

  1. Grave matter (check)
  2. Full knowledge (not just knowing that yes, there is a rule on the books, but knowing in your conscience that what you are doing is gravely wrong, whether you admit it or not) and
  3. Deliberate consent (again, more complicated than it looks–we have no way of knowing what kinds of psychological factors are at stake here)

Given how you describe your grandmother, she doesn’t sound like the kind of person who was deliberately turning her back on God. But one doesn’t know for sure.


I have the same concern for some members of my family. And the answer is yes, it is possible. But it is also possible that she is in Purgatory. God can and does forgive us of mortal sins, for which I am personally very thankful.

I chose to believe that they choose forgiveness when it was offered to them.

Doesn’t that answer your question?

Not attending Mass is a grave matter. For something to be a mortal sin, deliberate consent, and full knowledge are needed according to the Catechism.

I would pray for your grandmother. Shoot for the plenary indulgence for her.

No one can know this or even take a guess. We really don’t know the state of her soul at the time of death. Only God knows this. Some will probably suggest she is in Purgatory. I suggest you simply pray for her soul and God’s mercy. You can always offer your sufferings for this intention.

What a wonderful testimony of her life.
You became Catholic because of her. I bet there’s a story to tell about that.

Perhaps, this Cath. Answers link might comfort you some:

But never stop praying for her.

Only God knows where people end up.

We cannot say if any specific individual has gone to Hell because we do not know the state of anyone’s soul when they die. All we know with certainty is that anyone who dies in a state of mortal sin goes immediately to Hell.

Thank your for your responses. I truly feel that God decides on an individual basis. I’ve never mentioned my doubts to anyone before, but some comments I’ve heard from some people make the issue seem black and white.

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