Please Help What if my loved ones go to hell?


I think I’m having a nervous breakdown please help About four days ago the thought “What if my loved ones go to hell” came into my head and no matter what I do I cannot get it to leave my head, it’s become a sort of obsession and it’s left me all but catatonic with fear- the only times I’ve not been paralysed in fear, I’ve tried to talk to my parents about this, but it hasn’t ended well. I’m 19 years old by the way

Here’s some background- My mother was baptised an Anglican and went to a Catholic school. When the time came for her year group to receive First Communion, she received it along with them- as far as I know, this was allowed- one of her teachers, a nun, went to great lengths to obtain permission for her to do so from the local bishop (or archbishop?) and permission was granted. However, her family were still Anglican, and she was confirmed into the anglican church later on.

When she met my father, he was a lapsed catholic (His home was, I don’t know the full details, but, Religion was strictly (abusively) enforced in his household, and that had left him with a whole bunch of issues- he has five siblings and as far as I know, all of them but one have fallen away from the faith.) During the time they were first dating, my mother managed to help my father regain his spiritual side and attend church again. They were married, and my mother moved away from her home town to live with my father and when I and my sister were born, we were baptised and brought up catholic. My parents are such good people and I love them so much.

Here’s the thing, though- my mum still takes communion in our church (“The permission I had was never taken away, was it?”) despite not believing in or attending confession (I’m not sure if she can, anyway?) and it terrifies me to no end that she may have committed a mortal sin and may be committing sacrilege every week but whenever I bring this up with her it leads to terrible arguments (through tears, on my part, I love her so so so so much and I don’t want anything bad to happen to her in this life or the next). She says whether she has done things wrong is between her and God and confession wasn’t the way she was taught, and anyway, she’s given up so much for our family and her being anglican is one of the only things that connects her to her upbringing and her (deceased) parents, and she spends so much time doing things for me (complicated situation which includes me being chronically ill and housebound most of the time) that she doesn’t have time to think about these esoteric concerns. Any talk we’ve had about this has turned into an argument, and me crying for hours and hours and her getting offended and saying that maybe she shouldn’t go to church anymore if i keep saying she’s doing things wrong and I don’t want that


Continued: The situations with my father and sister are simpler- he doesn’t go to confession, but mostly because he doesn’t know what to say, and my sister doesn’t usually go to mass or confession because the incense at church has triggered terrible asthma attacks in the past for her. ( NOTE: Please don’t tell me anything wrong with what they are saying. I know)

I love my family so much, more than I love myself, so much, and the thought of them not going to heaven has consumed every waking thought I’ve had, making me a shell of a person in the past week, unable to eat or sleep properly. I’m so scared. I don’t presume to know where anyone is going but I’m terrified to an obsessive, unhealthy degree. It’s eating up my life. Advice like “we can’t know, think about something else” hasn’t helped so far. I can’t stop thinking about this I’m so scared I don’t know what to do


I understand your concerns, I really do. The advice you don’t want, however, is probably the best, though, because it’s the most honest. You are trying (as all of us humans are wont to do) to apply a black-and-white view to a very nuanced and colorful situation. There are so many little details to account for here. On the surface, it’s easy to point out the sins; it’s a little more challenging to weigh out the true culpability, though. And, let’s not forget - that’s not our job!! We are told repeatedly throughout scripture to trust God and not worry. The Catechism tells us routinely that the care of loved ones’ souls must be entrusted to the Lord’s mercy. Remember, too, that we have a calendar full and more of people that we know are in heaven - many with dubious histories or sinful stories - and other than Satan himself, we have absolutely zero verification that anyone is in hell. He may be quite lonely there…

You and your family will be in my prayers.


Pray for your family tree.

You have relatives that you know would benefit, but you also have any number of ancestors you know nothing about. Pray for all of them, include them in your Mass intentions, do fasting/sacrifices/almsgiving on their behalf, and whatever else occurs to you.

Whenever you feel a worrisome thought come into your head, automatically counter it with action-- a mental prayer, a good deed, whatever. Rather than bogging down in fear, use that fearfulness in a healthy way to do just a little something that you trust God will allow to help someone, somehow, in the way they need the most.



I have a similar situation. None of my family members are believers. If they die while in unbelief, they’ll go to Hell and that scares the heck out of me. Never stop praying for your family. Jesus promised that faith can move mountains. Try to fast and pray. Every time I fast, God moves. He loves it when we rely on Him to get us through the day.



Warms my heart about your concern over your loved ones.

Please remember that God came down here for us sinners and that the Catholic church is a hospital for sinners, for all of us wounded by sin.

Have you discussed your feelings with God?

Also, what helps me, is to read solid spiritual books – those with an Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat are preferable. Also, weekly confession, for some reason, helps me so much with worry and anxiety. I assume you go to at least weekly Mass – please pray for me --> I need to go to daily Mass but I’m not there yet.

Probably one of the best things you could do for your loved ones is to try and be a good Catholic yourself, besides praying for and loving them. 19 years old is not too soon to start. It also helps me to visualize placing those I love in the hands of God. He can handle a lot & it’s okay to let Him.

Just my opinion & please ignore if it doesn’t help.


I am not yet always good about this rule, but every time I worry or fret about something I pray about it instead.

Praying for your family members will help them way more than just worrying about them, because your worry can not change anything, but your prayers ask God to change things and He actually can :slight_smile:

Your concern for your family is wonderful and shows so much love and gratitude. Do not pester them but place them in God’s care, remembering that he loves each of them infinitely.


This is true. But what if when we get to heaven, we find out that the ones we loved dearly are now in Hell. It is too late to pray for them at that point, since they are tormented forever by everlasting fire. I am very much afraid of fire, even the smallest amount is painful to the touch. Now imagine an everlasting plunge into eternal fire which never extinguishes. How can a person possibly be happy in heaven, knowing that this was the fate of his loved ones? One unrepented mortal sin can send a person to hell, No? Suppose you decide not to go to Mass because you were scandalized by what was happening in your parish? There are so many examples on the internet. So it is happening.


We’re not to be held prisoner to those who haven’t chosen God.

Ultimately, we are in so much peace and joy with God, that we CAN’T feel sadness about those who haven’t chosen God.

You aren’t giving God enough credit here. He will know everything about anyone’s situation. All the person’s thoughts, intentions and background contexts. More than the person involved. His judgement will be utterly just.


I hope so. However, I was told that only one unrepented mortal sin would send a person to Hell.


That is a consoling thought. One mortal sin and off to Hell we go.

Maybe the point is that we don’t know if someone actually committed a mortal sin. It takes knowledge of grave matter and doing it anyway. If one of those points is missing, it would not be mortal. That is why no one can really know someone else’s conscience. For someone who is/was Anglican was allowed to receive first Communion in the Catholic Church. It was probably not an issue at the time. Maybe it’s not one now. Of course it may help to rethink and review, regroup and consider if this is a good idea now, and perhaps the person in question could consider converting to Catholicism.


We send ourselves:


We would be tormented in heaven to know that our loved ones are not there. The Book of Revelations says that in heaven “old things shall be forgotten.” One way I’ve heard this interpreted is that the memory of those lost souls would be struck from your memory, otherwise your eternity would be one of torture.

That verse might pertain to a lot of other things, like problems we might have had with other people who are in heaven. so, try to put these worries behind you – it doesn’t help worrying, does it?

TRUST JESUS. What more could you wish for than that the will of God would be fulfilled. Stay a practicing Catholic and pray and offer your trials and sufferings for others. When we say the LORD’s prayer, we are praying FOR EVERYBODY. When we say “forgive US OUR trespasses” we mean EVERYBODY – Jews Muslims Buddhists atheist, everybody, your family, etc.

Yes, there’s a world out there that needs Christ.


If your family members are good people, why would you think God would send them to hell? The God that would do that is not a God I could call just.


Staranthology: by any chance are you struggling with anxiety or depression in general or are you just distressed over this particular situation with your parents? Because while we have our daily concerns and things that distress us – if we are anxious or depressed otherwise, that can make these problems even worse. Your description of a breakdown and catatonic fear is raising red flags to me as to whether or not you’re also dealing with untreated depression or anxiety. I could be wrong but I’ve been through this before, which is why I’m concerned and raising the question.

Pray for your family daily and entrust them to God. He is the perfect and just judge of hearts.


Is my family good, though? Romans 3:10-11 seems to say that they aren’t. What it boils down to is this: God is free to punish as severely as He sees fit. His justice does not nullify His mercy, though.


I was taught that most people will end up in hell, however, after death one comes to a knowledge and understanding of God’s perfect plan and justice and those in heaven are content with the fate of every soul because it’s according to God’s plan.


By who?



Surely you meant to write ‘By whom?’



Yes, it is disturbing. But the Most Holy Trinity allowed us free will.

1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. …

324 The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life.

Outside the Church there is no salvation:
847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.337

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