I am about to be married to my wonderful fiancé, but my heart is troubled. Must I go to the cemetery to invite the souls of my deceased parents to the wedding, though they both abused me as a child—both physically and emotionally? Maybe I can forgive them for the beatings, but I cannot find forgiveness in my heart for the emotional abuse, which continued well into my adulthood years. My childhood haunts me and has continued to give me great pain, in spite of professional help and much prayer.


First, I’d like to wish you a warm mazal tov! May you and your fiancé share many years of happiness and meaning, enjoying a Jewish home based on Torah values.

As a child, you experienced neglect and abuse at the hands of the ones who should have shown you the most caring, attention and love. It is no wonder that you continue to be haunted by those horrific memories.

I am not sure how many years have gone by since your parents passed away. But their blemished souls, by now, have surely undergone the painful purifications of the Hereafter, which comes with the soul’s keen realization of the gravity of its misdeeds (for more on this topic, see I’m scared of going to hell . . .). Surely, their souls were filled with bitter remorse for their deplorable behavior. And surely, by now their hot tears of contrition have scoured away their dark stains. If they were able to communicate with you today, they would certainly express their remorse and beg for forgiveness.

Just one thing now stands in the way of complete divine forgiveness—that is the forgiveness that only you, their child and victim, can give.

I encourage you to focus your thoughts on the gift of life your parents gave you, and whatever other goodness they showed you.

A wedding is such a very special time. With the union of two souls, G‑d forgives the bride and groom for all their past misdeeds. I hope that by the time your wedding arrives, you will find it in your heart to forgive your parents, and to welcome their presence at your wedding.

It may help, too, to take up the regular study of Chassidism. The divine light that shines through its teachings is very therapeutic, and would greatly complement the professional counseling you receive.

To understand the benefits of forgiving those who have wronged us, I would encourage you to read Do we need to forgive those who wrong us?

You also might want to check out our Jewish Marriage section. This section will give you the Jewish perspective on everything from finding a soulmate (which apparently you’ve successfully managed already), to the wedding ceremony, to marital harmony.

Rabbi Eliezer Danzinger for