From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 14 – How to forgive people in practical terms – some advice on what to do and how to go about it
Some people struggle with bitterness towards a parent who has wronged them, perhaps long ago. The wounds from that can be especially deep, because a parent has a unique position, from which they can do terrible harm. Thankfully, I have no personal experience of any mistreatment by my parents. So, I have nothing to forgive.
However, those who have had bad experiences and choose to harbour bitterness towards a parent rather than forgive them, do great additional harm to themselves. The bitterness causes serious problems in itself, which is bad enough. However it also prevents the person from honouring their father and mother, as God commands us all to do in the fifth commandment:
12“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.Exodus 20:12 (NASB)
There are specific blessings that come from honouring our parents, even if we feel they have harmed us. That being so, there are all the more reasons to forgive our parents and to seek to be reconciled with them, where possible, while they are still alive. However, even if the parent is dead, you can still make a decision to forgive them and to honour them.
Their death does not take away the need to forgive them, or the ability to do so. Indeed, that is true of any person who has died. You can still tell God that you forgive that person, and release them to Him, and you should do so. You will benefit from it.