How to Release Bitterness toward an Abuser who Died

Although you cannot confront your abuser in person, you can confront him/her indirectly by saying what you would want to say or need to say as though your abuser is in front of you. This is not a process of talking to the dead, but a process to help you to release that person…

  • In Gestalt Therapy therapists use the “chair technique.” Imagine the person seated in a chair placed in front of you. Say the things you would say to the person if you were actually seated across a table from one another. Express your feelings about what was done to you and the ramifications it has had on your life. Then if you are ready, you can forgive the person and explain that you have taken the person off of your emotional hook and release him/her into God’s hands.
  • Write a letter to your abuser stating every painful memory and read it over the person’s grave or at a place where you can openly “speak” to the person as though you were in each other’s presence. Then at the close, choose to forgive by releasing your abuser into the hands of God. To add to the symbolism, you can burn the letter near the graveside to indicate the finality of the process.
  • Make a list of all painful as well as positive memories. After completing the list, go back to the beginning and write the word “past” by each memory. Acknowledge and accept that the past is in the past. Release all the pain as well as the person into the hands of God.

The fact that your abuser has died does not mean that you cannot forgive and thereby prevent bitterness from establishing a foothold in your heart and mind. The Bible says,

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15)