At most burials that I have attended, I have noticed that the mourners, and frequently the rav and other friends ask forgiveness from the dead person for any sins they have caused them. Is it the occasion of the burial itself (i.e., death) that can offer forgiveness? If not, how does this work? How can a dead person forgive someone if he is dead?
it's not that the dead person forgives but rather that you do your best and God absolves you. As the Chovot Halevavot writes in the Gate of Repentance ch.9-10
But for the sins towards G-d and man, it will be difficult to repent for several reasons:
- He may not be able to find the person he oppressed, or the person died or moved far away...
What strategy should be adopted by one for whom repentance is difficult? We will answer this question as follows
Whatever category it belongs to, if the repentance is difficult due to one of the factors we previously mentioned which cause repentance to be difficult, then if the person takes on himself to fulfill the requirements of repentance with all its conditions to the utmost extent that is in his power and ability to do, then the Creator will make his repentance easier, and will pardon what is hidden from him and not in his ability to do, and will give him a nearer exit for deliverance from his sin and allow him to absolve himself in this way...
If the oppressed died, he should return the money to his heirs. If he hurt him physically or he spoke badly of him, he should confess at his grave with a minyan of ten Jews and he will be forgiven for his sin, as our sages on this matter said: "And if he had died, he should bring ten persons and make them stand by his grave and say: I have sinned against the L-ord, the G-d of Israel, and against this man, whom I have hurt." (Yoma 87a).