The Church teaches that those unfortunate souls who do not go straight to Heaven, but are fortunate enough to avoid the fires of Hell, are in Purgatory. In Purgatory, they will suffer for their past transgressions until their souls have been purified, perfected, and made worthy to enter into Heaven. For some souls, Purgatory is a pit-stop, for others a temporary home.
While in Purgatory, souls rely on the prayers of the faithful here on Earth to help guide them along in their purification. Without these prayers, they become stuck.
Eventually what will happen is a soul who is in Purgatory will have no living relatives on Earth who remember them due to decades passing by and generational gaps. They become forgotten and are left in the torments of Purgatory, waiting…
Because we are able to pray for the repose of their souls, we should pray for them as often as we can. In addition to praying for those souls by name, we should include all deceased relatives in our blood line in our prayers. You can be certain your deceased relatives are prayed for, even the ones who you have never met.
Many of us are far from perfect and by the grace of God will depend on Purgatory. Ending up in Purgatory is why we must stand vigilant in our prayer and stay strong in the face of temptation. Only one mortal sin is enough to send us to Hell.
Attend confession as often as needed. Confess your sins, both mortal and venial in type and number regularly. Make frequent confession a habit.
Make prayer a daily habit. Pray the rosary daily and invest yourself in the Brown Scapular. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel mentions she will assist you and guide you out of Purgatory if you are devoted to her Brown Scapular.
Remember, our time on Earth is short. Pray for souls in Purgatory and teach your children to do the same. If you are fortunate enough to end up in Purgatory, you will need all the prayers you can get. Unlike the souls in Hell, the hope you will have is Heaven is on the other side.