Mourning the death of a beloved parent is normal and even considered healthy. However, what happens when the parent we lost was someone who hurt us?
The death of an abusive parent can evoke a myriad of emotions. In fact, one might say that the deaths of people we had complicated relationships with often evoke more emotions than those of people we were friendly with. This is because aside the grief we experience when these people die, other emotions we feel, such as regret, anger, or even relief, can throw us in a state of confusion.
Depending on the type and severity of the abuse we suffered at their hands, these feelings can compound and become overwhelming. When most people hear the word “abuse,” their first thoughts are usually physical abuse or sexual abuse. However, abuse can come in many different forms.
Forms Of Abuse
There are various forms of abuse. However, in this article, we will be talking about the 4 major types of abuse. Every form of abuse is traumatizing, and even more so if the abuser is someone who should be our haven. As such, having abusive parents is detrimental to us and will affect virtually all areas of our lives.
This is because our parents are supposed to be a safe space for us; they are supposed to be people we can trust. However, when our parents abuse us, we feel more betrayed than we would feel if we were being abused by strangers.
1. PHYSICAL ABUSE
This is the most common type of domestic abuse. Physical abuse is any action that inflicts physical harm or injury on another person.
Physical abuse can occur in the following ways:
- Punching, kicking, slapping, and hitting
- Using weapons to inflict bodily injuries
- Forcing the victim to abuse substances
- Controlling the victim's medication or denying them access to medical attention
- Damaging one's property
- Invading one's physical space
Basically, physical abuse is the different ways someone can be made physically unsafe. Some physically abusive parents might not have gone to the extremes listed above, but that doesn't make their actions any less of an abuse. For instance, a parent that throws things at you when angered is also a physically abusive parent.
2. EMOTIONAL ABUSE
This can also be called psychological or mental abuse, and it usually involves words. Emotional abuse occurs when the victim is subjected to mental and emotional manipulations that negatively affect their mental state. Emotional abuse form scars that usually take longer to heal.
Furthermore, unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse isn't easy to notice, and the victims might not even know that they are being abused.
Emotional abuse can come in the following forms:
- Abusive words or insults
- Humiliation, degradation, intimidation, or isolation of the person
- Actions that negatively affect the person's sense of worth
- Blaming the person for every negative thing
- Inciting fear through different acts, like stalking or yelling at them
- Showing extreme jealousy and obsessive control over the victim's actions
Emotionally abusive parents criticize their children over every little thing; they impose their will on their children, threaten them, and even go as far as manipulating them. One way they manipulate their children is by guilt-tripping them or reminding their children that they couldn't survive without them or their support.
3. SEXUAL ABUSE
Sexual abuse isn't limited to just sexual intercourse; it also has to do with lording one's power and control over the victim sexually, and it usually involves both physical and emotional abuse.
Sexual abuse can come in various forms:
- Having non-consensual sex with the victim
- Manipulating the victim into having protected or unprotected sex
- Having sex with the victim while they are drunk or unaware
- Making someone have sex with other people against their will
- Inflicting physical injuries on someone during sex
- Harassing someone sexually by looking at them inappropriately or making sexual innuendos or jokes about them
4. CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT
Child abuse is another form of domestic abuse, which occurs when a child is maltreated by an adult. It is all-encompassing in that it can involve physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
No matter what kind of abuse one has suffered or is suffering, dealing with it is never a pleasant experience. What's more, it's hard to heal from the trauma.
Emotions One Might Feel After An Abusive Parent Dies
Scars from abuse inflicted by parents tend to run deeper and longer than scars inflicted by ordinary people. And if care is not taken, these scars might never heal but continue to fester into deep hurt, anger, and pain, which might make the victims lash out and become like their abusers. However, despite all the ill feelings we might have had toward parents who abused us, their deaths are bound to evoke some feelings. Below are some feelings one might experience when an abusive parent passes away.
The death of an abusive or toxic parent can make us angry for several reasons. For instance, you might be angry at yourself for grieving their death. Or you might be angry because their death didn't bring you the relief you expected it to. You might also be angry because they died before you could give them a piece of your mind.
Whatever the case, the death of an abusive parent usually leaves the victim with so many unsaid words. Thus, they might get angry at the unfairness of it all.
During this period, it can be easy for your anger to morph into rage, which can make it difficult to find closure. In the end, many things can cause anger to set in our hearts. However, it is important to find healthy ways to let go of this anger, as it can hinder our healing process.
This is one of the most expected emotions one can feel after the death of an abusive parent. After our abusive parents die, we feel safe and relieved that they are no longer alive to hurt us. However, this feeling is usually accompanied by other feelings, such as guilt, numbness, and confusion.
Our guilt can result from certain complicated emotions we might be feeling. For instance, you might feel guilty about being relieved at the death of a fellow human being. Similarly, you might feel empty when you realize you do not have anyone to direct your anger or hurt at anymore.
If your parents abused you when you were a child or an adult, you might have felt rage and hatred toward them for a long time. However, with their death, you will have no place to direct such feelings, so they might end up dissipating and leave you feeling empty.
Other complexities of your toxic relationship with your parents may also emerge, and you may experience various emotions, which may frustrate you. So while the death of your abusive parent might cause you to feel some form of relief, you should expect other turbulent emotions to follow.
Losing an abusive parent will evoke a barrage of emotions. Some of them will be clear to you; others might not be. This indescribable mix of emotions can leave you floundered and confused.
You will likely experience several intense feelings at once, from relief that they can no longer hurt you, to guilt for feeling good about their death, to rage or anger over all the unsaid words and unresolved emotions.
Experiencing all these feelings at once can be overwhelming and confusing. However, it would be best if you did not beat yourself over any of the emotions you feel. After all, they are all valid. All you need to do is take your time to sort them out and start your journey to healing.
Categorizing the feelings one experiences after the death of an abusive parent can be difficult. In fact, you might need to sit down to properly sort them out. If you do so, one emotion you might discover during your self-examination is pity.
After an abusive parent dies, it's possible to feel pity for yourself and also for them. This pity usually stems from the idea of what could have been but hadn't. Even though your relationship with your parent was toxic, a part of you would still yearn for the beautiful parent-child relationship you never had with them.
The deaths of the abusive parent brings an air of finality to our yearnings. This can make us pity ourselves for never getting the chance to experience everything we could have had with them, like the beautiful relationship they never had with us.
Another feeling that one might experience after the death of a toxic parent is regret. You may feel regret because of certain words and feelings that you never got the chance to express to them. You may also feel regret because you wanted to clear the air before their death but couldn't bring yourself to forgive them and seek closure.
However, you should not feel too bad. You probably were not ready for that part of the healing process yet. What's important is that you let go of your regrets and heal.
People are often surprised when they feel grief over the death of an abuser. However, this is normal.
You, too, can feel grief over the death of an abusive parent due to several reasons, like the happy childhood you never had, the memories you never made, and a future with a supportive parent, which you will not get to experience again.
Other Feelings Or Questions You Might Have
SHOULD I ATTEND THE FUNERAL?
Attending the funeral of someone who abused you is not an easy feat. It will subject you to various emotions that you might not be ready for. Nevertheless, there is no wrong or right answer to this question.
Deciding to attend your abuser's funeral is a choice you should make only if you are comfortable doing so. You may choose to attend the funeral to find closure. But if you are not ready to experience the whiplash of emotions that might come with it, then it's okay to not attend the funeral. If you still want to see them later, you can visit their graves.
It is also important to consider other factors. If you decide not to attend the funeral, some people who know about the relationship between the both of you might understand your absence. Others who don't might not understand. Regardless, you're the one who knows what you've been through; therefore, you are in the best place to make the right decision for yourself, and no one should make you feel guilty over any choice you might make.
WHAT SHOULD I SAY WHEN PEOPLE TELL ME THEY ARE SORRY FOR MY LOSS?
Even if you choose not to attend the funeral to avoid having to answer difficult questions, certain people will still want to offer you their condolences. It is simply unavoidable.
When someone offers you their condolences, it might be tempting to blurt out some harsh truth about how your parent really treated you; however, you should resist the urge to do so because this would only lead to more complications and questions, which will not help your healing process.
Still, you should still give answers that you're comfortable sharing. You could decide not to say anything and nod your head while appreciating the people offering their condolences.
It is also possible to answer truthfully without revealing much. To do this, you could reply with vague sentences like “Thank you. They were such a presence in my life,” “Life will feel so different without them,” or “Their absence will be noticed.”
Do not feel pressured to give replies that you are not comfortable with all in the name of saving face. Do whatever feels right to you without revealing too much. And, frankly speaking, no one has the right to know your story if you're not willing to share.
SHOULD I SHOW RESPECT FOR THEM NOW THAT THEY ARE DEAD?
If you had a toxic relationship with your parents before they passed away, you most likely didn't respect them when they were alive. While others might have respected them thinking they were good people, you knew better than to share the same sentiments.
Showing respect to your abusive parents is a choice only you can make. You're the only one who knows what you had to go through, so it would not be fair to impose expectations on you.
People often think showing respect for a dead relative means going to their funeral, bawling your eyes out, and all that. However, it goes deeper than that. While there are various ways to respect your dead parents who abused you, one of the best ways to do this is by choosing to remember only their good parts.
Of course, this is easier said than done, but not only is it an excellent way to respect the memory of your parents; it is also a significant step in your healing journey. This doesn't mean you shouldn't remember the hurtful parts, it is to say that you choose to let go of the hurts and pains and instead remember the joy and happiness.
Should you choose to show respect for them, you could carry out some introspection and figure out what works best for you and would mean the most to you. Likewise, should you choose not to want to show your respects, that is okay, too. As we said, it is a personal choice.
WHAT SHOULD I SAY TO MY SURVIVING PARENT WHO IS STILL GRIEVING THE LOSS OF MY OTHER PARENT?
It is possible that only one of your parents abused you. This can make the barrage of emotions more complicated, as you might have mixed feelings.
Depending on your relationship with your surviving parent, you might have different things to say to them. If you are on good terms with them, you could be there for them while they mourn this other person, or if that's too much for you to handle, you could always communicate with them via text or chat.
You could also support and look out for them while still looking out for yourself. Getting them condolence gifts such as personalized memorial items, cremation urns, remembrance items, or keepsakes can also help. Here are some helpful tips for picking the perfect condolence gift.
If your relationship with the other parent isn't too cordial, you could treat them how you would treat a fairly distant relative. Offer them your condolences and support them in any way that is not detrimental to you.
What Are The Differences Between Grieving The Death Of A Parent You Love & Grieving The Death Of An Abusive Parent?
The grief of losing a loved one is different from the grief we experience after the death of an abusive parent, though there might be some similarities.
HONORING THEM VS. NOT HONORING THEM
One major difference is that it is easy to honor and cherish the memories of a loved one by visiting their favorite places, opening a foundation in their name, and so on. But how do you honor the memories of an abusive parent?
One of the most effective ways you can do this is by breaking the cycle of abuse. Make an intentional decision to do your best not to treat others the way you were treated. People who suffered at the hands of abusers know firsthand how hurtful it is. So honor your abusive parent by ensuring you never treat others the way they treated you.
This includes everyone, especially your children if you choose to have any. Shower them with the love and acceptance you didn't have the opportunity to enjoy. Doing this will honor your parent, validate your experiences, and help you progress in your healing journey.
LOVE & LOSS VS. ANGER & RELIEF
Losing a loved one will remind you of how much you loved them and resurface all the good memories you shared with them. However, it can also remind you of what you've lost.
On the other hand, losing an abusive parent will likely inspire contradicting emotions that might be hard to place. You may be angry due to several reasons, like failure to adequately express yourself and say all the things you had wanted to say when they were alive; you may be so angry at yourself for feeling sad. But at the same time, you may feel a contradicting feeling of relief that they are no longer around to hurt you.
PEACE VS. RESENTMENT & UNFULFILLMENT
When an abusive parent dies, one emotion you will likely feel is unfulfillment. This could be due to any reason, like remorse for the wonderful childhood you never had or the lost opportunity to get closure from them while they were still alive.
Losing a loved one is also painful, but there will hardly be any feelings of resentment, and if there are, they might come from a mild feeling of betrayal that the deceased abandoned you. Though after some introspection, this feeling might go away.
Feeling peace when a loved one dies doesn't mean we are glad they died, but, rather, we are grateful for the beautiful lives they led, and we are convinced that they are in a better place. This is another difference between grieving a beloved parent and grieving an abusive one.
BEING SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE WHO LOVED THE DECEASED VS. WANTING TO BE ALONE
Another difference between losing a loved parent and losing an abusive one is how we want our immediate surroundings to be. We will either prefer to stay alone or stay with other people who knew them. When processing the death of a loved one, many people would want to be around others who knew the deceased well enough to tell positive stories about them.
However, losing a parent who abused you might make you want some time alone to sort out your feelings, especially because hearing others say nice things about them can be painful.
So far, from everything we've discussed, it is glaring that grieving the death of an abusive parent is a complicated phase. So how then can you help yourself get through it?
How To Get Through The Death Of An Abusive Parent
Listed below are some helpful tips to help get you through the death of an abusive parent.
RECOGNIZE YOUR FEELINGS
It might be tempting to deny your feelings and try to ignore them, but don't do this. Recognizing and accepting your feelings is one of the first steps to healing.
Understand that all of your feelings are valid and that in this kind of situation, there is no right or wrong feeling. Also, recognize that you are not alone in this; other people are likely going through something similar. Knowing this can help your healing journey, but we'll talk about that later in the article.
It is also important to understand that you aren't responsible for how your parents treated you. No excuse is justifiable, so try not to come up with excuses like “I was probably a difficult child,” “It was a difficult time for them, too,” etc.
No matter how stubborn a person is, or what the other person is going through, nothing ever justifies abuse. Absolutely nothing.
When you finally recognize, understand, and accept these feelings, you can move on to the next step.
FEEL THE GRIEF
You might be confused about the grief you feel for this person and might want to bury it, saying they don't deserve it, but, please, don't do this. Refusing to accept and feel your grief is unhealthy. Instead of denying your grief, make an effort to acknowledge it and consider why you are feeling it.
This will help you further process their death and help you move on and achieve closure. One effective way to acknowledge your grief is by journaling it or writing a letter to document your grieving process. You don't need to show these journals to anyone else, so feel free to pour your heart out.
GO TO THERAPY
Therapy is an effective way to heal from this kind of grief. Having someone you can talk freely with will significantly help you. You can find therapists who specialize in this kind of grief or find a support system for people in this exact situation.
We mentioned earlier that one of the ways to deal with your feelings is by acknowledging them and knowing that you are not alone. Finding a support group and hearing other people's stories will help you realize that you are not alone and also give you some insight you can learn from.
TALK WITH YOUR SPIRITUAL LEADER
Your spiritual beliefs can also help your healing process. Most religions practice forgiveness and letting go, which is essential in your healing journey.
Talking to your spiritual leader will further give you a sense of calmness, clear any misgivings about your feelings, and help you let go and heal.
TALK WITH FRIENDS OR RELATIVES WHO UNDERSTAND AND ARE WILLING TO HELP
You need all the help and support you can get at this point in your life. If you have close friends or relatives who understand what you've gone through, have a chat with them to express your thoughts and listen to theirs.
They will be there to give you the support you need and lend a listening ear whenever you need to talk. Having friends and relatives with whom you can be free can be healing and refreshing.
ENGAGE IN ACTIVITIES THAT HELP YOU THROUGH STRESSFUL SITUATIONS
Dealing with the death of an abusive parent can be physically, emotionally, and mentally tasking. So you must try to release any tension that might have accumulated. You can do this by engaging in activities that help you, like going for a walk, treating yourself to dinner, watching a movie, etc. In essence, engage in activities that can help you unwind.
You can also leave your environment for a less toxic one. This will allow you to grieve, heal, and sort out your feelings at your own pace without fear of judgment or inclination.
PRIORITIZE SELF CARE
It is easy to become depressed during the grieving process, but you should take conscious steps to avoid this. Make self-care a priority and take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health during this period.
You can take care of your physical health by eating and following a healthy diet, exercising, driking water regularly and not skipping meals. Try yoga or go out for walks. To take care of your mental and emotional health, banish negative thoughts, think positively, engage in healthy conversations or join a support group.
It is also essential to know when to ask for help. You do not have to go through this complicated process alone. When it becomes overwhelming, seek the services of a professional therapist who specializes in situations like this. You could also talk to other people who understand and are willing to lend a listening ear.
Forgiving the people who hurt us might be one of the hardest things we might ever do, however, it is an incredibly helpful step in your healing journey. You should however also note that this step isn't mandatory. Forgiveness doesn't come easy and there are some things we can't just bring ourselves to forgive. Deciding whether to forgive or not forgive the parent that abused you will give you some form of solace and further help you get through your confusion.
REMEMBER THE GOOD TIMES & PRESERVE THEM
Even though the memories of your abusive parent will mostly be painful, there might still be some good memories that you can hold on to. Perhaps they are no longer vivid in your mind's eyes, but you might still vaguely remember them.
For instance, it could be a birthday party you had when you were little. There might be photos of you and them smiling hard at the camera.
You could preserve this memory by having a making photo engraved items with the photo. You could also make memorial portraits from the picture so that the memories are always preserved. Fingerprint keepsakes are another creative way to preserve these happy memories.
Death Of Abusive Parent Frequently Asked Questions
Should I attend the funeral of an abusive parent?
Attending the funeral of the person who abused you is your choice to make, and so there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Your choice to attend the funeral will depend on you and your emotional state at that period. However, you should ensure you're making the best choice for yourself. For some people, attending the funeral is a way to reach closure and leave all the painful memories behind them. Others might discover that attending the funeral can resurface many painful memories that they would rather not deal with. In the end, only you can decide whether you should attend the funeral of your abusive parent.
What should I say when people say they are sorry for my loss?
Condolence messages are a vital part of funeral ceremonies and cannot be avoided. To reply to condolence messages like this, you could choose not to reply and smile while thanking them for coming.
If you feel the need to say something or share your opinions, it might be better to do so without giving away anything.
Using sentences like “Thank you. Their absence will definitely be felt,” or “Thank you. They were such a presence in my life” is an excellent way to reply without giving out information that you might not be willing to share.
Should I show respect for them now that they are dead?
Complicated questions relating to grief do not have straightforward answers. Only the victim is capable of giving the best answer. However, here are our tips for answering such questions.
It is up to you to decide whether to show them respect or not. Should you choose to show respect, there are various ways you can do this. One of the most effective ways is by breaking the chain of abuse. However, if you choose not to show respect or do anything, that is also okay.
What do I say to my surviving parent who is still grieving the loss of the other parent?
This answer to this question depends on the type of relationship you have with them. If you are somewhat close to them, you can offer them your condolences and try to be there for them in the any way you can. However, if it is hard for you to be with them physically, you could always share your condolences via handwritten letters, calls, or texts. Remember that you also have to prioritize your mental health too. It wouldn't be fair to you and your other parent if you suffered while trying to help.
If your relationship with them isn't so deep, you may respectfully offer your condolences as you would do if they were a distant relative.
How do I deal with the death of an abusive parent?
Dealing with the death of an abusive parent is never easy. There will always be a deluge of confusing emotions and feelings to deal with. However, you must remember to prioritize yourself so as not to set back your healing process.
Here are some helpful tips for dealing with the death of an abusive parent:
- Acknowledge your feelings: Don't try to ignore or deny any of your feelings. Acknowledging them is the first step in your healing process.
- Let the grief and other emotions wash over you:Just like the way water washes over us during a shower and leaves us refreshed after, let any emotions you feel wash over you and run their course. Don't try to rush the process. Give it time.
- Express yourself The barrage of emotions you feel during this process can become overwhelming; when it does, you should find people you can express yourself to. These could be your friends, relatives, therapist, or spiritual leader.
Should I show remorse at the death of my abusive parent?
Showing remorse after the death of an abusive parent is a personal choice. However, you should be true to your feelings. If you feel remorse, then it's okay to show it and vice versa. Staying true to your feelings will help prevent another form of regret from coming up at a later time. Following these tips above will help you through your healing process.
Healing After The Loss Of An Abusive Parent
The emotions one experiences after losing an abusive parent cannot be likened to those one feels after losing a parent they loved. It is a complicated form of grief and must be treated as such. Give yourself time to sort out your feelings; don't rush the healing process, and, remember, it is important to break the cycle of abuse.
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June 11, 2022 by Frances Kay
Discover how you might feel when an abusive parent dies including tips to cope with their death and ways to gain a sense of closure.
The death of an abusive or toxic parent can create a complicated grieving process from the very start.. Still, the whole experience of losing an abusive parent differs from the death of a parent when the relationship was caring.. When you’re dealing with the death of a parent during adulthood and your parent was abusive, you might experience a complex grief response.. One of the first things you might feel after the death of an abusive parent is a sense of relief that they're no longer alive to hurt you.. Feeling relieved after the death of a parent who has hurt you or created a toxic relationship between you two may be short-lived as other complexities of your relationship start to emerge throughout your grief journey.. You might also feel angry that the abusive parent's death didn't bring the relief you expected it to.. The emotional effects of abuse can sometimes manifest as intense anger after a toxic parent's death without any resolution in sight.. Although you might grieve the relationship that you never had with them, feeling relief, anger, and confusion are all healthy emotions that help you cope with the death of an abusive parent.. There's nothing shameful in the way you feel, and every one of these emotions is valid in light of the emotional abuse endured at the hands of an abusive parent.. You may feel like you’re unable to begin the healing process when an abusive or toxic parent dies, making it challenging to cope with their loss.. When trying to heal from the complex trauma created by your abusive or toxic parent, it's challenging to make sense of everything you’re thinking and feeling.. Seek alternative ways of finding hope and joy in your life, separate from the toxic environment created by your abusive parent, as a catalyst for healing.. Finding solace in forgiveness can help your bereavement process after the death of an abusive parent.. Emotional responses to the death of an abusive parent can make it challenging to honor or remember them when they die.
Mourning the death of a beloved parent is normal and even considered healthy. However, what happens when the parent we lost was someone who hurt us?The death of an abusive parent can evoke a myriad of emotions. In fact, one might say that the deaths of people we had complicated relationships with of...
Furthermore, unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse isn't easy to notice, and the victims might not even know that they are being abused.. Emotional abuse can come in the following forms:. This is one of the most expected emotions one can feel after the death of an abusive parent.. If you decide not to attend the funeral, some people who know about the relationship between the both of you might understand your absence.. Even if you choose not to attend the funeral to avoid having to answer difficult questions, certain people will still want to offer you their condolences.. It is possible that only one of your parents abused you.. Showing remorse after the death of an abusive parent is a personal choice.
I didn’t think you were close to your mom. From what you‘ve told me about your dad, I would think you would be glad he’s dead. Have you ever heard those words spoken to someone whose abusive parent…
Have you ever heard those words spoken to someone whose abusive parent died?. It’s natural for an outsider to think those thoughts when they hear an abusive parent died.. Yet for the child of an abuser, regardless of their age, there is still grief.. For the average person, the loss of a parent is a loss of memories.. For the loving family, there is a desire and expectation of making even more happy memories in the future with that loved one who is now gone.. Abusive families miss what they never had.. For many people, the death of their abusive parent creates an external dilemma.. All these thoughts may run through your mind when your parent dies.. You have to find your own personal closure but that does not necessarily mean you have to attend the funeral.. Make arrangements with the funeral home to view the body before or after regular visiting hours so you avoid family and have a few private moments to speak your mind to the deceased.. My father was an alcoholic, very physically abusive to my brothers and mother and sexually abusive to all his children.. It reflects my reaction to my own father’s death.. Your father died this morning.” She added kindly, “You can use my office if you would like to be alone for a few minutes.”
"I didn’t think you were close to your mom." "From what you‘ve told me about your dad, I would think you would be glad he’s dead." Have you ever heard those words spoken to someone whose...
Have you ever heard those words spoken to someone whose abusive parent died?. It’s natural for an outsider to think those thoughts when they hear an abusive parent died.. For the average person, the loss of a parent is a loss of memories.. For the loving family, there is a desire and expectation of making even more happy memories in the future with that loved one who is now gone.. For the survivor, the death of their abuser is a final loss of hope that there will ever be the creation of happy memories.. For many people, the death of their abusive parent creates an external dilemma.. All these thoughts may run through your mind when your parent dies.. You have to find your own personal closure but that does not necessarily mean you have to attend the funeral.. Yes, some will think you are the bad guy; that you dishonored your parent by not even attending their funeral.. Make arrangements with the funeral home to view the body before or after regular visiting hours so you avoid family and have a few private moments to speak your mind to the deceased.. He attended weddings and feasts and he raised people from the dead but he did not attend a funeral.. We are told to honor our fathers and mothers but that simply means to live your life in such a way that it would bring honor to them if they were deserving of honor.. There are three basic feelings toward an abuser who has passed: Love, hate, or conflicted feelings.. My father was an alcoholic, very physically abusive to my brothers and mother and sexually abusive to all his children.
How does the death of the abuser affects the survivor of abuse?
How does the death of the abuser affects the survivor of abuse?. For example, we understand that mourning for the loss of a child often has different characteristics than the process that the same person would experience for the loss of a grandfather.. When the abuser is a family member, as occurs in the 10% of children who are estimated to be victims of physical abuse in Spain (Pereda, 2018), the social norm seems to require that the victim, who at the same time becomes a bereaved, experience sadness and great pain at the loss of your family member.. (Elison & McGonigle, 2003) As a result of the apparent social inadequacy of this sense of relief associated with the death of the relative, the victim will feel guilt, a social guilt that will prevent him from expressing his emotions, since he assumes that quite possibly the others are not prepared to accept the relief as an acceptable response in a grieving process .. It turns out that in the event that the deceased is the abuser, many risk factors come together , since obviously the relationship was, at best, ambivalent, the abuse itself causes psychological trauma and, in addition, as we saw before, the social norm does not allow us to count with the necessary support.. Especially, the emotional dissociation mechanisms, which can be very installed, will contribute to the victim having much more difficulties in processing the loss and not connecting with their emotions , feeling a flat spirit.. From an attachment point of view, when the abuser is a caregiver, the victim will most likely develop a disorganized attachment style (Baer & Martínez, 2006), which also makes things more difficult for him to identify their own emotions and establish healthy intimate bonds that support the grieving process.. Child Sexual Abuse Survivors’ Grief Experiences After the Death of the Abuser.. Death studies, 27(7), 641-651.
“I don’t really know what I feel.. However, even in the case of a parent having multiple children; one child being loved and cared for doesn’t take away from another child being abused or unloved.. So what is a child to do?. This, sadly, is the twist that those grieving abusive and unloving parents feel; though the parent may have abandoned the relationship long ago, the child may still want the parent to change, wanting that love, even if it hasn’t ever been felt, somehow proving it is there after all.. Which is a certain protectiveness that children, even of abusive parents, painfully demonstrate.. The feelings of grief then, is that in death, that parent can no longer change and learn to do right by their children; a possible loving parental relationship is forever ended; a loving childhood has never, and will never, come to be.
“Don’t speak ill of the dead.” I’m sure you’ve heard that saying at some point in your life. I’ve heard it for decades and wondered where that phrase came from. I found the origins of this saying date back to Roman times. In Latin the phrase is: “De mortuis nil nisi bonum.” People used to […]
Every day an abuser or abandoner dies, but their victims don’t talk about what they suffered and what this death means to them.. We need to talk about it, though, because when the phone rings to tell you that your abuser has died, you can suddenly find yourself back in the moment as the child who was abandoned, the wife who was abused, or the victim who was raped.. I offer these suggestions below based on my own experience of working with victims of abuse or abandonment in situations of the death of their abuser or the abandoner.. If you are the victim of abuse or abandonment and you have just learned that your abuser/abandoner has died, please pick up the phone and call your closest friend or your therapist, if you have one, for help.. If you get a call from a friend in crisis, I offer the following practical suggestions of actions you can take that might help alleviate some of your friend’s pain and suffering, and give them support in those first moments, days or weeks after a death.. If you are caring for a friend who is going through this experience of a death of an abuser or abandoner, please consider the following suggestions as guidelines for your friend who is in crisis.. And yes, that is actually a real life response a young man in crisis got from a friend the day after his abuser died.. Abusers and abandoners die every day, and their victims need to be able to talk about what happened to them, without being judged, to people who will listen and be present with them and care for them.
People often are surprised when they feel grief at the death of an abusive spouse or parent.
People often are surprised when they feel grief at the death of an abusive spouse or parent.. When an abuser dies or leaves the psychological loss can feel even more confusing.. So at the loss of the abuser she is really grieving the loss of the illusion she had created to survive.. So when an abusive parent dies, the grief they experience is the loss of the illusion of the “close” family.. Seldom is a person 100% bad or abusive all the time so grief may occur due to the loss of the good parts of the relationship.. So the loss of the object of the anger leads to feeling the more intense emotional pain associated with the abuse.. This grief is more indirectly related to the loss of the abuser because it is more about the losses caused by the abuse itself.. So often people feel there is something wrong with them for feeling so sad or even devastated by the loss especially since those around them don't understand why they are grieving.. So knowing that feeling grief at the loss of an abuser is normal can allow them to process the grief and move forward.. With grief they may believe “I didn't do enough” or “if only I had...” The thinking that leads to these feelings needs to be challenged by telling themselves again and again “I am not responsible for how this person treated me.” Although it is normal to feel grief for the reasons described above, the feelings of blame or shame are due to the abuse and need to be dispelled.
How do we honor an abusive parent? What responsibility do adult children have in regards to a relationship with their parents?
It would be so much easier if God had asked only that we honor our parents if they are good, kind and loving to us, but the command of Exodus 20:12 is “Honor your father and mother,” period.. Should we honor and obey an abusive parent?. Now for the big question: how do we obey God’s commandment to honor parents who behave with such cruelty toward their own children?. It will not be long before any child of God willing to trust Him will begin to sense the Holy Spirit at work in his heart.. If you find it difficult to forgive the wickedness of a parent’s behavior, talk to God about it.. A child of God going to his Father for help with something he cannot do for himself will find not an angry, threatening God waiting to punish him, but a Father with a heart full of overwhelming love, compassion, mercy and a desire to help.. So, what does honoring an abusive parent look like in real life?. A willingness to forgive honors both God and the parent.. Let go of expectations that your parent will ever be the parent you want him or her to be; replace your disappointment and sadness with acceptance of who the person is.. If it is safe to be in communication with your parent, establish wise boundaries to reduce sinful temptations for you and your parent.. Just as Jesus loved us in our sinful state, we can honor an abusive parent.. Return to:How do we honor an abusive parent?
When a toxic relative dies, the cemetery isn't always an easy place to bury the hatchet.
Siblings co-wrote a scathing remembrance of their mother that went viral. Friedman says rehashing tough memories in an obituary like Johnson-Reddick’s keeps survivors mired in pain and grief.. “They’re just confirming the pain that’s built in; the pain becomes their identity.. Some survivors of heinous abuse agree that holding onto hatred for the dead and publicly shaming them will not close the book on a lifetime of hurt.. Blanton agrees.
You survive, but the loss is forever.
My mother died.. I really don't have a mother.. Two years ago, I was having a regular phone call with my mother.. Above all else, I still wanted her to mother me, and I wanted it deeply, but it was that day that I realized she simply couldn't.. Tears for the mother I'd always wanted, the one I never got, for the pain I put her through in pulling away, for my own forever pain, tears of guilt, and also relief.. To my surprise, most of my loved ones had no idea the details of my relationship with my mother .. Some things I found to help were re-reading Susan Forward 's books, the support of my community, and, in an unexpected twist, a message left on my announcement of my mother's death.. A friend of my family of origin, whom I haven't seen or spoken to in years, left the following comment the day after my mother died:. YOU actually had a mother, a mother who, I saw that cared, a mother who didn't have their boyfriends and roommates physically abuse you!. As your brothers and I were teenagers and going through our own difficulties, YOUR mother and someone who I called mom, helped me through some extremely difficult times.. You say she was a horrible mother... she did nothing to you... you have no idea what MY own mother put me through.. As you probably won't give your brothers any condolences, remember that you will eternally regret the relationship that you should have had with YOUR mother before she passed!. The same message I'd received so many times from my mother, my biological family and their friends... all of that being thrown at me in the most painful moment of my life was like being transported into the black hole of my childhood depression.. To say that my mother was simply abusive wouldn't do her justice.. In her death, I've been able to embrace that my love for her didn't end with that phone call, and it doesn't stop with her death.
Are you wondering how you'll feel when a narcissistic parent dies? Discover common responses, tips, and more.
For many people, when their narcissistic parent dies, they feel an overwhelming sense of relief, at first.. Feeling relieved when a narcissistic parent dies is one of the most commonly shared grief reactions in those who've suffered with their toxic parent either in childhood or throughout their lifetimes.. Getting past the pain and trauma an abusive parent leaves behind can prove challenging after their death.. You may have already grieved your loss of not having a loving and caring parent throughout your lifetime.. Reaching out for support is vital to help cope with the loss of an abusive parent.. However, particular challenges come up when others don't see or acknowledge the parent's behavior towards the child.. When a loved one deals with the death of a narcissistic parent, anger and hurt may outweigh the ability to grieve.. It's essential to understand that adults and children need validation and support after suffering the loss of a narcissistic parent.
In this blog, we will; try to answer the question ‘Do you feel relief when a narcissistic parent dies?’. The blog further also looks at what happens when a
The blog further also looks at what happens when a narcissistic parent dies, sings of a narcissistic parent, and how to deal with the death of a narcissistic parent.. Your loss is something most people don’t understand.. The death of a narcissist adds a lot of complexity to the already difficult grief process.. Try not to judge how you feel.. We often think of the ideal parent as one who puts children’s needs first but someone who lacks empathy and perspective is likely going to have a much harder time, as they may struggle to recognize children’s needs and when those needs should be addressed.. The blog further also looks at what happens when a narcissistic parent dies, sings of a narcissistic parent, and how to deal with the death of a narcissistic parent.
When your husband or wife's parent dies, what can you do to truly help them? This is what to know about supporting them as they grieve.
What you can count on is that if your partner loses a parent, they will need your support, no matter what their relationship with the parent was like.. Here’s how you can help someone who is grieving.. Some people will withdraw into themselves, while others might throw themselves into completing tasks when a parent dies, Miers says.. “We don’t grieve for people we’re indifferent to.. “Don’t try to cheer them up, and don’t expect grief to happen on a timeline or follow the phases of grief,” Singley says.. “Sometimes when we say, ‘I’m here for you,’ we mean, ‘I’m here to do what I feel like I need to do for your grief,’” Kessler says.. Kessler says some people are “feeling grievers” and others are “practical grievers.” Feeling types traffic in feelings and work through them, whereas practical grievers don’t talk about or have much awareness of feelings.. Because people have individual perceptions, it can be difficult not to make assumptions about your partner’s grieving process or feelings about their parent if it’s different from yours.
We cannot stand idly by and allow abusive relationships to continue. We have to set boundaries, even if it is with our own parent.
Prior to the cutoff a few years ago, we had brief moments of not speaking — a month here, a few months there, but it never lasted because I felt guilty and always tried to patch things up.. See, when girls do things like go to prom, get married, and have babies, they should have their mother there.. With my prom, my mom convinced me to get ready with friends, so I wasn’t even home.. The only time I saw her during those nine months was at my baby shower.. Yet I still let her meet my son because she was my mother, and I held firmly to the hope that things would get better.. It was the birth of me saying “enough is enough.” Once I became firm in my decision, I started hearing people say, “But what if something happens to her, how will you feel?”. That is the million-dollar question when you end a relationship in anger.. I chose to end an abusive, toxic relationship.. I am so sad that I didn’t talk to my mom on the phone the night before she died.. I loved my mother.. But there was a time when I didn’t love myself enough to be free from her abuse.. She was never the mother I needed.
Sorrow, relief and guilt are just a few emotions that may come up when your estranged parent dies.
But grief experts agree that it’s common for people mourning the death of a parent with whom they didn’t have a strong relationship to confront an additional layer of complexity, like the one Schmidt described: the loss of the relationship that might have been.. That is very different from grieving the loss of the person themselves.”. “It’s like, ‘I can’t believe I feel that way about a person who died.’ But sometimes, it is a relief.”. To make it less taboo for people to be transparent about grief in the face of a strained parental relationship, friends and family should remain open to the wide, messy truth of that loss.. Avoid speaking in platitudes, Devine said, and if someone opens up about their difficult relationship, don’t make comparisons by saying anything along the lines of, “Well, at least he or she did or didn’t do XYZ.”. “The very first thing to do to support someone is to recognize that you’re not going to take their pain away,” Devine said.. If it’s a friend who has lost an estranged parent, say something like, “I want to acknowledge that I know your relationship wasn’t always great, and if things feel weird, I want you to know that I’m more than happy to listen.”. “Just today, I came across a photograph of my mother holding my then 6-week old daughter,” Schmidt said.. “The joy and love in my mom’s face is real.
There are many articles on parents with estranged adult children. This article however will touch on adult children with estranged parents. When people hea
When people hear about the loss or the impending loss of an estranged parent some people feel shocked and unprepared to experience the range of emotions of grief.. The loss may leave them mourning not only their estranged parents death but also the loss of an imaginary, what-may-have-been relationship.. They may assume that they were left out with evil intent when it’s possible that the family of the estranged parent has perceived the relationship to be so strained that the person wouldn’t want it communicated.. Even though the relationship with the parent wasn’t strong, the death involves someone who is a part of their lineage and the chance to learn about the other half of their family may be gone.. The death of the parent brings to mind ideas of how the relationship should have been.. After the loss, the dream for a better relationship remains only a dream, and in many cases people grieve the death of the dream rather than the loss of the person.. Some people experience apathy to the loss of the non-existent parent in their lives.. Regardless of whatever expectations they think society has placed on them for handling the loss of an estranged parent, they have experienced a loss and they are allowed to grieve.. “They were an awful person, why do you even care?” Invalidates the feelings of the grieving person.. When will you feel better?” Expectation for a timeline for grieving puts unnecessary pressure on the griever to just get over it and again reinforces that they aren’t allowed to express their emotions.. In this remarkable self-help guide, Dr. Susan Forward draws on case histories and the real-life voices of adult children of toxic parents to help you free yourself from the frustrating patterns of your relationship with your parents — and discover a new world of self-confidence, inner strength, and emotional independence.
Honoring an Abusive Parent. Children's Responsibilities to Parents. Jewish Parent Child Relationships. Jewish Family.
Such is the case with a son or daughter who must determine how to relate to an abusive parent.. But does this imperative extend to a parent who has been physically or emotionally abusive?. The Jewish tradition puts great emphasis on the honor a child should show his or her parents.. When working with the children of abusive parents, mental health professionals urge those children to make a careful separation from the abusive parent, for the sake of self-preservation.. To what extent, and in what ways, should a child show respect for such a parent?. If the child of an abusive parent lives up to Jewish society’s expectations of proper filial respect despite the emotional difficulty involved, he or she makes a powerful statement about the role of parenthood, one made all the more salient by the knowledge of friends and relatives that the relationship was a strained or even severed one.. That depends on the parent–if he repented of his crime, the children must try to return the property as an act of respect to the parent.
by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. Your mother or father has died. Whether you had a good, bad or indifferent relationship with the parent who died, your feelings for him […]
Whether you had a good, bad or indifferent relationship with the parent who died, your feelings for him or her were probably quite strong.. While everyone has unique feelings about the death of a parent, some of the more common emotions include:. You probably expected to feel sad when your parent died, but you may be surprised at the overwhelming depth of your feelings of loss.. You may also feel sad because the loss of a parent triggers secondary losses, such as the loss of a grandparent to your children.. If your parent was sick for a time before the death, you may well feel relief when he or she finally dies.. If you came from a dysfunctional or abusive family, you may well feel unresolved anger toward your dead parent.. If your relationship with your parent was rocky, distant or ambivalent, you may feel guilty when that parent dies.. Let yourself feel whatever you may be feeling; don’t judge yourself or try to repress painful thoughts and feelings.. Recognize the death’s impact on your entire family If you have brothers or sisters, the death of this parent will probably affect them differently than it is affecting you.. After all, each of them had a unique relationship with the parent who died, so each has the right to mourn the loss in his or her own way.. This does not mean that you are necessarily responsible for the living parent; in fact, to heal you must first and foremost meet your own grief needs.. And so when an elderly parent dies, we say, “Be glad she lived a long, full life” or “It was his time to go” instead of “Your mother was a special person and your relationship with her must have meant a lot to you.. If you are angry at God because of your parent’s death, realize this feeling as a normal part of your grief work.. Allow yourself to search for meaning You may find yourself asking “Why did Mom have to die now?” or “What happens after death?” This search for the meaning of life and living is a normal response to the death of a parent.
Nothing can prepare you for losing Mom or Dad, no matter how long they have lived. Learn to recognize the 5 stages of grief and know how they will help you as you deal with the loss of your parent.
When we lose an aged parent, many times well-intentioned friends try to offer condolences, such as, “He had a long life, you must be happy about that,” or, “You’re so lucky he died so quickly.” However, these words often do not resonate as we suffer the loss of a father or mother who had been by our side our entire life.. Even if we have a loving spouse, children and many close friends, the death of a parent means the loss of one of our first and most important connections.. The misconception that a mature and capable adult will not need to grieve their parent can cause the bereaved to feel even more alone, as their grief goes unrecognized.. But understanding and anticipating does not prepare us for the grief we feel when as an adult we lose a parent.. As you reflect on the memory of your loved one, whether you are alone or walking through it with a surviving parent as mentioned above, you are beginning the journey through the now well-known stages of grief.. Mourning a parent for whom you have negative feelings People are often conflicted about the loss of a parent about whom they had negative feelings.. We must take time to mourn and experience the type of parent we had and the type we never had, and acknowledge the reality that those losses cannot be pushed aside even if we think the person did not deserve our love.. The loss of a parent is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response.. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your parent didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing.. We have suffered a great loss in our life, one that has shaken us to the core, and even more so if we are one of the many who lost one parent right after the other, leaving us feeling even more disconnected from the world.. David Kessler is one of the most well-known experts on grief and loss today, reaching many people through his books including “On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss,” co-authored with the legendary Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.
Emotionally abusive parents are manipulative, cunning and toxic. Brilliant...
Spiteful, jealous and resentful, the abusive parent mocks the child, comparing them with a (fake) image they hold of themselves.. Any verbal or physical violence by the parents creates bodily trauma that results in the child becoming accident prone, extremely vulnerable leading to susceptibility to harm or illness, depression and anxiety.. Feeling deeply inadequate, the abused child will place themselves at the bottom of the " needs met" pile, seeking out relationships that act as a mirror reflecting their early family environment.. Living under a smokescreen of denial, narcissistic parents use gaslighting to make the child look completely mad and entirely bad.. Fearing abandonment, feeling sad, guilty, frightened, inferior and deeply ashamed, this anxious, angry, enraged child becomes even more passive, dependent, reliant and attached to the brainwashing parents.. Scolded for talking too loudly, asking " stupid" questions, ridiculed for anything from the way the child sits, smells or curls up to the cat, abused children never feel good enough.. Set up in seemingly impossible situations, devoid of praise for successes, the child feels like there is always another marathon to run, acting this scenario out at every opportunity seeking resolution from all the harm done.. Punishment for real or potential exposure at being seen as less than perfect may result in the abused child being cut out not just of the parents' lives, but also out of their will.. Upon hearing what sounds as if it's a familiar empty promise, a feeling of exclusion or fearful boundaries may be violated, the adult child will erupt in anger as if under a live grenade attack, or retreat and withdraw into passivity, self-harm and depression.. Mirroring the symptoms displayed by an abandoned child, it's as if the child has been physically left.. Addict parents will steal pocket money, use the child to hide alcohol, make the child their alibi or force the child to risk the local drug run.. Continuously distressed these children believe they have hurt the parents and enter adulthood adapted, increasingly guilty and ashamed, feeling evermore responsible for the parents' hurt feelings.. The belief is created that the child fabricated everything and is responsible for upsetting the heroic parents.
Children of abusive parents don’t just suffer at the time the abuse is taking place, but later on in life as well. Here’s what I can tell you about the struggles that children of abusive parents have, in particular, myself and my siblings:
During the abuse, my older sister would do anything to please my mother .. When my older sister went on to have her own children, she went completely against my own mother’s rules.. It is possible that children of abusive parents develop phobias. My mother abused my two sisters but ignored me.. I believe that I developed a phobia because the only time my mother showed me any attention was when I was sick.. Many narcissists have had abusive parents. Was my brother abused or wasn’t he?
Grief over the death of a parent is a form of bereavement that virtually every human being experiences. Only those who precede their parents in death
But why does grief over the loss of a parent hit you so hard – even if you weren’t close?. That formative relationship sets the stage for so many facets of your life: how you think about yourself, the world, gender roles, romantic relationships, and more.. Because a loss of this magnitude produces feelings of grief, mourning will be involved.. (Mourning is the emotional expression of grief.). And every person’s experience of grief is different.. So the loss of this relationship may make you feel alone or less grounded.. This is known as disenfranchised grief, or grief that is not openly acknowledged, socially accepted or publicly mourned.. Coping with the grief and loss of a parent is going to be different for everyone and you may need specific types of support for the various stages you progress through.. What did I get from my parent that I want to keep?. Even though you may not have been close or may have had a complicated relationship with to your parent, you have a right to deeply miss him or her and grieve the loss.. It is important to be able to talk and process through what you are experiencing.. It is important, though, for you to be able to process through these memories and emotions.. Processing though the grief and loss of a parent is not as predictable as one may hope and the emotions can hit you when you least expect it.. Jean Tschampa is a co-owner and principal therapist at Life Care Wellness, a group psychotherapy practice in Glen Ellyn and Chicago (Jefferson Park neighborhood), Illinois.
Attending the funeral of a parent should be a straightforward case but if your parent was abusive, attending her funeral is debatable. I get your point; why should you attend your parent’s funeral when you don’t care about her? Why should you pretend to give last respects to your mother when in reality you are ... Read more
I get your point; why should you attend your parent’s funeral when you don’t care about her?. It will definitely be hard for you to attend the funeral of your abusive parent if you still have the pain of the abuse.. Not only will you find rest for your soul but also you will have an easy time moving on after her death.. Failing to attend your mother’s funeral even if she was abusive will certainly give you a bad name.. Build a good name for yourself by attending the funeral of your mother.. How other people perceive you matters a lot.. Prepare yourself and attend the funeral of your mother.. This is the very last chance you will ever have to make peace when your mom is still around even if it is only her dead body.
My stepmother, Geraldine “Tookie” Anderberg, died on April 21, 2008. She was a horribly abusive parent, and it has really been a mixed bag of emotions coming to terms with her death. It seems odd to celebrate someone’s death in the way I feel it right now. I am not celebrating the joyful, productive, amazing life of my stepmom, Geri, in her death. It is more like a Nazi camp prisoner might feel upon hearing word that a Nazi officer that tortured him died. I am trying to figure out how to process the loss of an abusive parent. My *most* abusive parent.
My *most* abusive parent.. But this woman was so abusive to me and my sisters that I literally have *nothing* good to say, so I am not supposed to say anything at all.. My *most* abusive parent.. I have many good memories amidst the bad of my mother and father, but not a one good memory of Geri, my stepmom.. I got some good things from my own parents, I was only bullied and dehumanized by Geri.. With my parents, they showed love at some times in my life.. So grieving her death is totally different than grieving my own parents’ deaths, as I do not have *anything* good to say about this woman as she never did anything decent with or for me as a child in her care.. In addition, she traumatized me watching her abuse her own kids.. Death of an abuser and the issues of silence are huge, as another feeling I have is I do not think it is right that she did all that abuse of kids, then just dies and the secret dies with her.. As I think back on our house where Geri was married to my dad and she ruled like a dictator, in Granada Hills, I realize that I never once saw any of Geri’s kids do homework.. But she never had that consternation in the house since Geri had a don’t ask don’t tell policy around homework apparently when we were kids in school under her “care.” And only one of her daughters got a college degree, and Geri was livid, out of her mind enraged, when her daughter got accepted to college.. So, I used to think that Geri just abused me, and was just terrible to me, not her own kids, due primarily to their fear of breaking the silence of child abuse and some internalized shame about abuse.. And I realize now with age, looking back, that I saw her and Jimmy abusing her own kids and it was actually traumatizing to me too, to watch her do that to her own kids too.. I would have to say if there was one thing that Geri had a talent for, it was “fakeness.” In college, she was named “most polished,” but that could have many connotations!. If she had just been healthy and not so twisted, all of us could have had a safe home, gone to college, been supportive and loving family, but Geri was like some kind of anti-gelling agent!