Grief and Abuse: When abuse is in the mix Every so often I get a message from someone who is grieving the death of someone, usually a parent, who was abusive. To say this complicates grief is the understatement of all time. The mix of grief and abuse is so confusing. Rachel March 4th, at AM. You would think that this loss would be easier to bear as an adult then it would be as a child, but I know that the feeling of loss is the same.
People often are surprised when they feel grief at the death of an abusive spouse or parent. “Shouldn't I feel satisfied or relief?” they often ask. Actually, due to the complexity of emotions associated with grief they usually do feel a mix of emotions including relief. Once an adult survivor awakens to the truth, he will, through therapy and prayer, come to see the truth of who his parents are. And this realization, the unmasking of abusers, is shocking and hard. The adult child may have seen his father as “strong, loving, doing what needs to be done” and excused aberrant behavior out of a filial love.
Yet for the child of an abuser, regardless of their age, there is still grief. Albeit, a different kind of grief. For the average person, the loss of a parent is a loss of memories. For the victim of abuse, it . We mourn for our narcissistic parents. We also grieve our lost childhood, years of attempts to bond with them, and our painful memories of being antagonized instead of nurtured. I remember this stage being full of heaving sobs and angry outbursts, whether out in my walks in nature or in the car alone.