Grieving Someone You Didn’t Like (because it happens)

Let’s be honest, sometimes people die who you…well…hated. That sounds really harsh, but sometimes it’s true.  Or even if you didn’t hate the person, maybe you really didn’t like them…or you had a love/hate relationship…or you found them very difficult…or your relationship with them was difficult.  There are a number of ways this can play out, but the fact is that everyone dies, even people you weren’t very fond of.

The reasons why you may have had a difficult relationship are endless. Maybe they were mean or hurtful; maybe they were violent or abusive; maybe they were toxic or emotionally manipulative; maybe they betrayed you or someone you love.  I could go on and on and on.  No matter what the specific situation, grieving someone you didn’t like can leave you feeling isolated and confused.

People talk all the time about losing someone they deeply loved and cared for.  As for grieving someone you had negative feelings towards, people don’t talk as much about that.  We get it, it feels weird to sort through feelings about the death of someone you didn’t like and it can feel even weirder to talk about it.  So, today we’re going to talk about some of the circumstances that are unique to grieving someone you didn’t like.  Then we’re going to answer some of the questions that come up in those situations and talk about how to cope.  Ready?  Okay, good.

6 Reasons why the death of someone you didn’t like can cause complicated grief emotions:

  1. You’re not sure if what you’re feeling is grief.  If we understand grief as a natural reaction to loss, you may be thinking that it isn’t a “loss” that this person isn’t in your world anymore. You might think if you didn’t like or want them in your life, it can’t be grief.  This can leave you confused about how to categorize the feelings and isolated in discussing the emotions.
  2. You’re relieved and happy about the death.  Or, you’re at least not sad about it.  In circumstances when your physical or emotional safety (or that of someone you love) was at risk because of the person who died, you may be feeling an immense sense of relief that your safety is no longer in jeopardy.  At the same time, you may also be feeling some guilt that you’re relieved or happy or not sad.  Like we said, it’s complicated!
  3. Other people are not relieved, happy, or not sad.  Sometimes you have a bad or complicated relationship with someone, but other people in your life don’t.  After that person dies, you may be left to sort through complicated negative feelings, while others work through more traditional grief feelings.  This disconnect can leave you feeling isolated and alone, and also ill-equipped to support your grieving family and friends.
  4. You thought your relationship with them might eventually get better. This thought might have been conscious or it might have been subconscious.  Either way, when someone dies who you didn’t like it isn’t uncommon to suddenly feel the weight of the reality that you know will never get an apology, have a chance to apologize, or have a chance for the relationship to change and improve.  Even if those were things you never consciously wanted, knowing they are no longer even an option can be difficult.
  5. Your grief isn’t validated by others.  If people in your life knew you didn’t get along with this person, that you had a strained relationship, or had a falling out, people may minimize the validity of your feelings.  That is a little thing known as disenfranchised grief.  You may still be having intense grief feelings, despite that bitter divorce, painful custody battle, or even history of abuse.  People around you might be saying, what do you have to be upset about?!? You hated him and hadn’t talked to him for years!
  6. Death doesn’t bring closure. You may have imagined that all those complicated feelings would somehow get resolved once the person died or was completely out of your life.  But there is a good chance the complicated emotions are still there, even though the person isn’t.  You wouldn’t be the first or the last.  The reality is the pain of a difficult relationship doesn’t die just because a person has died.

6 ways to understand and cope with these complicated feelings.

  1. Remind yourself you have the right to grieve.  When someone is removed physically from our lives there is an impact, no matter how we felt about them.  It changes the relationship, and it can impact our understanding of the past and the future.  Even if the hole left in your life is a hole you believed you always wanted, that doesn’t change its emotional impact. You can deeply miss someone you had a really complicated relationship with, so give yourself permission.  The human heart is funny that way.
  2. Remember that it is okay to feel relief. If you feel guilty that you’re relieved, happy, or not sad about a death, let’s think through the feelings.  What you are relieved or happy about is that you are now safe and no longer fearful.  This is different than being glad someone has died.  If there had been another possible way for you to feel safe, you would likely have wished that to be the outcome.  For more on this, check out our post about relief.
  3. For better or worse, relationships continue after someone dies.  If you had a good relationship with someone, that can often continue through good memories and carrying on their legacy.  If you had a complicated relationship it often remains, well, complicated!  You may have imagined a person’s death would make you feel better or resolve some of the feelings you were having.  In some cases that’s true, but in some cases it isn’t.  You may find you still need to carry on efforts to explore your own feelings about the person or find ways to forgive (keeping in mind that foregiveness is not about saying someone’s behavior was okay!).  You can read more about forgiveness here.
  4. Communicate about the entire relationship, the good and the bad.  The old saying “don’t speak ill of the dead” can, unfortunately, make people feel like they have to keep their mouths shut about the problems in a relationship after the person has died.  We’re here to say, it’s okay to keep processing and talking about these issues if you need to, you may just want to choose your audience wisely.  Depending on your situation, friends or family may not be the best people to support these types of conversations.  If that is the case, a grief counselor or support group might be helpful.  What isn’t helpful is avoiding, stuffing, or ignoring the complicated emotions and memories.
  5. Realize you may be grieving the relationship you wished you had.  We all have ideas about what a mom or dad or friend or spouse or child is “supposed” to be.  Unfortunately, what we want a relationship to be is not always what it is.  Who we want a person to be is not always who they are.  If you are struggling to understand your own complicated emotions about the death, consider that you may be feeling grief around not having had the [mom/dad/husband/wife/friend/child] you wanted or needed.
  6. You can still finish ‘business’.  When grieving someone you didn’t like, or with whom you had a complicated relationship, there can be a feeling that any “unfinished business” will now have to be left unfinished.  It may not get finished in the way you had imagined when that person was alive (if you had been planning for a direct conversation, obviously that just isn’t going to happen).  You can still find ways to say the things you wanted to say.  That could be in the form of a journal, letter to the person who died, artistic expression, or with a therapist.
  7. Consider all the ways the relationship has impacted you.  Though many of these may be negative and painful, you may also see ways you grew from the strains in the relationship.  It may be in your own commitment to not being like that person or it may be in your growth and avoidance of other negative or toxic relationships. It may even be in your ability to find forgiveness or empathy in an impossible situation.  Whatever it is, take some time to appreciate yourself and your own growth.  This is not being grateful to the person or for the hurt or problems they caused, but taking the time to give yourself credit for the growth that can come from adversity.

What are your thoughts on grieving someone you didn’t like, or who you had a difficult relationship with?  Leave a comment to let us know! 

March 28, 2017

58 responses on "Grieving Someone You Didn't Like (because it happens)"

  1. One more question about my dad dying the other day. His funeral is on Saturday. How do I handle that? How do I deal with family when all I feel is pain and anger towards my dad? I was thinking about possibly not attending, so I can save myself from more hurt or pain even from the family members. My aunt thinks I shouldn’t go until the summer so that she can be there to be my support and also so I can possibly mend some. I also dont know how to be sympathetic or speak to people in this situation. So do I go and possibly blow up and let them know how / he and step mom hurt me or do I wait until summer? Also I dont now how to mend when I didnt get the closure I need and deserve. I blame my dad and my step mom and the family because they let it happen and didnt stand up for me and didnt tell him to be a father to me. He died probably thinking he was perfect and a good dad to his his kids.. (the other kids). My aunt on his side says she think it was my step mom and the religion that kept him away. I am atheist. But for his religious background all I can say is I hope and pray that he dont go to the pearly gates in the place people call heaven. He dont deserve it.

  2. My dad just died December 10, 2018. When I was younger he was a part of my life for two years. Then he remarried and had kids with the step mom. Then he made less of an attempt to be in my life. We were so close then to. I started to feel abandonment. But I was ok because I had my mom. She is the greatest and was always there for me. She became my mom and dad. I know she hurt too to have to watch me hurt. Especially when he told me he was coming to get me then a little bit later call and say he didnt have food to feed me and I looked at my mom and told her I dont need to eat. I just want to see my dad. Or he wasn’t going to be in the area only to find out he was visiting family that was near me. I was 8 or 9 then. When I was 13 I asked if I could go live with him and him and step mom told me no. He already had 3 other kids by then. I saw him for an hour after my daughter was 4. Then it was awhile again that I would talk to him again. Then I got sick , depressed and severely suicidal. I had to call and medical records from him. Come to find out its hereditary and he just didnt tell me anything. Then it was another some odd years we talked. I was 27 and it was my birthday and we went to a family reunion. So my family got on the mic and said everyone let’s wish Ashia happy birthday. My dad stood up and embarrassingly said, “IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY? I DIDN’T KNOW” that tore me to pieces. I knew then I didnt matter. They are jehovah witnesses so they dont even celebrate. But that’s no excuse. We ended up leaving because it hurt me for one and for two we didnt follow there Mexican traditions. So everybody was getting rude. I’m Mexican and white. Had he been a part of my life I would of learned that and learned to speak and understand them. So I was even more hurt and he hardly talked to me that day , after all those years. Another time 5 years later, I was in a bad way and wanted to kill myself. Asked if me and my girls could go there for awhile. Him and his wife told me no they didnt need the negativity around. I drank and got alcohol poisoning. After that I was a raging alcohol and a drug user. Once some of the family found out, then they wanted nothing to do with me. They didnt care that I was hurting. That’s when I needed everyone the most. I got into trouble. I got remarried and was happy as ever. My mom had my girls and then me and my husband ended up on the streets. Then he got in trouble and was looking at prison time. After court he only got probation. Then we decided we better straighten up. So we moved to my aunts and things are better. The last time I talked to my dad was in 2011. There was a tornado in Windsor Colorado where he lives. I was scared and tried reaching him for 3 days. I was scared he was gone. I dont even know why. He dont care obviously if I died. But still I talked to him. By then he was an alcoholic, diabetic , severely depressed and agoraphobic. Anyways so ending our conversation I told him I loved him. He acted like he didnt hear me or he was thrown off guard. So I was hurt and repeating myself. “I LOVE YOU DAD.!” All he said is ” OH, OK”. Crushed for the rest of my life. I needed closure. I’ve wrote him so many times asking why he did all this to me , why he never reached out to me. Why didnt I matter? But now get this, I never sent them because i was worried I’d hurt him. Now 8snt that sick. I should never had to feel or think that way. He could of reached out at anytime in my 40 years. And gave me closure. Now once again I’m still severely depressed on tons of meds. Got other medical things going on now that make it so I can’t work right now or lead a normal life. And bipolar . The only thing that keeps me going is my mom, my brother, my husband , my girls and my precious therapy dog. When my aunt called and said he died that day I was sad but I was also happy. I was glad that pos sob was gone. He didnt deserve me. He didnt deserve anything. I couldnt cry because my emotions are out of whack and I dont know how to feel compassion. It’s always hard when someone passes away because I can’t be supportive and I dont know how to reply or comfort I dont like to cry because it’s a sign if weakness so I never cry. So how was I really supposed to feel at that moment. Then the next day all the emotions hit. I couldnt stop crying. It hit me that that pos always gets away with everything and now he has gotten away with hurting me all these years, never apologizing or giving me the closure I need to live. I was so hurt. I wanted to kill myself. Which it would of happened that day most definitely, knowing also that’s all I want to do is die. I’ve been waiting my whole life for that moment. Now the moment is here cuz I’m so hurt and instead I stopped myself and called my husband at work and had him come home because I dont feel it’s safe for me to be home alone. He took two days off for me and today I went to my moms. I slept all day. I couldnt be around them, just wanted to be alone. But at least I’m still alive and I will keep doing so until I get over this. But my question is how do I move on without that closure and the love that he wouldn’t return. I also realized all the stuff I’m going through in my life was because of him. How do I get over that and be happy finally in my life and how do I live? How do I learn to feel the emotions that i never really had. I dont even hug my kids cuz I’m not that kind if person. My whole life and mind is in a bubble and I dont want anyone in my bubble. I’ve become withdrawn. All i know is pain aloneness and to how to hurt others. I dont want to feel all this. I want to be normal and a great mom, wife, sister and daughter. I also wanted to add, it’s been 4 days now and my step mom has not even tried to reach out to me. Only my aunt and my cousin on his side. All my family on my mom’s side have been very supportive. Especially my husband because he went through the same thing with his dad before his dad died. So he knows what I’m feeling and how messed up I am . Sorry I put my life story out there. I needed to get out and I need help to get over it and to forgive and love him fully instead of the love/hate I’m feeling toland that I’m happy he is gone. Thank u.

  3. Today is Thanksgiving. Both my mom, my dad and my sister are gone. Really, all of my family except my son and a few cousins. I find myself thinking about my mom and how she hated me. I was the second sibling and a mistake, an oops. Thanksgiving always reminds me of her dislike of me, no matter how I tried to provide a beautiful meal and pretty table just to please her. I know that her ways were from her mother who left her to raise her brothers at an early age. I have tried to understand her feelings for her disdain for me and understand that her mother abandoning her hurt her so very much. I really believe that she acted out because of that. I have always known from a small child that she wishes I had not been born. Fortunately, my dad’s mom was wonderful and loved me to the core, and I knew it. My mom didn’t like her either. I think because everyone loved my grandmother and my grandmother was a wonderful mom to her five children and all the grand kids. She was loving, sweet and charitable. I think my mother was jealous that she didn’t have that from her mother. I wasn’t close to her mother not fully understanding why until I got to be a teenager and saw the impact her missing as a mother had left my own mother. She was an alcoholic and only came around when she was drunk. I hated it and swore it would never be part of my life, and I never allowed it in my own home. I don’t know how to cope with these feelings of being unloved my my own mother, and they always come up every Thanksgiving as I remember the cruel and nasty things she said that were so unnecessary. Just don’w know how to deal with it.

  4. This article really helped me.
    My Grandma died yesterday and I feel so strange about it. Growing up I was exceptionally close to her mainly because I was her favourite.. but then I had children and my children were not her favourite great-children. She left them out.. forgot their birthdays and just generally made us all feel like rubbish. It was only then that I realised how my siblings and cousins must have felt growing up!

    I explained a number of times how I was feeling and although she would admit I was right.. nothing changed. I cut her off 3 years ago and didn’t look back… only now she’s dead and everyone is messaging me saying how sorry they are.. I’m off work struggling to cope with my emotions and all I really want to do is hide away until it’s all passed!

    One thing not mentioned in this article is what to do about the funeral.. do I go and risk the family attacking me or do I not attend and risk the family attacking me…
    I’m just at a loss…
    Those closest to me keep saying ‘do what is right for you’ but the trouble is I’m not thinking clearly enough right now to know what that is…

  5. I found out recently that someone I cared about, Joe, died on June 19, 2017. The girl who dated him didn’t know who he was, and I doubt anyone really did. Joe had a lot of mental problems and then one afternoon took a handful of drugs including coke and alcohol and sexually assaulted me. He manipulated me into thinking it was love, and left me with permanent nerve damage. He almost killed me. I went through about two years of trauma counseling to get past it, and then the other day I found out that he died. Now 10 years later, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten closure. I keep wondering if he isn’t really alive, maybe staging his death somehow, because he isn’t listed anywhere but on the funeral home website. And then I think maybe that’s what I want. I’m not sure. I know I feel angry and sad but I’m not angry at myself and I’m not sad that he’s dead, if he’s really dead). He did some really horrible things, and was in contact with some really bad people, and I can’t seem to find any information other than on the funeral home website. Not a single comment, not a single person upset that he’s gone, and I have to wonder if he didn’t plan all of this somehow, that he might know someone at the funeral home who quickly threw together a webpage so it would look like he’s dead. I have a number of unreconciled feelings about all of this, and in many ways I do hope he’s gone, because he was a pretty messed-up person. He had mental health issues, he had substance abuse issues, and while I knew him he was a manipulator. I doubt that ever changed. But the complete lack of information about him, no record of his death, no record of him dying, and no one even saddened by his death alludes me. So I do hope he’s gone, if for no other reason than he was a very unhappy person. And I do hope he’s gone because he would have destroyed everyone around him like he did me. But I can’t help but wonder. Thanks for reading.

  6. Thayer White suggests you talk to the person who hurt you. But not in person. You just go into a room by yourself and tell the person how angry you are at them, how terribly you’ve been affected by what they did. Be emotional and honest and really feel those emotions without judging yourself. You have a right to say what you were never allowed to say and they will hear it, even if they are dead. They have to listen, they are not allowed to defend themselves and you shouldn’t give them excuses.
    I did this to my dad after he died and it really helped.

  7. This helped me understand mush of what I’m feeling. I believe I should go see a grief counselor. My husband’s Grandma just died and it brought out a lot of relief and anger in me. We have had a seriously damaged relationship for the last 7 years. She has tried everything to get my husband to divorce me because she hates me, but unfortunately my husband loves his grandma so much he doesn’t defend me. I was relieved to here of her passing but also heartbroken because I never did anything to cause her to hate me. When our relationship started we were only 24 so my husband constantly lied to his grandmother when we moved in together he told her he was still living at home because she not does approve before marriage. She use to scream at me for working all the time and missing family events because I had a job. I always wanted my husband to tell her he caused all the lies not me but he never did so she still died hating me. I never got to talk through it I never got an apology for never hurting her and now she’s gone and the family wants me to just get over it but they causes her to hate me. So a grief counselor might be best because I dont have anyone in my life to explain this too.

  8. It feels better to know that I’m not alone. My father died 3 days ago. I didn’t cry the first day. The second day I didn’t stop crying and today I find myself confused. I’m feeling all the negative words towards him. We haven’t spoken in a few years. He was the best man he could be. I’m a great person for the wrongs he committed against me. I loved him but I didn’t like him. He won’t be missed but the idea of a daddy will be. Wishing everyone on this blog peace and love ❤️

  9. My father sexually abused my daughter. We were lucky in that he went to prison for several yrs and she did not have to testify in court. I have had no contact with him since the abuse occured, years. He passed away today and while I do not feel sad my eyes keep leaking. I am planning to attend the funeral, mostly because of my leaking eyes. I don’t know if I need the closure. I am worried about other family members due to circumstances. This term, complicated grelief, really makes sense to me. I am glad I came across this. It helps. Thank you.

  10. I wrote this song text after I lost someone I loved:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQjB9NkmGvY

    I am happy for every humans heart I am able to touch with this song. I hope you enjoy the song.
    Regards, Gerd Steeger

  11. You’re not alone, I have not spoken with my father in over 5 years and over the last 40 years of my life, he has dipped in and out of my life with no consistent relationship. We both tired and we both gave up. I lost my mom 13 years ago and now on August 31st 2018 my 78 year old father passed away and I am a roller coaster of emotions. I am angry, sad, hurt, stressed and confused. He’s never been a part of my life so I can’t understand why I feel this way..

  12. I was married to an emotionally and physically abusive man for 29 years before we separated. I was no angel in the relationshsip as I could be very provocative sometimes. He suffered from bi-polar and was an alcoholic and made mine and our 2 children’s lives hell sometimes. He died 6 years ago and although I always felt sorry for him while he was alive, I was kind of relieved when he died as he was not suffering anymore. I briefly cried once and then blocked out my feelings. I think I grieved through many years of my relationship because I had lost the man I married due to him changing so much. I am having health problems now and my daughter reckons it’s partly due to the fact that I bottled everything up instead of seeing a counsellor.

  13. Thanks for this article and many thanks to the people above who I resonate well with.
    It is a strange comfort to know that others are going through the same sort of things. It’s painful and yet – releasing.
    I am typing from my father’s computer… forgiveness caused reconciliation 5 weeks before he passed away mid July after 5 years of no contact. It was horrible, what he did. The effect he has had over my life is criminal and at 51, a single mother, broke and broken, I feel angry and hurt. Nowhere to go with it. People don’t want to know really.
    I will process it and then, if there is any money left after the family home has been taken by the loan shark he sold it to…. we will at least be able to pay a few bills, the rent and possibly even not worry so much about buying good school shoes.
    It just goes to show that you can’t take it with you…. I want to leave a legacy of love.
    It stops with me.
    I love my daughter and my friends and I intend to show more of the love I never got.
    I’ve even had to google how to do this because I have never been taught how to just love. How stupid is that?
    I am learning how to be less selfish and if, at the end of the day, the pain, the abuse, the mockery and the lies from him cause me to become a better person and not like him, then perhaps I can endure? Perhaps it will be worth all the pain.
    As for the grieving… I have been hugely angry this week and don’t like the feeling.
    I have not spoken kindly of him in private because he was such a $£8% and I have felt quite sorry for myself. (yuk)
    I have not been good and feeling this stuff and just want to change it.
    Usually I am a very positive type. Resilient but this has hit me. I feel like running away.
    Here’s to a better future.

  14. So glad I read this article. Thank you so much for the insight, wisdom, tact and understanding; especially for me when it was stated that everyone in the family may not have had the same experience/relationship. And might not be the best thing to talk about, with others, within same family. My oldest sister and I get it. And I’m thankful for that, but after reading this, it’s time for a therapist. He’s dead and the opportunity for bonding, questions and answers… well, he gone. Good.

  15. I lost 2 people in my family this summer. One was the light of my childhood/adulthood and the other was not even a night light in my life. I find doodling helps me deal with grief best. I can celebrate love in art and also I don’t say regretful words this way. In my grief and reading about loss- two things have stood out no matter if we are remembering a kind or an unkind person…. resilience —- and that the purpose of life is love.

  16. This article has helped me so much. My father died a week ago and I’m having a hard time processing my emotions. We hadn’t spoken in over a year and I saw him as being a toxic individual who was abusive to my mother and was also a terrible father to me and my sister.

    He suffered in later years with severe clinical depression and I also suspect bipolar episodes which made him even more difficult to be around. Watching him be absolutely vole to my mother who cared for him and looked after him up until the day he passed away fills me with anger.

    In his last few weeks, I made an effort to resolve things with him but his health had deteriorated (physically and mentally) to a point where I’m not even sure if he knew what I was saying.

    In the days following his death, I’m trying to play the role of a devoted, grieving and dutiful son as this seems to be what everyone wants from me. My sister is eulogising him to the point of canonisation and I feel angry that everyone seems to have forgotten what a nasty man he actually was.

    I have some happier memories of him but have to really search hard to bring them to front of mind.

    I’m sad, but happy. Angry and relieved.

    I don’t want to remain negative and need to co e to terms with the reality of our relationship. My issue is that everyone around me including my long-suffering mother and sister are not respecting my need to talk about how this man treated us cruelly.

    It’s early days so I expect we will all experience further emotions and thoughts but I feel like I don’t want to grieve him or the relationship we could have had as it will drag me back to a place I need to leave in my past.

  17. We need to coin a new term…. complicated grelief.
    I have had way too much of it. Can’t even begin this story.
    Abuse sucks and leads to more abuse and then complicated grelief when they pass. Had it before, during & after my abusive dad died and then again when my abusive husband died. I had realized some of the abuse both times and they didn’t want others to find out. Lies and abuse. Even the Christian counselor had called it quits on marriage counseling when he did something so mean during counseling. He thought he had her around his baby finger but he didn’t. She told me to go to the trauma counselor in the same practice and told him we were thru. He told everyone I had to go to the other counselor since all the problems were mine. Things like this happened all the time and then more while he was in disability. And when someone is dying they really wrap the flying monkeys around their baby finger. It was awful. But that was then. I sold the house, got all the money and moved. I still have 2 kids in college. Still having counseling. But moving forward in life in much wiser ways.

  18. Love your poem. it helped. thank you.

  19. Wow! A very, very strange thing happened today!

    My ex-mother-in-law passed away a few days ago, and I attended her funeral today. I have been divorced from her daughter for about 16 years, and during that time I spoke with my now-deceased mother-in-law only ONCE. The point I am emphasizing is that I have not had a relationship at all with my ex-MIL, in any form whatsoever, since my divorce. I decided to attend the funeral only because I knew I would be setting a good example for my (our) children, who are grown (college age), NOT because I had any compulsion to mourn her loss. Indeed, I have always blamed my divorce in large part on my parents-in-law, and while I do not hate them, I have long since had a pretty keen dislike for them. It must also be said that my divorce was not like some that I hear about, where the divorcing couple is nice and kind to one another. Rather, it was a really messy divorce, with arguments and ill feelings continuing for many years after the papers were signed, and at times the post-divorce situation has been downright ugly.

    In any case, when I attended the funeral today, I could not stop crying! Every time I began to speak with someone prior to the services beginning, I began to bawl. I do not understand why. With a lot of effort, I was able to quell my tears throughout most of the service, but throughout it all I was fighting my tears, sometimes unsuccessfully. I did not expect this, and I do not understand it. Why was I so emotional attending a funeral for someone I did not care for?

    Consider this: I have attended funerals for four grandparents, two of whom I was extremely close to; I have attended the funeral of an uncle with whom I was very close, speaking the eulogy; I have presented a eulogy at the funeral of a close friend, and have attended other funerals, and have never been even close to as emotional as I was today… at a funeral for someone I did not like very much!!!! How does that make sense? I’ve never seen irony like this–I was clearly the MOST outwardly emotional person there (including my ex-father-in-law, my ex-wife, the deceased’s siblings, my children, who are of course the deceased’s grandchildren–none of whom so much as shed a tear), yet I was certainly the person at the funeral who cared for her the LEAST. Furthermore, as I pointed out, why have I been well-contained at the funerals of people who were very dear to me? So strange!

    How did this happen? I cannot explain it. As I’ve said, I certainly did not expect it. What sort of psychological complex can account for that experience?

  20. Thank you so much for this article. My sister’s breadth cancer recently mets to brain and lungs with poor prognosis. I have previously been supportive as poss through email and occasional visits. But latest news was so hard to deal with. She gphas bullied me all my life, more so in my adulthood.. physically, verbally abusive, had me arrested ( one and only time for me) that prevented me from applying/getting certain types of jobs in my profession for 5 years. We were then estranged fro about 10 years – she wouldn’t let me see my niece if I didn’t do as she said or said what she wanted to hear. I’ve waited for niece to become an adult to build relationship but she is aloof at best, understandably.. more recently with inherited money she insisted on witnessing my partner of 11 years sign a sort of pre- nuptial agreement. I got out of that by pointing out that i’ve Let her and her husband have most of the money and not interfered with their financial affairs…. it’s endless the depth and breadth of her previous nastiness. And yet now feeling guilty that she is so ill with not long to live. She also the favourite of my uneducated evil mother and abusive fathers (deceased). I’n
    I am the black sheep and no-one is allowed to talk about the elephant in the room.
    I am opposite to Sis and if it were “normal “ I would be visiting regularly, offering to help as much as poss, trying to make her laugh, buying gifts to cheer her up. But as it is, experience with her has taught me that it will just be thrown back at me . Useful bible quote “ don’t throw pearls to pigs”. But now with brain mets I felt so confused and guilty. This article has helped me sort out some of my emotions. I’ve decided and have started to be as akind as poss. Without going overboard. Offered date to visit but rejected and not offered date that I have since found out rest of family will be visiting…. etc. Etc. Trying to do right thing one day at a time, but know in my head and heart it the abuse still happened/ happens, that their responses will be negative if not hateful.
    It’s helped me be more at peace with myself at the end of each day, able to at least be happy during each day and able to sleep at night.
    So big thank you …. I was’t able to find help elsewhere and not in position to speak to family nor speak to ( well meaning) but not private strangers . .. ( gps, Macmillan, etc. ) . Thank you.

    • Rada, I could have written your post word for word. I’m sorry I can’t offer you any helpful words. Just know that you are not alone. x

  21. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS WONDERFUL ARTICLE! I have been going to a grief councillor and your article helped me way more than counselling. My husband of 50 years was killed in a horrific accident, 6 months ago. All I felt was relief—and freedom! I had been saved by the Good Lord! – if I believe in that, not sure. I do not share my relief with my supportive loved ones because they were not left behind closed doors with him. He was MR PERSONALITY when the door bell rang. Few knew who he really was. Still I am dumbfounded. How do I pick up and carry on? My support people are in a different grief than I am. I guess I will learn to love my own company! So, off to Vegas alone I go! Wish me luck! (sounds good but I feel like I could throw up)

  22. I just need to shout this into the void.
    I just found out a couple days ago that my abusive ex-boyfriend killed himself recently. At first all I felt was shock, and nothing beyond that. And then I was sad *because* I didn’t feel anything. I felt bad for his family, who I had always liked, but I had had such intense feelings about him for so long – I loved him so much and then I hated him so much – that it was like they all collapsed in together and cancelled each other out. And then in the last couple days since I heard the news… Things have gotten more complicated. I’ve actually cried over it a couple times. I don’t miss him, and I haven’t forgotten what he did to me, but it’s like his death has softened and even sweetened some of my bitter memories of him. I feel like this makes me a bad abuse victim or something, and I don’t know how to sort through all of this. In a weird way I feel sad for him that he was in such a dark place that he decided to end it. This article was helpful, but I still feel a bit lost in all this.

  23. My sister in law who wore white to my wedding, who bought her dress too small when she was a brides maid, who took my flowers of my mother in laws grave and gave them back to me, who told me the neighbor girl was going to take my fiancé away, who told me my nose was too big, who told me my house smelled like cat pee, who told my husband he was functionally illiterate, who took the pie plate from me after I cared for her dad in his final days (I sure didn’t do it for her!!!), died from lung cancer a few weeks ago. It has bothered me more than I can say. BUT her obit is comprised of what I would call lies I guess that suits her because that what she did her whole life. (Brother in law is a “salesman” and considers himself a “writer”) He writes fiction pretty well… It makes me sad she was ill but man was she mean. I have to keep it to myself as best as I can because she was my husbands sister and I have to respect that…

  24. My mother in law died last week. I literally jumped for joy, singing Ding Dong the witch is dead. She has been a trouble maker in my marriage from the start. Pure toxic person if there ever was one. My husband was always caught in the middle and insisted that she and her whipped husband have a relationship with out children.

    Well 2 1/2 years ago, my 15 year old daughter, her only granddaughter was over her house and telling her grandmother about her college plans. My stupid MIL told her that she didn’t need college and that she…the MIL, who has never held down a job for one second, could go out and make 6 figures babysitting. Stupid conversation.

    Well, when my daughter insisted that she did need college because she wanted to be a doctor, my MIL saw that she wasn’t going to win this argument for once, my daughter stood by her convictions. So, my MIL called her an insulant little bitch. Nice huh? She then cornered my daughter and told her she wasn’t going to allow her to call for help until she was told that her views were right.

    My daughter was forced to hit her own grandmother in order to get away and call for help.
    A lot of other horrible things were uttered by that horrible woman toward my daughter before my son showed up to get her. That relationship was over.
    My MIL had so much negative influence on her husband that my FIL has not had anything to do with this grandchildren over the last 2 1/2 years.

    Now that she is dead, me and my kids are overjoyed. My husband is torn and doesn’t want to hear the negative things said about her even though he agrees he will not miss her.

    Now if only the FIL would go away for good.

  25. My parents kicked me out of the house for being 20 minutes late, because my car had been vandalized, when I was 17. Since that day, 40 years ago, I’ve had very little contact with them, and any I did have , turned out painful. Neither of them wanted me. My Mom made it clear she hated me. No, it wasn’t a feeling, she TOLD me over and over and over, starting when I was 4. I wasn’t informed of my father’s death until years after. My Mom made contact with me about six months before she died, she had brain cancer. I’m not sure why she did, but I think it was just more of the headgames she always played. I wasn’t told for weeks about her death, since her two wanted children decided I didn’t need to know. I don’t know that I grieve their passing, but I do grieve not having a loving family. My Dad just never cared, while my Mom made my childhood a living hell. And on top of dealing with those feelings, I have to deal with the anger of being blacklisted from the memorial service by my siblings. Not sure if that’s what she was after, to make sure I was aware I wasn’t invited, again? Did she tell me she wanted me there, then left instructions for them to not tell me? Yes, this isn’t normal grief. I buried a son and am still grieving his lose. This is something much different and much more confusing. Something therapists don’t even seem to understand, after all mothers love their kids, right?…well, no, …no they don’t.

  26. My mom passed in August last year. The months leading up to it were traumatic. The years before that were filled with hardship and stress, which I tried and tried to help her with. I tried to get her to get help, emotional help, mental help, financial help. She was not a happy woman, I don’t ever remember her being happy, or even having a lot of friends. Some of her mean-ness was justified, my step-father was an abusive jerk and he left her in late 2008 for as he said, “the woman he was going to spend the rest of his life with.” Little did he know how true that statement would be in the end. That woman he left for…..he was murdered by, sometime in early 2009, his body found buried in her back yard in August 2010). The chick who killed him, she cleaned out bank account, CD’s, savings, and for some reason, unknown to me and never explained, the money was in an account with his name only and not hers, even though it was both of theirs. For several years, I deposited money in her bank account every month, until my husband and I began to struggle financially and could not longer support her. It’s a very very long story, but there’s no reason she couldn’t have lived on her social security. Growing up, she was always telling me how anything that ever happened was all my fault. I was constantly reminded that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, skinny enough for anyone to like me. When my stepfather came into the picture and tried to molest me, she gave me up to the state where I live in a group home until I aged out. The months leading up to her death, I traveled weekly to Daytona Beach, tried again to get her help. I even told the hospital staff that she wanted to die, she told me she wanted to die and it was clear she meant it. The hospital staff did a suicide evaluation and she lied to them. Towards the end, the last weeks she was even worse and I know it was unrealistic, but that little girl inside me, the one who needed her mom hoped that she’d say she was sorry, hoped she’d say she always loved me, hoped she would say that my stepfather was a dirtbag and she was wrong for doing what she did and throwing me away. But….she didn’t and her last words to me were “You’ve been a pain in my ass all my life.” This was in the nursing home, where she was sent after her last hospital visit because they said she could not be alone. I left the nursing home in tears and told the staff I wasn’t coming back. I drove the 5 hours home crying the whole time. I was forced to make an end of life decision by phone, when she clearly had a DNR on file with the hospital. All these months later and I am filled with confusion and guilt. It didn’t help that she had a reverse mortgage on the house (she and my stepfather took a lump sum and the girl who killed him stole that money too) and the reverse mortgage company has gone out of their way to make it difficult for me to do anything with her house, to the point where I just want to say f**k it and walk away. I’ve thought about finding a therapist to talk about all this, but I haven’t found anyone I have any kind of connection with.

  27. My Mother in law is towards the end of her life,. She made my life very difficult in the twenty years I knew her (I cut her off 4 years ago). She never accepted me. She never even spoke a mutual language (English) in front of me so that I could understand and feel welcome. It was her manipulative way of reminding me that I was an outsider. She competed with me for my husband’s loyalty – interfered with our marriage, tried to get my husband to side with her on decisions for our family that were contrary to what I wanted and was just a very negative presence in my life. Just before I cut her off she revealed that she predicted my husband and I would divorce and she resented my place in my husband’s life. Her husband, kids and extended family are devastated she will be gone soon, but I share none of these feelings. I will be relieved, and not much will change for me as I already cut her out of my life. In many ways she is already dead to me. The one thing I plan to do is not tell anyone I know when she dies as I don’t want any sympathy. I will not be sad!

  28. My husband’s son’s mother died recently, and I do not feel bad about it. Not at all. But I don’t feel happy either. I am indifferent. We had no contact with each other for the past several years, so nothing has changed in my world in that regard, and, hence, I do not feel any sense of loss—or relief, even. I really just feel nothing. She tortured us for years. YEARS. She did a lot of irreparable damage to our marriage. Left me traumatized. And she drove a wedge between her son and I which has made it difficult for us to ever really bond, even now that he’s grown. And that’s exactly what she wanted. But somehow I’m the one with the problem right now for NOT feeling bad that she’s gone? Nope. It doesn’t work that way. I had nothing to do with her & my husband’s breakup (we met a year after they were done), but despite that, she always treated me like I did. I put my best foot forward with her son from day 1 because I knew what it was like to be a stepchild, but she sabotaged it all. Fast forward many years, I finally got smart and, after a nasty argument with her, I decided she was a cancer I needed to cut out of my life. And so I refused to deal with her from that day forward and left it all to my husband—which I should’ve done from day 1. I swear the stress she caused me took 10 years off my life. Now that she’s gone, everyone is singing her praises, everyone (many of whom talked so badly about her for years) is so sad, etc. Including my husband. It’s surreal. My motto is if you didn’t love someone in life, don’t pretend to love them in death. And he didn’t love her. But he has issues with death in general, so I’m trying to be understanding and just let it run its course with him (not that he is able to reciprocate this to me, however). But I think people do a lot of what they think they’re “supposed” to do in these situations, like “oh, someone died, I’m SUPPOSED to feel sad—or at least act the part.” Yeah, NO. It is totally unrealistic to expect people to grieve the death of someone who hurt them, tortured them, disrespected them, and the list goes on. I think THOSE people are the ones with problems, NOT the person who is being real and honest and saying what they feel (or the fact that they DON’T “feel” anything, if that’s the case). Don’t ever let anyone make you think you’re wrong for “feeling” a certain way, especially about death. Only YOU went through whatever it is you went through with that person. When my husband’s ex was dying in the hospital, I did go to church and pray for her. Did I tell anyone that? Nope. I didn’t feel the need to have to defend myself or justify or rationalize my feelings by saying “see, I went and prayed for her, so I’m not some horrible person just because I don’t feel bad she’s gone.” That’s private and nobody needs to know that. Just because I didn’t want her in my life doesn’t mean I wanted her dead or in pain. There’s a huge difference. And even people who MAY want someone dead—hey, maybe they have their reasons. Maybe the person was physically or sexually abusive. Maybe the person permanently and adversely altered their life in some way, shape, or form. People need to stop judging and start putting themselves in others’ shoes.

  29. Thank you for this, my cousin died a few days ago and I’ve been struggling with the guilt that I’m relieved he’s gone. He’s never liked me because he thinks I’ve been spoiled by everyone, something he never got himself. We never talked except for one word yes or no. And he was always a dark cloud looming over me whenever we were in proximity.

    It just saddens me because we’re family, and he thought so terribly of me. When we could’ve had a good relationship.

  30. I just lost my father yesterday and have chosen not to speak to him since Sept 2017. I always felt that he was displeased with me for not being the son ge wanted. I am the youngest of theee daughters. He loved me but his way of showing that love was through being verbally abusive. I had started feeling indifferent towards him and then he passed. As long as I focus on the adult me (I am 55), I am ok. The wounded child in me wants to create havoc and I know I need to journal and write about those feelings. I chose to not see him while he was in hospice for less than 5 days but I am going out for the funeral. Wish me luck as part of me feels I am entering the lion’s den in dealing with the rest of my family.

  31. When I started going out with my first boyfriend 3 years ago we were both virgins and I thought he really liked me, unfortunately after a mere 8 days in our new relationship he had gotten drunk at a party with his ex girlfriend and had sex with her that night. Whats even more crazy was earlier that day I was on my way to my job when I passed them up the street from my house talking with her and her sister, I didn’t think nothing of it at first because I trusted him, but I was wrong. I was too late at my chance because after I left my cousin said that my boyfriend and another girl showed up at my house looking for me and he introduced her as his ‘homegirl’ I I never found that he cheated on me until after 5 months when I had already gotten feelings and it was heartbreaking.
    She committed suicide last year and I didn’t feel sad for her, honestly. I felt that she wasn’t a problem anymore because my boyfriend tried running after her saying he missed her and she was his first.
    It just messed with my confidence and made me feel so ugly and worthless and second best at everything. Still does, even though she’s gone. She was younger than me, still in highschool after him and I both graduated. I still get mad and curse her name.
    I’m not with him anymore but we do have one child together.

  32. My alcoholic, narcissistic, hoarder mother recently died of end-stage liver disease and complications. She was a pathological liar who lied about anything and everything, but also told big, nasty whoppers about me to a lot of other people (including her priest and the healthcare staff at the hospital where she died). She spent most of her adult life heavily abusing opioids and alcohol, yet insisted she’d never had a drink. She was certainly mentally ill as well.
    Any contact with her stressed me out, and she ruined any family events she attended. She spent years threatening to sue me and have me thrown in jail over my handling of her mother’s estate, even though I hired an expert law firm to make sure we got things right. No one, other than her equally toxic cousin, is sorry she passed.
    I just feel relief and a kind of freedom that she can’t wreak havoc on my life anymore. I’m having a hard time finding any support resources online for this kind of situation, though.

  33. Thank you for this ! most notably the section on relief. I just found out the woman my husband cheated on me with over half a decade ago has died of breast cancer actually going on one year ago.

    The first feeling i experienced was total shock and the second was pure happiness. It’s not that i wanted her to die, i could never be that selfish or creepy. I am just so RELIEVED that i no longer have to worry about running into her or her contacting my husband anymore.

    Six years ago her husband reached out to me that he found some horrible emails between her and my husband. Little did he know i was in the middle of taking care of my father in hospice & eventually did lose him to terminal liver cancer. This ripped my life into pieces , i went insane for a bit . I had not one ounce of positivity or optimism for 3 years afterward.

    I eventually dug up her email address by searching endlessly through our computers and his phone for an unhealthy 48 hrs so i could confront her. I hoped to gain closure but she put the entire affair on my head and said that i obviously couldn’t truly please him and that it was on me. I have never been able to fully reach closure until just now and im still very guilty about it .

    I feel like its bad karma to be so cheerful at someone’s passing and she was truely in pain if cancer took her life, so i know she suffered which isn’t something i would ever wish . Also i do feel terrible about her young son & all of the family she left behind. Her husbands facebook is filled with lamenting and prayers. Its really interesting to find out that she was a super christian woman seeing as how the email i contacted her by was [email protected]… (smh) . One FB commenter told a heart warming story of her reading bible passages to her sick aunt everyday . Its weird to see this woman 3 dimensionally for the first time and i feel like i do fully forgive her and my husband for all that transpired against me.

    lastly her husband posted her last written words that she wanted to share with the world. Ironically / Eerily one of the comments that she made was forgive all that have done you wrong . Letting anger stew can manifest in physical ailment. Not sure if i subscribe but i feel like it has officially marked a place of renewal and growth for me and I’m just so thankful to have this off my shoulders now.

  34. Thanks for the article, my dad, who I had a bad relationship with, died a month ago and I needed to read this.

    For Debbie or anyone who is in a similar situation, I hope what happend to my may be usefull for you. I had a bad relationship with my father we only talked to eachother from time to time. He spent a week in a hospital before I came to visit him without knowing that he only had a few hours to live, I stood about 10 feet away from him but I did not talk to him at all, I turned around and left. I think he didnt even saw me. A few hours later I got the call that he had just died.

    Now I wish I talked to him. I often wonder what he wouldve said. He said goodbye to a lot of people. I wish I had that chance, even if he said something bad I could deal with it now but I like to think he woudve said something nice but now I´ll never know.

    Had he said something mean like he did most of the times, I´d probably feel the same as I do now, since I´m already angry at him. But maybe just maybe he wouldve say goodbye to me or that he loved me or that he was sorry.

    I wish that you came to your father and talked to him, if he is still alive I hope you go and talk to him one last time.

  35. I just found out that a woman died who cheated with my now ex boyfriend. It was a little shocking but I must say she was not as nice to me as she could have been. She got my number 5 mos ago from my ex’s phone and called to tell me she was the other woman.
    We ran into one another and this woman called me all kinds of b-i-t-c-h-es, and laughed at me. I cried so much that night she called me again to continue to harass me because my boyfriend was trying to reconcile with me. Five months later she is dead of cancer. I did ray for her and have asked god to forgive me for any thoughts I had that were not good. To be honest, I was shocked that she died. She knew completely about me and my ex and still decided to be the side chick. I told her she could have him, then she got mad that he didn’t want her, this must have made her extremely angry; therefore I got the cussing out of my life. I have never experienced such vial hatred. She was on my mind all week and I asked God to take her off my mind and send His ministering spirits so her for salvation. Then I find out she past just days after I asked God to take her off my mind and help her. I want not bother. I pray she accepted Jesus,
    she was not as kind as she seemed on her facebook pictures. I experienced that first hand. God bless her soul

  36. I haven’t had someone who has died whom I’ve had a negative relationship with but my partner has and although I am now beginning to understand her grief I am still sure that if I were in a similar position I would be stubborn enough to have let it go and said that they are not going to upset my life again and therefore wouldn’t allow they passing to affect my life. Would this be a valid coping method for some or is it just my ignorance on the whole thing because I won’t ever experience it?

  37. My father that I haven’t spoke to for almost 25 years has two weeks to live. He is full of cancer. His siblings reached out to my brother to tell him about what is going on. I am not sure how I feel about all of this. He was a horrible husband and a horrible father. He has yet to meet my children which my oldest is 22. Not sure if i should go and see him before he passes or just continue on with my life like nothing.

  38. I had a very toxic friend who passed away just recently.we knew each other for overv25 year,we also work together just as long.she made my life unbearable.very demanding,manipulative,used threat tactics,belittled me,it goes on and on.i made it to retirement,and told myself that this would put space between us to help me end this frienship,but we still would talk on the phone,but not as much,because I felt I no longer had to check in.well one day she called and screamed in the phone and said”oh,u can’t call,well don’t come to my motherfucking funeral either”abd hung up on me as I was trying to explain that I’ve been working at another job,but she hung up before I could get the words out.after that I told myself I’m tired of this,I never called her back,and she never called me back.i remember one time we got into a conversation about one time I had called her out her name,because she was being mean,underhanded and plain rude.i apologized to her after it had happened, but she kept bringing it up months and years later,and I told her.i apologized for that and will not continue to do so”,she said but u hurt me,we was friends,that’s when I told her,yes we were friends,I was a friend,but for 25 years you’ve treated me very unkindly,you belittled me,make rude underhanded remarks,everything i did i say was always wrong.and u know what she said”i made u stronger didn’t it”,never apologizing,never saying I’m sorry.that hurt me because if I could apologize for 1 mistake,she wouldn’t for 25 years of making me hurt,cry and wanting to quit my job.i don’t know how to feel.im sad for her,her family,but I just don’t know about attending her funeral and she may have instructed the family to not let me attend(She was like that)PLEASE HELP

  39. I got one who was emotionally abusive towards me from the time I was 5. He was the father of a friend I made in 1st grade . He thought it was funny to, among other things, scare me by chasing me whenever I came to her house. He did it for years. The family always made sure to tell me that he was “only joking.” It was my fault, of course, because I would run when he tried to chase after me. If only I would stop running. Right. After I was in my teens he would find other ways to harass me verbally. In my 30’s I made the decision to avoid his presence, thereby avoiding all family functions at my friend’s house. I have never said anything, because it would hurt my friend tremendously and she was also 5 when this started and there was nothing she could have done either.

    My issue is that this man will die soon and I will not be the least bit sorry. That’s not the problem. The problem is the funeral, which I think I can handle without having to say anything good about this creep, but am at a loss as to how to handle it when, inevitably because it always does, the issue of his “joking” behavior towards me will come up. This all started happening in the ’60’s, but times have changed and just exactly how egregious this behavior is has now become obvious (as it should have been then, who gets their kicks scaring a skinny little 5 year old). I don’t want to start something, god knows especially at a funeral, but I am not inclined to completely wave this off much longer when the subject is raised in order to elicit my ongoing understanding that it was all a big joke. Maybe the best response is, “Look, the less said about that history the better. I’m willing to let it go if you are.” Which is pretty much the way I feel.

  40. Great to read this as my father died just two weeks ago we hadn’t spoke for 6yrs after he sided with my abuser who happens to be my brother in law, I still don’t know just what it is that I feel, due to the brother in law still being alive and still refusing to take responsibility for his actions. I did go to the police with this but as it is my word against his they can’t do anything. He say’s “I don’t really know”?

  41. I was estranged from my older brother for nearly 20 years. I had cut ties with my abusive mother, and he saw this as a personal rejection and would have nothing to do with me. I never got to see his kids grow up, and I don’t know his grandchildren. Likewise, he never got to know my kids or shared in my life.

    My memories of him are good and bad. I remember him being the protective big brother who would never let anyone do anything harmful to me. I remember his generosity. But he also hurt me physically a couple of times in my youth. One time, he shot me with a BB gun and another time, when I was 13, he punched me in the face.

    Now, he’s in a nursing home in the late stage of death. I went to see him two days ago. He wasn’t conscious, and I don’t know if he could hear me, but I told him I love him and that I was sorry for all he has gone through. It may sound silly, but I felt some “excited” energy from him. It seemed like he wanted to communicate with me, but I’m not sure that what he had to say would be positive or negative.

    And despite everything that has come between us, I’m grieving. It’s a very confusing grief. I guess, more than anything, I grieve for what could have been, and I grieve for him for all of the suffering he has experienced.

  42. I’m finding it difficult what to write on the card that will get attached to the family flowers to a dad I did not have a good relationship with and had not spoken to in the last 2 years , any suggestions

  43. I really want to thank you for this article. I really never feel like I’m “supposed” to feel when it comes to the death of my step mom who abused me throughout my childhood and adulthood. My father is great man; inside and out. This fact made it harder to hold his hand as he grieved the wife he loved so much and the woman who treated me so terrible when he wasn’t around. I felt guilty, angry, relieved, and sad for my father all at once. This article has helped TREMENDOUSLY with dealing with her death, my father’s grief, and my grief for the relationship I will never be able to have with her. I cannot tell you enough how this clear, precise, and well written article has helped me.

  44. This article was good to read. My brother died last night after a dragged out battle with cancer. We weren’t close. He was 17 years older than me and already left home when I was born. I have lovely memories of him from my childhood, but in later years I found I didn’t really like him much. He was a very generous person, and there was nothing bad about him particularly. He was bad-tempered and impatient and often embarrassingly rude to people (he called it straight-speaking!!), but he wasn’t abusive or mean or toxic. His politics led him to believe a lot of things that I found quite abhorrent, but he lived thousands of miles away for most of my adult life so it wasn’t much of a problem. My husband and I visited him last year, all paid for by him, which was fantastic, but we found his company difficult – mind you, he was suffering a lot of pain. I expected to be sad for my Mum and for my brother’s wife and son when he died, but I’m floored by how upset I am myself. I can’t stop crying today. It’s not like his dying is going to leave a hole in my life, as I hadn’t expected to see him more than a handful of times over the coming years anyway, he lived so far away. I guess the bond formed when I was little and he was my exciting big brother off on adventures and bringing me gifts and stories was stronger than I thought.

  45. Thankyou for this article.
    My mother in law has just passed away . My relationship with her was very difficult. She suffered depression and mental illness. I was never able to be close to her and I struggled with her manipulation of her family.The hardest thing for me was her inability to be a grandmother to my three children. She would miss birthdays and make little effort. I do understand she was sick and these were my expectations but that didn’t make it any easier. Strange thing is now she is gone I feel so sad.

  46. Thank you for writing this article, it has really helped me to be kind on myself regards my Dad’s death.

  47. This helped. Right now I have a father in law passing of cancer. He has 2 – 4 mo to live. My husband’s side is in chaos and tears. And I’m just going about life as normal. I have perfected the frowny, concerned face. Honestly, I struggle to find sympathy for a man who never took time to get to know me, dislikes all of my husband and I’s hobbies, is down right rude and crabby 24/7, and makes little remarks under his breath about me. Fyi, he also has no friends. I told my mom he has the personality of a wet dish rag. At least my work pays me 3 days Bereavement when he passes. And, I will buy a new, cute outfit for the funeral. But emotionally?? I don’t care.

  48. I have been in an abusive marriage in every sense of the word for 43 years. Spare me the sanctimonious platitudes about the choice I made for myself and my daughters to stay. They are grown and have scars but are also well functioning adults due to my parenting in large part but also his few good points: steadfast provider; he did not cheat or lie. But he was cruel in the extreme. I am still with him and I struggle with internal rage I try hard to swallow. He is in poor health at 63. I stopped liking him at the beginning and hating him for good in 2009 after a terrible event concerning my own health in which he was seriously neglectful and abusive. My being very ill makes him angry I surmise because if I am, I become inefficient in my duty to care for him in any and all respects. So to the point: I hope you may see why I fervently look forward to widowhood. That is an awful statement that is a burden in the extreme to live with. This has been a particurly bad week with my heart stabbed once again with his cruel statements. I no longer cry, but I rage inside. Not being able to suppress it, which is unusual, I let him have it. I can’t be a rug 365 days a year it seems. Anyhow, thanks for these words of wisdom. It helped me to make a new goal: while there is no way to change him, like him, or refind love: I can try to act towards him what I was raised to be: kind and competent to him in his certain to come frail demise.

  49. This article was just what I needed to read. Thank you.

    My dad passed away earlier this year. He had been mentally abusive to my mum for years and I seriously hated him. When I first found out he has passed I was completely relieved!! Finally my mum would be free of him. However since his death my anger towards him has fadded away and now I’m definitely grieving… For the relationship I wish we had mostly I think. It’s very confusing to feel this way about him.
    Today would have been his 70th birthday.

  50. Thank you for the article, with interesting aspects of different grief. I can relate to much of this. My Mother passed away last month and I had had an enormously close relationship with her as a child as she was a single parent and fought to keep me, having to work for a living to do so (in those days), as a nanny, and later nursing. I was her constant companion, with interludes of being ‘farmed out’ with strange people to help care for me whilst she was working, I even spent many of my Christmas Days on a medical ward with her when she was nursing. Then along came other relationships, she chose, unstable needy men, with mental health problems it seemed and I was rejected in favour of her partners, left to my own devices for long periods and they became her significant ‘other’. this happened over and over and when her adult relationships failed I was there to pick up the pieces for her as she turned to me. I have such mixed feelings, struggled with self worth and now she is gone I don’t seem to know my role or identity in life any more. Was supporting her perhaps partly my purpose? Now it seems I can grieve for all the hurt she caused me, which I dared not acknowledge previously, just because she was my Mother and I was not allowed to blame or criticise her in any way. I still don’t want to find any fault in her, but know the truth of how she treated me in making a succession of step-fathers and their children, more important than me. Complicated grief indeed.
    Karen

  51. My brother died in November. We had a distant relationship, could tolerate each other in social environments, but no we were not close. I cried when I found out he died and a little at the service. But I grieve more for the dog I had euthanized 2 weeks before my brother died. I worked in Hospice for 5 years and the experiences I had made me realize that it was ok to be estranged or to not like someone or to grieve differently. I do feel bad for my other siblings, though. They were so distraught and are so angry at our nephew – he himself had a tense relationship with his dad – and I just don’t feel that way. They say they understand but I don’t think they do.

  52. I really don’t get this bloody nonsense about “closure” – must be more rubbish we’ve imported from the U.S.

  53. Thank you so much for this article. I’ve never read info on something like this. It really validates what I’ve experienced.

  54. Thanks again so much ladies, for all your hard work and for always putting things in ways that are easy to read and understand. I am working with someone right now who had a death in her family that fits this whole post. She found endearing and tender moments with this family member but also found this person to be abusive, manipulative, embarrassing at times, and made life very hard for everyone. I am going to be sharing this with her soon (as I do with many of your posts and materials we’ve ordered at my work :)). This was really timely and I appreciate all you do so much!

  55. Thank you for this. I lost a family member almost 6 years ago, and it was a complicated relationship. We were semi-estranged (due to the person’s mental illness). I feel different from other grievers because of the circumstances of the death (sudden death). I know mine is a complicated grief.

  56. a poem I found quite some time ago and have shared often…
    Today I Talked to the Urn
    It sat on my dresser for over a year,
    A symbol of a relationship that is no more.
    I could barely acknowledge its existence,
    The ashes within were a symbol of things
    I wanted to forget.
    I tried to bury pain, frustration and anger in my heart,
    Telling myself, “It’s over now; time to forget,”
    Forcing the truth deep down,
    So it wouldn’t hurt me anymore.
    But the truth refused to stay buried.
    Pain, frustration and anger
    Kept surfacing in odd ways,
    And I wondered why I couldn’t heal.
    Little by little, bits of insight
    Have made themselves known.
    Bit by bit, I’ve learned about myself.
    Fragments of truth shed light in my darkness.
    Today, I talked to the urn,
    So long ignored.
    As I faced the truth about my anger,
    And about my part in the misery past.
    Acceptance and affection for the one now gone
    Washed over me
    And I asked for forgiveness
    When today, I talked to the urn.
    By Margie Casteel, Littleton, Colorado

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