Relief After A Death: The Unspoken Grief Emotion

Understanding Grief / Understanding Grief : Litsa Williams

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Whenever we ask people about the emotions of grief, whether it is here on the blog, in a workshop, a group, or a class, the word relief inevitably comes up.  We've listed it off a time or two on WYG when discussing common responses to loss, but we'll admit we've only touched on it in passing.  It really wasn't until the other day, after we received a handful of comments about relief following our recent post about suicide grief, that I  realized the experience of relief after a death warrants its own discussion. It would seem we've been remiss for not discussing it sooner.

I'm going to pull a serious 8th-grade book report move here and start the conversation by defining relief.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, there are two definitions:

1. The act of removing or reducing pain, anxiety, etc.

2. The feeling of happiness that you have when something unpleasant stops or does not happen.

So, I'm not sure I would go so far as to use the adjective "happiness", but based on this definition feeling relief after a death, in certain circumstances, does kind of make sense.  Death often comes after a period of intense and prolonged pain, anxiety, worry, fear, and suffering.  Although none of you wanted your loved one die, it's only human to feel relief when their pain and suffering come to an end.  It's also human to feel a tinge of relief when the distress you felt as a result of having to watch your loved one struggle has come to an end.

As logical and as common as the emotion of relief is in grief, it seems like grievers often carry it with them as though it's a deep, dark secret.  For many, relief feels like something they should be ashamed of, it feels wrong, or as though it's something they shouldn't admit to.  This may be the case for a whole slew of reasons, many of which stem back to an interesting assumption about how emotions work.  Well, two assumptions really.

Assumption # 1: People often think they experience emotions one-at-a-time. Typically in any given moment if I were to ask you how you felt, you'd probably identify the most prevalent feeling - i.e. "I am scared", "I am happy", or "I am overwhelmed".  However, in many situations, you can (and often do) feel multiple emotions at the same time.  You may even feel emotions that seem inconsistent with one another.  Ever heard of the phrase "mixed emotions"?

Assumption #2:  People often assume that feeling one emotion somehow detracts from or negates another.  So you may think to yourself - "If I am feeling relief, then I can't possibly be as sad as I should be."   When in reality you can be super sad and also a little relieved at the same time because emotions aren't mutually exclusive.  You can have two emotions about two totally different aspects of an experience. You can feel relief that distressing emotions and physical pain have ended, but this relief does not lessen the devastation and intense sadness caused by the death of a person who you love very dearly.

So while we're busting assumptions and misconceptions, let's discuss a few common experiences related to relief.

1. The person was physically ill and suffering.  Caring for the person was mentally and physically exhausting and it was terrifying to watch the person lose their physical and/or cognitive faculties.

Myth: Feeling relief in this situation means you wanted the person to die.

Fact: Feeling relief in this situations means you are glad their suffering (and/or your suffering as a caretaker) has ended.  You did not want them to leave you, you would give anything for them to have been cured and to have lived pain free.  However, given the existence of ongoing pain, you wanted their suffering to end.

2. The person was suffering from addiction.  Addiction doesn't just impact the person struggling with it, but the whole family.  It can create emotional, financial and legal issues for families.  It can keep families in a state of constant anxiety, guilt, shame, and hyper-vigilance, always fearing an arrest, overdose or death.  It can be a relief when these experiences end.

Myth: Feeling relief in this situation means you wanted the person you love to die.

Fact: What you wanted was for your loved one's addiction to end so their suffering could be over and so that they could be the person they were before their addiction.  Your hope was for recovery, not death.  You relief is not because you wanted them to die, but because the toll of the addiction itself has been lifted.

3. The person was battling mental illness.  As many commenters mentioned on our recent suicide post, the strain of mental illness and the fear of a suicide death can be overwhelming for family members.  Like addiction, there can be a continuous sense of helplessness, loss of control, and anxiety.  The person's death is devastating, but the relief from those constant feelings and experiences is undeniable.

Myth: Feeling relief in this situation means you wanted the person to die.

Fact: Much like with addiction, all you wanted was for your loved one to find manageable treatment for their mental illness so their suffering could end. Your hope was for stability, not death. You do not feel relief because you wanted them to die, but because the anxiety and constant fear has been removed.

4. The person was an abusive person or you and the person were in a problematic/unhealthy relationship. These relationships are often marital or parent/child relationships, but can be true of any type of relationship where a person feels constantly trapped and controlled by another person.

Myth:  Your relief mean you hated the person and wanted them to die.

Reality:  You wanted to escape the relationship.  In many cases, an outside observer may think you could have ended the relationship at any time, but you may have felt it was not possible for a number of reasons.  When the person dies, the death can cause relief because the painful and problematic relationship has ended, even though you may have wished it would have ended in another way.

This does get a little tricky when trauma or abuse is so severe that you may truly be glad they died because it brings a sense of justice, or because no matter what you would have felt fear and anxiety knowing the person was still in the world.  Such experiences, thoughts, and emotions can be extremely complex, so if you are struggling with guilt in these situations you may want to think about talking to a counselor.

If you have been struggling with guilt around feeling relief after a death,  you are most certainly not alone.  There is no magic way to resolve your guilt, but what we hope you will remember from today's post, if nothing else, is that relief is extremely common and incredibly normal in grief.  Feeling relief about certain aspects of your loss in no way diminishes or minimizes your love for the person or your grief from that loss.

Keep the conversation going by sharing your question, comment thought or experience with relief in the comments below.  And, as always, subscribe over on the sidebar to get our new posts right to your inbox!


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After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.

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106 Comments on "Relief After A Death: The Unspoken Grief Emotion"

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  1. David H  May 23, 2023 at 3:26 pm Reply

    My wife of 50+ years passed away peacefully at home after a long illness. Her life was characterized by persistent mental and physical illnesses, beginning with her premature birth and Polio when she was 4. She was a passenger in two rear-end collisions in 1970’s that left her in permanent back and neck pain. Depression and anxiety were constant following the sudden death of her mother in 1973. Her life did not improve, it was plagued with injuries, diabetes, cancers and surgeries.

    I’m describing a life in which the expectations are naturally “Oh, no. What’s NEXT ?” By 2020 she began to openly desire to die. And she was diagnosed with “genetic senile dementia”. She rejected suicide because of her faith.

    Her passing was a relief. Period. The most loving thing I could do is to join her in wishing for it to end.

  2. Jessica  March 5, 2023 at 6:13 pm Reply

    My MIL died today and all I fell is relief. Some of that is because she’s now pain free but most of it is because she was not a nice person. She made mine and husbands lives miserable for years. Now he is free and I’m relieved.

  3. Mary  January 28, 2023 at 8:32 pm Reply

    When my abusive, narcissistic mother died I felt relief. I am finally free from her years of mean-spiritedness, insults, gaslighting, her pitting me against my sister, her invalidating me, and her general crazy-making. When I was a child she told me, “Your father didn’t want you, either” and “When you were you were born your father said you were ugly”. When I had an IQ test at age 10, the results were 136 but she told me they were “barely 120 but only because the psychologist helped me” and my sisters’ “were higher”. As an adult, after she died, I found the paper with the real score. When I foolishly told her about some medications I had begun taking, she told me, “Yeah, I told my friends about your medications and how you didn’t need them. Your doctor really shouldn’t be prescribing those.” Why the hell would my private medical business come up as a topic of conversation with her friends?? When I told her about a new friend of mine, she asked, “Is she a lesbian?” to gaslight me into believing that she would have to have ulterior motives in order to want to be friends with me. She insulted my husband and told me my sister was her best friend. I almost ended up homeless and she wouldn’t help me but she was supporting my sister. She told me she hated having kids, having kids ruined her life but that my life would have turned out better if I had had kids. Yeah right! She resented being a mother. She was angry, bitter, resentful, hateful, selfish, manipulative, narcissistic, sarcastic, abusive, and mean to everyone. She lied about everything. I can finally live my life free from her abuse. I have a loving husband. I felt nothing but freedom when she died.

  4. robert  October 25, 2022 at 1:38 am Reply

    for 4 weeks ive been grieving over my soulmate of 59 years making the transition and sleeping every day for 11 hours each day, i decided to retire this eve when this warm feeling of relief wafted over me, how could this be? GRACE from prayers amidst a month of turmoil. relief is one G/Ds most precious & timely, building blocks of healing and recovery that is provided for us all. i went to shut this computer down and this website appeared. the comfort, comfort, comfort of relief. thank you all ever so much HOPE is indeed eternal. SHALOM

  5. Justina  October 1, 2022 at 11:17 am Reply

    My mom just passed away on the 17th at 68 yrs old. Since then I have been sad, but feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. She was a single mom, controlling, mentally abusive, and I grew up in a dysfunctional household. Now I feel free and just hope she is at peace. The person who is suffering is my lil brother bc she treated him like the “golden child”. I was the scapegoat who took the abuse. He feels like he can’t function w/o her. But this article was very helpful!

  6. Tracey  March 1, 2022 at 11:51 am Reply

    Hello. Thank you for this post. I havent seen one I can relate to directly for my situation, but maybe mine will resonate with someone else. I feel horribly guilty that I’m not sorry my father in law passed away 2 years ago. He was suddenly taken ill in October 2019, with a ruptured stomach ulcer it was only thanks to the consultant on duty that he survived as he was the specialist. At first FIL was told it wasn’t cancer but 3 mths after further biopsies he was told it was and given 3 to 18 months to live. At this point we discovered he’d been sleeping upright in a spare room suffering from ‘indigestion’ – they were big on self diagnosis, yet got this horribly wrong. We knew he hadn’t been 100% after his lymph glands were up in the summer, we told him to go to the Dr and get it investigated. But he didn’t. After 2 months of hospice palliative care, he died in May 2020 during lockdown, he was 86. I unexpectedly felt such relief and was not upset at all, so concentrated on supporting my Husband. Our children (teens) were not upset either, only for how upset their Dad was. This, I think has had an enormous impact on my husband and our relationship has begun to deteriorate after 25 yrs together. He bottles everything up, glosses over and when things dont go his way he’s yelling, stomping around, throwing things while shaking with pure rage. Its getting really scary. My relationship with my in laws was often strained and tense. They were never the welcoming type and it was rarely relaxing seeing them and getting an inquisition or constant and severe scrutiny and passive aggressive comments. They were quite secretive, big on quizzing people without giving anything in return. Always controlling and manipulating people and situations, often badly. At the final stages, my MIL failed to tell the hospital that my husband was next of kin and had power of attorney, only putting herself and his younger brother on the list. BTW at this point she suddenly became helpless, saying ‘what about me?’ As my husband works long hours in a senior position and MIL had not allowed him to speak to his Dad for over 3 weeks before (he’s asleep right now, he’s not feeling well today, etc), I called the hospital to find out which ward he was in etc and to my surprise got through to his nurse, I explained the situation and she said she would call back when FIL was awake. But MIL called back angry and shouting, falsely accusing ME of claiming I had the POA (I was only too acutely aware as that had been a painful process for my husband). It was totally bizarre and I get that she was upset, because she’d been in denial about the prognosis (kept saying he was getting better when he was much worse) and she was being so difficult at the end, wanting to be looked after too – nothing to do with being with my FIL, the hospice had to send her home. Anyway my husband calmed her down and she did apologise – to HIM. I’ve never had an apology and my husband knows how much that has hurt me but does and says nothing. Because of lockdown only my husband and his brother could be with MIL at the tiny funeral so there was a memorial service October 2022. Since then my husbands outbursts are more frequent and more severe but he’s refused to get bereavement or marriage counselling and old cracks in our marriage are becoming ravines. I’m scared that he hates me because I’m not grieving for my FIL and have refused to have anything more to do with my 92yr old MIL, for my own sanity finally. As I’m in my fifties, I had 2 day jobs for 25yrs then raised kids for 15yrs, I want to do what I want now while I still can. Apologies for the long post, it feels like a weight off my shoulders and I hope you won’t judge me too harshly. Thank you.

    • Nicola Willis  July 25, 2022 at 3:22 pm Reply

      Dear Tracey, thank you so much for sharing what you’ve been through and are going through. I don’t feel any judgement for you at all. It sounds like you’ve been through a huge amount. The difficulties with your husband sound incredibly difficult for you. I wish you happiness and love and care. Nicola xx

  7. Samantha Phillips  January 26, 2022 at 11:23 pm Reply

    My older brother passed away from ending his own life. I feel horrible about it for so long I was just so bitchy at him a lot he lived with me and my parents and I was like that with my parents too. Thankfully I did try to be nicer to him last 6 months and when I was mean I went down to tell him I was sorry so that does help but he did so much for me I loved him so much but didn’t show it to him much. I can’t stand wondering if he is in a good place now I wish I knew but that won’t happen till I pass too.

  8. Marie  November 22, 2021 at 1:43 am Reply

    I lost my son age 34 to heroin/fentanyl overdose almost 3 mos ago. He was a smart, funny, sweet, respectful, kind, generous and loving person… using or not using. But he did steal, lie, manipulate and suck the life out of our family through his addiction … a painful 18 years… jail, prison, losing every job. He has a son out there somewhere that we’ve never met. I was able to give him “soft love”at the end, which is the best memory I will ever have. He stayed at our house for a few days in between recovery places and I was able to cook for him, and love him up. We went away on a trip and couldn’t take him with us, when he went to a friends house, he used.. then ended up in a motel where he overdosed.
    About 6 weeks later my mom died after getting COVID pneumonia… she had combative Alzheimer’s dementia. At the end they were both huge burdens… phone calls almost every day that were emergencies. I can’t believe I’m free from all this. I was my moms POA and it was a very demanding situation. Her memory care facility had actually said they could no longer care for her as she was too combative. The COVID was a blessing because when she was released from the hospital she went into hospice. After a couple weeks, they gave her 24 hrs. She died 9 days later. I slept on the floor there thinking every day was her last. It was a getaway for me after we just had my son’s funeral.
    I feel weird because I’m relieved that both of them are gone. My mom was a very broken person, manipulative and loving at the same time. My son was kind of the same.
    I’m at a loss as far as grieving. I feel spaced out and just want to be alone. My husband has COVID right now and I’m kind of happy about that because now I can just relax and not do too much. I don’t have to cook for Thanksgiving! It’s all working out. As long as he doesn’t get really sick from this, it’ll all be good. I don’t have the urge to cry, I have good people to talk to, but I can’t relate to grief books at all.

    • Shannon  January 8, 2022 at 3:12 am Reply

      I am glad you are healthy enough emotionally to understand that feeling relief from the two situations is okay, and it’s totally normal to feel that pressure lifted while also losing someone.

      I just lost an uncle today and, honestly, I am glad he died because he caused so much pain in our family his entire life. Whatever you call it, happiness, relief, feeling justice, karma, the lessening of a very big burden, etc… is not in our plans how that relief was found, but it is still better than the constant anxiety and stress.

  9. A real life jerk  August 17, 2021 at 11:56 pm Reply

    I hope long versions don’t make too many people angry but I need to talk to someone. My brother and best friend of over 40 years died Monday.
    I just retired after 26 years 2 months ago. I had been providing housing for him since he lost his home and business 4.5 years ago. He had limited hospice care. A nurse 3 times a week for one hour. I was his sole caregiver and had moved from my wife and foingo the house I provided for my best friend. I was closest to him so I took the brunt of his anger and I understand that part. I lived there with him while he got steadily worse. Liver shut down so he filled up with fluid and ammonia in his brain. I drained 2 liters of fluid from an inserted catheter in his side every other day. His hatred toward me grew steadily and he refused all his meds except the moribund for the pain. Thank god I had that to help him.
    He tried to set fire to the house twice so I couldn’t shut my eyes for a minute. He had to wear a diaper and I would change it as often as be would allow me to. I usually had to cut it off with a scissors because he didn’t want to change it even when it was dirty.
    The night I had to call for help he had fallen down on the floor upstairs in his room. He weighed over 300 lbs and I have a broken back. I could no longer get him up even with two strong guys helping.
    When I would get a fresh diaper on him he would walk into the bedroom and pull the diaper aside and pee on the wall,door and floor. I had Bern cleaning up after him but I just could no longer keep up. He’d
    do that every 15 minutes due to the fluid pressure in his abdomen. If I was able to get him on the toilet he refused to go and would go instead in the bedroom. I got so frustrated after 4hours sleep in 8 days I kinda lost my cool. I had him on the toilet and begged him to use the toilet. I held hid hands and talked to him for an hour. He said fuck you to me, it wasn’t him anymore and I shouted at him to please use the toilet.
    I shouted at him, not loudly, but I still shouted at him from exhaustion.
    One of the three people in my life that I love deadly and I shouted at him.
    He died in hospital hospice car 36 hours later. After the ambulance took him that nite, after he fell two more times while the ambulance attendants tried to get him down the stairs and loaded up I told him I would see him tomorrow and that I loved him very much.
    I guess I lied to him. I got to my house and literally passed out on top of my shoes and jacket and flashlight and everything else I needed to bring home. My wife and son found me still passed out 16 hours later and advised me the hospice nurse who had come when I called for help that night had told them to hide all my car keys and wallet so I couldn’t leave the house. She said I was having a mental breakdown and need ed to see my Dr ASAP. I never got to see him alive again.
    I shouted at him and that’s something I can never forgive myself for doing. I held his hands and shouted at him. I can never forgive myself for that.I’m carrying so much guilt I just don’t know how to deal with it. I’ve had all the emotions I can handle. My wife and son keep trying to talk to man about it but they just don’t understand the guilt I feel. They heard the commotion over a baby monitor I had put in his house in case I needed to take out the garbage they would listen for him to fall or whatever. My son rushed over to help me that nite/morning at around 2:30 am as I was waiting for the ambulance to arrive with helpers to lift him.
    The Dr.’s and nurses all said I did more than anyone could have done, but they didn’t shout at him. I did.
    I’ve read all the books and they all say these are normal feelings of grief.
    If I didn’t have a wife and sick son I would have already done the deed.
    I know this sounds foolish to many of you, but not to me because I was the one who raised his voice and they just don’t get it.
    I never got to see him before he died because I was basically grounded at the age of 64 and didn’t have the strength to even call a cab to get me to the hospital to apologize to him.
    I go to sleep and wake up drained, then I go over and go thru his belongings to donate to the needy, he would like that, he used to feed the homeless who live under viaducts whenever he could.
    They never shouted at him, I did.
    I can’t get thru this, I don’t think. I know I’m falling apart. I’m now angry at my wife and son and there is no reason to be. I’m mad at myself and taking it out on them and complete strangers.
    I threatened to beat a guy today because he didn’t use a turn signal while my wife was taking me to CVS. I was actually getting out of the car to beat the man when he drove away quickly. I’m not going to a hospital because my part time job says if I get mental health care within the last 5 years to the present day, I can’t work there.
    So somehow I need to get my head fixed, at home without involving medical professionals.
    Believe it or not, I was a kind, caring and helpful person who would help anyone, now I’m a complete jerk.
    I had a broken back before this started, an unrepairable back injury.
    I’ve gotten him up about 7 times alone and now I may end up in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I would do every bit of that all over again except the yelling.
    I think I needed to tell this to someone who might understand what I’m going thru and I think this is the right place.
    I’m sorry this was so long, I actually tried to be brief and for that I truly apologize.
    Thank you for listening
    My head is broken, I know it is and I can’t figure out how to fix it.

    • A real life jerk  August 18, 2021 at 12:03 am Reply

      Forgive the typos, I didn’t see them till I hit publish
      The errors I saw were that I moved out of the house where my wife and son live and the pain meds were morphine, I’m sure there’s more, please forgive them

      • Jae  September 2, 2021 at 6:32 pm

        I just read your story and I feel compelled to write to you. I offer my deepest condolences for the loss of your brother. It is more than evident that you loved him deeply. No one would take such self sacrificing actions like the ones you did if they did not love someone very very much. I understand that you feel guilty based on the turn of events of your brothers last day here. I truly understand. However, your deep grief is clouding your perception and interfering in your ability to see clearly the true nature of the situation. I don’t have to have been present to know that’s true. Because I read your words and you clearly loved your brother intensely. Being a caregiver is one of the most stressful experiences a person can have. In fact, a large percentage of care givers die before the person they are caring from due to the overwhelming stress of it. I can tell you right now I, along with many many people, would have given up long before you did and been unable to offer what you did to your brother. Had I gone as long as you had in that same situation I have zero doubt I would have raised my voice more than once. I know I would have. And I’m not a bad person. Or a real life jerk. And I assure you neither are you. Your actions leading up to that moment are those of a real life angel. Plain and simple. Actually, raising your voice out of sheer human exasperation and exhaustion while standing with your sick brother at a toilet after cleaning up urine and struggling with an injured back to help him and enduring his fits of anger IS an act of kindness because you were trying to get through to him in an important moment. You were helping him BY raising your voice. You can’t see that now because your grief is clouding your mind. As far as not seeing him off to the hospital…you COULDNT. A nervous breakdown is a very real thing and any normal person would have suffered one long before you did under identical circumstances. You went far above and beyond. I am honestly amazed at what you did for your brother. It’s among the kindest acts I’ve ever been aware of. You have nothing to forgive yourself for or to feel guilty about. I promise you that! I truly hope these honest words reach your heart and you experience healing. The last thing you deserve is pain. After all you gave and went through…you DESERVE overwhelming joy and peace.

    • Shannon  January 8, 2022 at 3:27 am Reply

      Jae’s post said it all: …..your deep grief is clouding your perception and interfering in your ability to see clearly the true nature of the situation.

      You need grief counseling. If you only yelled once during all that, you are a saint. No one else would have ever been able to handle that. Your brother was lucky to have such a loving brother as yourself taking care of him. If even the professionals couldn’t handle it, that should tell you how bad the situation was.

      Don’t feel guilty about reacting like a human. If you didn’t raise your voice out of exasperation at least once, I would think there really is something wrong with you. You must have had Angels watching over you and giving you that kind of strength. I think God gave you the strength to care for your brother right up until it was his time to go home. What a wonderful gift you gave your brother.

  10. Rudy  April 21, 2021 at 11:32 am Reply

    My dad just passed away from Pancreatic Cancer. He was diagnosed within 4 months he was gone. The physical changes he went through were staggering, he didn’t even look like the same person at his passing vs. when he was diagnosed. I figured I would have some big emotional breakdown when he passed, much like I did when we found out he was sick, but instead it was a feeling of relief – for him. We will miss him dearly, but he was in so much pain and misery and there was nothing anyone could do. The bad part of this is now I have this strange, empty feeling. I don’t quite know how to describe it and maybe it’s just a lot of energy with no place to go now he isn’t here to fuss over, but it’s kind of an empty, shocked feeling. I’ve known people who have died suddenly, and there is all of this “what-if” thinking you go through with that, but with a terminal illness, there really are no “what-if” thoughts – especially when you understand how deadly the illness is.

    • Jen  November 16, 2021 at 2:08 pm Reply

      I was actually googling how does one feel after a death of a loved one after terminal illness and came across this site. My dad was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in October of this year and passed away few days ago. The physical changes and deterioration happened so fast, we were still trying to wrap our head around the diagnosis. It felt like I started grieving once I new the severity of it. I started grieving once he became bedridden 2 weeks after the diagnosis. I started grieving once I saw the fear and sadness in his eyes. I started grieving once I saw he still wanted to live and had more things to do in this world. I started grieving when he stopped talking and engaging. I wish I could have helped him. I wish there was anything I could have done to ease his fear during the initial stages. I felt the only variable we were able to control was the pain by giving him as many painkillers his body could have handled.

      When he passed, I saw the peace and ease in his face, which gave me this sense of relief and calmness. It gave me a sense he is okay now. It gave me a sense it’s okay to breathe again. I just don’t understand how to hold that space of relief.

  11. Susan  March 28, 2021 at 8:12 am Reply

    My 29 year old son told me for over half of his life that he hated his life and wanted to die. He told me this sometimes daily. I could see how absolutely lost he was. I talked to him about counseling/therapy and medication. He wanted nothing to do with either. Both drug abuse and mental illness were tearing him and me apart. Last April he took his life. It was horrible. He did this while at work. Emergency workers were able to get a pulse and he was rushed to the hospital. My son went through several medical protocols but his brain was dead. He was an organ donor which speaks to the sweet and giving person he was. He was able to donate his heart, kidneys and liver and bone marrow, eye tissue & skin tissue. That’s what he was about ~ that was the son I had and loved. I wanted him to get better. He wanted to leave. A couple of days after he died, I asked my son and God for a sign that he was at okay and at peace. Later that same day I went to check my mail and looked to my right towards my side yard and saw one of the most beautiful, vibrant and brightest rainbows in my 60 years that I have ever seen. The tears flowed and I was wrapped in a feeling of complete love. I miss him everyday but, walk forward in strength. At times I feel that I’m not sad enough or shouldn’t be able to feel peace about his death. His death was tragic but, it was not sudden. Every time he told me he wanted to die a small piece of me would die that day. Today that doesn’t happen so now I wonder if feeling relief is just wrong. Thank you for letting me share.

    • Antonia Potter  June 13, 2021 at 2:53 pm Reply

      I’m so so sorry you’re suffering this dreadful loss. Our son, now 21, has likewise had suicidal ideation all his life and was hospitalized for it four weeks ago but is now out. Is not on the medications, which did help him in the past. I only hope and pray the same fate doesn’t await him and us. My prayers go with you. I’m so glad for that rainbow you were given!

    • Shannon  January 8, 2022 at 3:35 am Reply

      Your son is free and possibly somehow you know he is happy now. Maybe that is where you find the peace.

      I always felt like I am not at home, or I am (my soul) trapped in my body and this is not where I belong at all. But I have never been suicidal. I just feel like there is a better life waiting on the other side, wherever that is.

  12. Mmr  March 4, 2021 at 6:33 am Reply

    My dad died of covid but also had dementia and caring for him really drained me, when i told my partner i was relieved that i no longer had to be his caregiver he said this was bad.

    • Victoria Morales  March 13, 2021 at 8:51 am Reply

      I feel exactly the same. My mom also died from covid and also had dementia. I was her caregiver and I was exhausted. I miss her every day but she is no longer suffering

  13. Shcarry  February 7, 2021 at 8:13 am Reply

    My mother passed away Feb 1st from COVID. I feel a sense of relief from her because she was also in pain for a long time from other injuries decades ago. I’m sad for myself and my brother because we weren’t ready for her to be taken away.

    But I know she is surrounded by love where she is, I can feel it. My guilt comes from selfishly wishing she was still here so I could feel better, hug her, and tell her how much I love her.

    • Isabelle Siegel  February 9, 2021 at 9:33 am Reply

      Shcarry, I’m very sorry for your loss. I hope this article has shown you how normal and valid it is to feel relief after a death. That being said, you’re not selfish for wanting more time with your mother. It’s okay to feel relieved that she is no longer in pain AND upset that she is no longer with you. Both emotions can exist at the same time. All the best to you.

  14. Frankie  January 25, 2021 at 7:16 pm Reply

    Thank you for this post. My husband suffered from addiction and died by suicide. We started process of divorce b/c I couldn’t take the actions from his addiction any longer. He went to rehab but relapsed and refused to acknowledge or get help for mental issues.

    I loved the healthy/clean him so much. But one emotion of many after his passing was feeling relief. Relief from no longer dealing with his addiction & severe depression and resulting behavior. But I miss him so much. It’s such a strange, sad, and sometimes guilt-inducing feeling. Your post has helped a lot.

    • Isabelle Siegel  January 26, 2021 at 11:19 am Reply

      Frankie, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad you found this post helpful and that it showed you how normal and okay it is to feel relief after a death. I completely understand feeling guilty, but please know this: You did not do anything wrong. All the best to you.

  15. Chris  November 3, 2020 at 10:53 am Reply

    Thank you for the beautiful way you articulated my feelings. My Dad died 6 days ago and as I go through the gammet of feelings that come with that, sadness and relief are the two front runners. I actually said the word “relief” when speaking to a friend, and to myself, when I heard that word come out of my mouth, it was as if I said, “Yup, we all had enough. Glad he finally died.”
    No. Relief that my Dad is no longer sick. Relief that my Dad is no longer a ward of a facility, and kept a “prisoner”, cut off from his family, due to Covid. Relief that me and my sisters had the strength to do what my Dad wanted.
    No, emotions are not mutually exclusive. Thanks for that reminder.

  16. Garry Kirk  June 16, 2020 at 12:00 pm Reply

    My 85 year old dad’s sudden death five years ago didn’t leave me sad, just a bit numb, and very relieved. I’d managed to get along with him for many years, and when I figured out for myself as a young adult that he was a profoundly manipulative person, I realized that I probably couldn’t change his behaviour, but I could learn to protect myself and keep him at a bit of distance (his childhood was one of early abandonment and growing up in an institution with no family-type caregivers until he was 8.) My sibs and others in his immediate circle thought my no-tears repose was cold-hearted and showed insufficient respect (which was rather an irony, since the recently-departed had shown little genuine respect for anyone! His will proved that, too.) Fast forward five years, and I have the same feeling about my other narcissistic and manipulative parent. Like most personality traits, these have only become concentrated in her older years, and I anticipate a huge feeling of relief when my mother finally passes. I listen, almost with envy, when I hear friends talk of an aged parent’s gentle ‘fading,’ or even of cognitive decline. To my ears, that sure beats the slippery machinations and constant “me! me! me!” that is my mother’s sole mode of dealing with others. I will feel free and hugely relieved when my parent dies; I’m sure that her self-centred nastiness has ensured mine won’t be the only dry eyes at the service, either.
    There’s nothing wrong with feeling such relief; in fact, I think it can be self-affirming and protective

    • Lisa  August 15, 2020 at 3:24 am Reply

      Thank you Garry.

    • Lana  September 2, 2020 at 7:07 pm Reply

      In 2005, my 82 year old father died unexpectedly. Although his deterioration was noticeable, it was not such that I really thought of it as suffering. After much thought, the only reason I could see for the feeling was my knowledge of how much he feared lingering after a stroke as so many in the family have, and he went quickly.

      Then in 2010, my horse died suddenly. When my husband told me, that same feeling of relief rushed over me. I do not understand it, and have no way of explaining it this time. I expected many more years with her. Perhaps it is shock I am misreading as relief? It is now 2020 and I still find the whole thing puzzling.

    • Sarah  October 29, 2020 at 10:55 pm Reply

      Thank you so much Garry. Reading your post was a comfort to me.

  17. Anonymous  March 30, 2020 at 10:14 pm Reply

    My stepkids stepfather (husband of their biomom) just died suddenly and I’m relieved. I hated him. He was always trying to take my husband’s place as their father. He fed conflict in the coparenting relationship. And I was worried about his influence on the kids as he has a past history of drug abuse and his own adult children are drug users and have done time in jail.
    I feel bad for the kids because they liked him. He was an outgoing guy and probably lots of fun to be around. And I feel bad that their mom is going through this, even though I dont like her much either. I’m worried about how her grief will impact the kids, that they’ll feel responsible for her emotional state.
    I feel guilty that I’m not more sad. In a way I’m almost happy, which is terrible. And theres a degree of schadenfreude mixed in, as they’ve caused us a lot of pain and stress. But mostly I’m just glad we don’t have to deal with him any longer. I can’t admit that to anyone else without them I’m a monster, so I’m sending it out into the internet. I really wish I could talk to someone about it though. It’s a complicated confusing mix of emotions.

  18. Sinclair Thornton  February 22, 2020 at 2:27 am Reply

    I lost my older brother to a short but terribly painful and cruel cancer. While he was ill I felt sick about his suffering and deterioration. We did not have a close relationship but I loved and love him very much. I have not cried since he died and am feeling relief that he is no longer suffering but also relief that I don’t have to deal with the pain of our relationship any more.

  19. Jennifer  February 6, 2020 at 1:07 pm Reply

    Hi. My Grandmother passed about a year ago. She had manic depression all her life. At least all my 42 years of life I had with her. She was so special to me in so many ways. I do have so many fond memories of her and think of her often. The last 3 or 4 years of her life were challenging for my Mother and my Stepfather as she lived with them for over 20 years. The Drs changed her medications and things just went downhill from there. In the end she had trouble walking so she was in and out of hospitals and rehab facilities to get her to walk. Since she had mobility issues and my Mother had to work still, we were searching for full time care facilities to take care of her since my Mother couldnt do so in my Grandmothers state at that time. My Grandmother felt as though she no longer had a desire to live. The hospitals got wind of this on several occasions and she was put in the psych ward at the hospital a couple of times. I felt helpless that I could not help her. I struggled every time I saw her to give her something to live for, laugh at, and encouraged her to get better so we could see more of each other. She still cracked some jokes from time to time but for the most part, she just didn’t want to live any longer. That was the toughest thing to witness and then learn to accept. I am relieved for her that she no longer suffers such pain and turmoil on a day to day basis. I miss her though. I miss the parts of her that cracked jokes, and giggled. Every day I am reminded that we are among the living and that is what we should be doing is Living! We will always have the memories to share and even keep to ourselves. They are OURS to have and keep and continue to make with others. I know that it was my Grandmothers time. She was a month away from turning 89 when she passed. Sometimes I just don’t know how to be there for my Mother when she gets so down about her Mother being gone. Saying I am relieved because she is not suffering anymore and we have the memories and we are among the living are all true statements, but my Mother doesn’t want to hear them. She just wants to cry about how much she misses here and how empty she feels. It is as though I am now trying to find the light or the good in things for my Mother (almost a repeated cycle- that I am frightened to go though).

    • Little Trangerine  January 14, 2021 at 9:43 pm Reply

      Hi . umm, so I found out that one of my brother family member died on his dad side . He dosen’t know yet . I also knew the person . But i don’t feel sad or i wanna cry . I feel happy and relef . Like a heavy weight was lifted off of me . It’s kinda sacry how happy I feel . But he did rape me . but i really don’t care that he died . am i suppose to feel this way.

      • IsabelleS  January 15, 2021 at 11:32 am

        Hi, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through all of this. I hope this article has shown you how normal it is to feel relief after a loss. I also highly recommend you check out this article: Have you sought therapy/support for the sexual abuse? If not, we can privately send you some resources. Please feel free to comment back. All the best.

  20. Tina Williams  January 20, 2020 at 12:30 am Reply

    Hi, my name is Tina, my husband went to heaven four months ago, I too have been struggling with the feeling of erlief and now even the beginning of a new me.
    My husband had Parkinson’s Dementia with Lewy body and Alzheimer’s. It was a long struggle in which I was his sole caregiver. His decline in the last two years was dramatic and traumatic.
    He did not recognized me as his wife, not even recognized our beloved Yorkie ?
    He became aggressive and uncontrollable, me having an anxiety disorder and major depression fell even deeper.
    I loved him, he love me , although throughout our marriage he was not the type of man to show emotions.
    He suffered so much and I with him, I was a widow in rehearsal since the diagnosis.
    When he was picked up with the ambulance do to his aggression and uncontrollable behavior do to his dementia. I was broken, I have many heath issues myself.
    He had an onset aspiration pneumonia and never regained consciousness after ICU, and had to be on Hospice.
    I wanted him to go home, I was hurting, but I was also relieved and now after only four months I feel a little better physically, I feel free to live my own life with out the worries.
    I see some of my friends still in deep grief after months and even more than a year and I feel like there’s something wrong with me.
    I’m too so glad I came upon this blog, because the guilt of feeling the way I do was eating on me.
    Thank you and bless you all

    • Ann C Vipperman  January 15, 2021 at 8:56 pm Reply

      On December 1, 2020 I went to my dad’s home and found him passed away. I knew he was gone. I felt relief for some reason. On December 18, 2019 he suffered from a stroke so the next year until his passing I was his caregiver. Where u saw one you saw the other. We were inseperable for a year unless he was in the hospital or nursing home. That day was such a beautiful day, I had even commented how good his color was and how well he was talking as the stroke caused his speech issues. I loved and love my dad with all my heart God knows I didn’t want him to leave me ever.
      When I found dad on the 1st, I knew he was gone, but I also want to know why did I feel that relief for a few short minutes?? I don’t understand it at all. After that brief few minutes I tried to do cpr to get him back and I prayed and prayed to God to send him back to help me save him. So it’s still been a month and 13 days and I am grieving so bad I’ve had to start counseling. I can’t seem to get over this loss it is killing me. I go to his grave every single day. What am I doing or what could I do to get through this?

      • Isabelle Siegel  January 18, 2021 at 10:40 am

        Ann, I’m so sorry for your loss and for the pain you are enduring. Please take comfort in the fact that feeling relief after a loss is common and okay. You likely felt this relief because you were unknowingly experiencing anticipatory grief, which you can read about here:

        “Relief is normal. In the case of anticipated losses, there can be months, years, and even decades of caregiving that can be overwhelming and exhausting (though adjectives don’t even seem like enough!). When someone dies there can be a sense of relief that is completely normal, but that can also create feelings of guilt. Remember that feeling relief after an anticipated death does not mean you loved the person any less. It is a normal reaction after a stressful and overwhelming time in your life.”

        I am glad to hear that you are starting counseling. Is it helping at all? All the best.

    • Teri  September 17, 2022 at 12:45 am Reply

      Every word of your post was a gift. My husband died 11 months ago after an extremely long illness where he suffered beyond all human comprehension. Almost immediately I felt relief for him and relief for me. Sole caregiver stress is exhausting. I still feel more relief than grief. Thank you.

  21. Larken Koran  November 12, 2019 at 10:46 pm Reply

    I’m happy I’m not alone in this. I babysit these kids and their mom just passed away. She was like a second mother to me. I cried, and i probably won’t stop.for a while, but I was happy she wasn’t going through anymore pain and suffering because of her arthritis. She was such a good person and her having a 4 year old daughter and a 7 year old son. She did so much and she was disabled and there is nothing more incredible then having an amazing mother that can really do anything. Even though shes gone, she is up in the sky where she knows shes being thought about.

    • Dee  December 10, 2019 at 1:35 pm Reply

      Pls promise you will keep in touch with theese kids to let them know as they age what a fantastic mother they had.

  22. Suzanne  October 4, 2019 at 11:36 pm Reply

    Hello. I needed this post as well. I feel so many emotions. My husband was bipolar, and he was abusive towards me, and the marriage had been over for years but he would not let me just leave peacefully. I also found out near the end that he sexually abused my daughter. When he committed suicide, I felt soooo much relief but being with him for 14 years, I loved him also. I think other people will hate me for being relieved, and I hate myself for loving him. This post made me feel like I’m not alone in feeling guilty about the relief part.

    • Sherrie  April 1, 2022 at 10:20 am Reply

      Suzanne, thank you for sharing!

      Similarly, my late husband was mentally ill, abusive and died by suicide two years ago.

      I tried attending a support group because I feel very misunderstood by the people in my life and society. Doing this only made things worse because all members reported to be desperately missing their loved ones and would do anything to have them back. In contrast, I miss him in many ways, however, also know that my life would continue to be a living hell if he were still here. For this reason, I feel a sense of relief accompanied by guilt for feeling this way.

  23. Patricia Johnson  August 31, 2019 at 1:05 pm Reply

    It’s soo hard on me right now. I’m not the same person anymore, especially when I’ve given soo much and seen so little in return.

    I just want to be happy again. Death takes such a toll on your life, and mental state of mind, it just seams like I should be farther than this with my emotions.

    I’m so thankful that I NEVER told anyone, to just get over it….

    All of my life I’ve always been the one to encourage others, but I’m at the point where I need someone to encourage me. I pray that I’m not sounding selfish, however, if it had not been for God on my side leading and guiding me, I would not have made it through this painful time in my life.

    I pray daily to never treat anyone mean and hateful, because words hurt so bad and they can remain in your soul long after death.

  24. Darlene Seals  August 28, 2019 at 6:16 pm Reply

    I truely enjoyed reading all of the post about feeling relief when a toxic, mean, manipulative, narcissistic loved one dies. This is exactly how I felt about my mother when she passed.

    All of the above mentioned PAIN STOPPED. Oh it was such a relief, but I did’t have anyone in my life to explain exactly how I felt.

    I’m so thankful that I ran across this site, just reading all of the testimonies brought so much joy to my heart, because I thought I was the only one that felt this way.

    Thank you so much for all of your good work.

    • Robin  December 21, 2019 at 3:10 pm Reply

      Same here. Happened upon this site and your comment was the first I saw that related to my situation. It wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t think about her every day. She died in 2017. I’m still soooo mad at her though. I’ve lost many loved ones, and grieved them all yet every day I still find myself thinking of her and getting upset even like… cursing her. It’s as if she is still around. That… cannot be healthy.

  25. Jas C  August 23, 2019 at 1:25 am Reply

    My mom had lung cancer. It came out of nowhere and we were told right away that it was stage 4 and pretty much they could do nothing but keep her comfortable. A little over a year after her diagnosis she had started to decline quickly after doing so well with her treatments. In and out of the hospital, seeing my mother struggle with pain and not even the strongest pain pills being able to take her pain completely away, countless nights spent at hospitals getting very little sleep, seeing my mom go from being able to do everything on her own to not being able to even make it to the bathroom on her own, having to use a wheelchair, growing weaker and weaker by the day as I saw her eyes sunken in looking like the life was being sucked from her body. It was my worst nightmare, but this was reality. I don’t know how I remained so strong during this time, I guess I had to. My mom was in so much pain the night she passed on. She was in ICU with a tube down her throat writing that she was in pain. I pressured the nurse for more pain meds, to do whatever they could to make her more comfortable. She wrote that she didn’t want to go through another night of pain. A couple hours later she was gone. Relief can’t even express what I felt. I was a sad, but a strange euphoria came over me as I realized that she didn’t have to suffer through another night of pain ever again.

    • PJ  September 2, 2019 at 9:34 am Reply

      WOW this is my story with my mom to a tee. Ditto ditto ditto

    • Bruce  November 6, 2020 at 9:23 pm Reply

      With a few changes in details this is exactly what I’m feeling. I lost my wife to an aggressive cancer in less than a year. She went from a warm, caring, active woman to an individual unaware of her surroundings and in constant pain in just a few months; and I changed into a full-time caregiver. I was with her in the ICU when she passed and was overcome with sadness and desparately wanting to “rewind” our life a few years, maybe to do things better. But I also felt a sense of relief that she would be at peace. And relief that I no longer would have to handle things that I was totally unprepared for and incapable of doing. I miss her terribly but am dealing with what I need to do and, most of all, glad that we had our life together.

      I am also glad to realize that there are others that feel relief along with the sadness.

  26. Jean Kirschenheiter  July 20, 2019 at 4:16 pm Reply

    I am a gold star mother. My son served in the Army for 20 years. I lost him to the PTSD & Veteran Suicide Epidemic in 2016. I feel the guilt. I talked to him on the phone that very morning. It’s a long story. To post here. He was my pride and joy. I did not no he was suffering after 4 tours in Iraq/ Afghanistan. In some ways I know he not in pain anymore. But now he passed that pain to me.

  27. Laurie Nelson  July 12, 2019 at 1:18 pm Reply

    There is another cause if relief which you didn’t mention. Many LGBTQ people suffer because their otherwise loving parents won’t accept this important aspect of them. Or they are afraid to come out because they percieve that their parents will react badly.

    Six weeks after my husband died, one of my children, age 16, told me she was a transgender girl. I spent 3 days in a panic, and then I hopped on board with all my heart. Can’t see doing it another way.

    I used to say, “my loss, her gain”, because she clearly felt relief when her father died, that she could finally show the world who she was. (I never said that to her, of course!)

    We have different opinions about what her dad would have done. She’s convinced that he could never be supportive. I know he would have, just would have dragged his feet, and ours, on taking any action. In some ways it was definitely easier to be a single mom for this, so I could just do what I thought was necessary, without second guessing all the time. But it was more lonely too. I am sad that my daughter will never hear her father call her my her true name, and that I will never hear him say, “I’m proud of how you’re raising our children, Laurie.”

    I get great support from PFLAG, especially their Chicago based Parents of Transgender Individuals group.

  28. Brenda Cottrell  June 25, 2019 at 11:22 pm Reply

    Thank you. I lost my dad 7 years ago due to illness and my pet just now due to illness. I have the same feelings of relief guilt. I love and miss them so much.

  29. Brenda Cottrell  June 25, 2019 at 11:20 pm Reply

    Thank you . I lost my dad7 years ago due to illness and my pet just now due to illness, I gave the same feelings for each of relief guilt. I love and miss them so much. Thank you again

  30. jollyraster  June 10, 2019 at 11:08 am Reply

    Thank you for posting this. Always makes it better to know you are not alone in your feelings. I have had 2 of these experiences in the last 4 years. One relief from suffering and the other relief from abuse of family members. To see the years of suffering from disease end and to see the years of suffering from abuse end brought me a release. A burden I could now set down and not carry any longer.

    • Tina  July 20, 2020 at 5:13 pm Reply

      I can fully relate… “A burden you can set down and not carry any more.” My mom passed yesterday from a 7 year battle with dementia and I too feel relieved. I “lost” her at least 3 years ago anyways and I’ve been carrying the burden since then of seeing her even further slip away. I do feel like I’ve set that burden down and feel I can breathe again.

  31. Shirley dean  February 24, 2019 at 5:17 pm Reply

    Thank you for this’s really helped me.

  32. Jack Hendron  January 13, 2019 at 8:58 pm Reply

    I was feeling incredibly ashamed that I described to a friend that I felt “relieved” after my brother died from a heroin overdose about a month ago. Thank you for your article, it had very good descriptions of the feelings associated with relief after a death. Of course I didn’t want my brother to die, I wanted so badly for him to do well. Wondering where he was, what he was doing, him begging for money, and expecting his death were all very stressful for myself. He also struggled most his life, and knowing that his struggles are gone and the absence of these stresses creates a sense of relief. If someone asked me how I felt about my brother dying, would I respond “relieved?” Of course not. It’s certainly not my primary emotion. And I can see how it’d be taboo to admit this feeling or talk about it, but thanks for doing so.

    • Kelli  June 14, 2019 at 4:21 am Reply

      I lost my brother just a few days ago, and I felt oddly calm today. I thought seeing my other siblings would make me break down, but it didn’t. I had worried so much about my brother over a long period of time, that part of me definitely feels at peace that I don’t have to worry anymore. Feeling like that has made me feel a little guilty. I’ve definitely cried a lot, and I’ll miss him for the rest of my life, but I don’t want to he sad forever. Maybe that’s part of it too? I don’t know. I might also get really sad all over again next week, or whatever. Who really knows ? Sorry, that was a long reply to you, but I just felt a similarity in our situations.

      • Jay  August 4, 2020 at 11:59 am

        Thank you, I found this article after Googling relief after death. I felt like a monster when my dear sweet dog of 11 years died last week and the wave of relief washed over me. He had been sick for 2.5 years with a terminal illness and slowly declining over that time. I felt like I had been mourning his impending death for that whole time, and that his death was hanging over me waiting to happen and I knew my heart would be broken. Now that he is gone I am so sad, but I feel like I can start to heal and move forward without that perpetual sense of impending doom and I can only describe that feeling as relief. I feel guilty that I am not sad enough but then I remember I’ve been sad about this for 2.5 years already and that’s a lot of sadness to endure.

  33. Christina  January 4, 2019 at 2:59 pm Reply

    This article really helped me work through some of my grief. A former mentor of mine turned out to be abusive to her star student, and later was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I was able to mostly reconcile that after our contact was cut for legal reasons, but I thought about her often and even worked for her sister at a different organization for a while. My mentor recently passed away from a heart attack, and it’s difficult to reconcile all the negative emotions and memories with the positive memories and everything she did for me and my career.

  34. DD  October 21, 2018 at 9:47 pm Reply

    My relief came like a wind through me when I first looked at my Autistic son hanging by a rope after he killed himself. Everyone was in a panic and calling 911. I was swept with this “relief” and it stoped me for a minute. But I kicked in and helped cut my son down . We tried cpr but it was too late. He was 16. He had struggled a lot in the past year. He was an intelligent Autistic which they call Savants. IQ of 148. He felt his Autism was a curse.
    I often go to that door andcremember the wave of “relief” I felt that day.
    How can I explain this? It’s in no way how I feel now and it only lasted about 60 seconds.

  35. Joan christenson  October 21, 2018 at 2:35 pm Reply

    I hesitate to write because my situation is about the loss of my dog of 11 years who was recently put to sleep. My pain though is pervasive as that I experienced after death of family members. However, with my pet i feel sad, but also relief which I did not feel with family. Relief that I no longer have to put her in her hated crate whenever I went out or watch her pace if she thought I may go out; relief I no longer see her get confused due to diminished sight, hearing, possible onset of senility; relief she died before experiencing pain from pancreatitis, unresponsive to extended medical care. I feel such relief I can come and go without worrying about her, relief from the great financial cost. I do not feel guilty about letting her go, but so guilty about the relief I feel as a result of her death. This article, and reading that I am not alone in this journey has been tremendously helpful.!

    • Jeanne B.  May 22, 2019 at 9:42 pm Reply

      You’re not alone. I’m right with you in all of this, having just had to put to sleep my barely five-year-old cat Stanley, and two months later, my 19-year-old died after a sudden and challenging decline. I spent about four months’ wages between January 2018 and last week taking care of sick kitties, and had 23 non-routine vet visits. Olympia survived an emergency pyometra spay. Jasper had three visits for urinary blockages (now under control). Tyler has constipation and possibly megacolon, and he was in and out but our new vet and the new meds seem to finally have that under control.

      Stanley was sick his entire life, first with herpes, then also stomatitis, then last year he developed a grade 3 murmur, HCM, severe anemia, and CKD. His treatment began with a vet visit every four months or so for maintenance shots and devolved into frequent visits, hospitalizations included, and at the end, he was on antiviral, antibiotic, two heart meds, three supplements, and had to be fed several times a day to keep weight on. It was brutal to watch him disappear on me, but the relief I felt when it was over… I have felt SO guilty about that. I want my Stanley back. I want my snuggler. But I can’t have him back without the rest of it, and I don’t want the rest of it, not for him or for me. I’d give anything to have a healthy Stanley back in my life.

      Jake’s end was very short–a week between diagnosis and losing him on Monday, but the care he needed to try to bring him back to “living” was intense, and the prospect of keeping that up for weeks, months or years was daunting. I’m exhausted from Stanley. That was five years of it, plus Tyler had his issues off and on; Zander (RIP) had his until 2016; and I lost Blue to CKD a few months before Stanley appeared, and Ophelia in 2015 at 21.

      Basically, for the past five and a half years, I’ve been a cat nurse running a hospice.

      Tyler still requires daily meds and occasional subQs, but if I miss them for a couple of days, he doesn’t die, he just maybe gets constipated. He’s not a challenge. Taking care of him doesn’t require “relief” at this point. But Jake and Stanley, and the ones before them, required a lot out of me.

      I’m realizing it’s natural to feel relief and it shouldn’t be criticized. Relief is a natural part of grief, and in no way does it diminish the sadness. It also doesn’t matter if it’s relief over the end of that struggle with a human, or with a pet. Life is life, loss is loss, and the stress of caregiving is the same regardless.

  36. Anna  June 28, 2018 at 3:19 pm Reply

    Thank you for this article. I am on the other side of the situation now, where I have a brother (32 years old) that has been using narcotics for the past 10 years, most of the time living in our family home and being physically and financially abusive to my parents. A year ago he suffered a major heart attack and stroke from using, and has been inbetween a hospital and long term care facility since then. He is scheduled to be released into a less secure setting in a couple of weeks, but he’s already started using again, sneaking cocaine into the nursing home at least four times. There’s nothing I’d rather have than for him to be alive and healthy and happy. I’ve prayed for it for a long time. I know however, that he has no intention of being clean, and he’ll go back to using full time when he’s released. We’ve put it off as long as we can, but legally, we can’t keep him locked up there if he’s healthy enough to leave. I have accepted he is going to die, and I actually feel a degree of peace when I think about it. His addiction has taken over every part of our lives. I’m a person of faith and I believe that he will find complete healing when he passes. It will devastate my family forever, but having him alive and using will also devastate us and put others around him at risk. I don’t worry about him dying, I worry about him killing or injuring someone else with his violent behavior. I know that when he passes, I will be devastated at the loss of any more chances for him to recover, but I will feel relief that everyone in his life is safe from his abuse.

    • Tamara Head  November 3, 2019 at 12:21 am Reply

      Hi Anna
      I know this post was from a year ago but yours was the first story I stumbled across similar to mine.
      Ive been dealing with such rollercoasters of emotions because I just lost my brother to an overdose.
      I had stopped talking to him 2yrs ago because I was angry at him as well for the financial and mental stress he put on my parents. Plus he was being mean and threatening people I cared about, etc. And he was violent when he was drinking and using as well.
      Anyhow. Rewind to 3wks ago. We got the dreaded call. He was in the hospital. I had to sit with my parents hoping for a miracle while he convulsed and gagged. Everyone was suffering. I had to go through my charismatic lovable (when he wasn’t using) funny lil brothers death twice.
      First when the part of his brain that made him my brother died when he Od’d and then his body a week later.
      I grieved him before he even died knowing deep down he wouldn’t survive. In the end I secretly hoped he would pass on his own terms so my parents wouldn’t have to make any decisions (Ie. Pull the plug) that would haunt them for the rest of they’re lives.
      Or him live as a vegetable or wake up and be violent and need a feeding tube for the rest of his life. Etc. Etc. Because my parents had already suffered so much I didnt want to see them spend the rest of they’re lives in constant pain.
      So here I am. Some moments I bawl and feel such dread and then I go through days where I barely think about him. It’s only been 3wks and now I worry my feeling ok is unfair. Like I didn’t love him enough when really I know I did. He was a part of me in alot of ways. My brother. My history. My childhood.
      So right now I’m just ok, heartbroken at times. Angry at times but the worst thing is the guilt. If there is one recommendation I can give anyone in this situation is too just make sure your brother knows you love him.
      Stick to your guns. Put up those boundaries if that’s what you’ve done. but answer his 4am messages, tell him you love him so that if/when he dies you don’t have to feel like absolute dogshit cause you cut him off and ignored his messages. That’s what eats me the most. Thinking about him dying thinking I was mad at him or that I didn’t love him. That wasn’t the case. I was just angry. I would give anything to have told him that.

  37. Chris  May 30, 2018 at 6:19 pm Reply

    Thanks for this. I lost my mum a fortnight ago. I loved her very dearly and I was very close, but her depression had got bad over the last two years and her drink problem too. She died in hospital to an unrelated issue and I have been feeling guilty for the small sense of freedom I have been feeling.
    I truly love her with all my heart and I hope she is at peace. I’m proud to have had her as my mum, she gave nothing but pure unselfish love.

  38. Chris  May 30, 2018 at 6:19 pm Reply

    Thanks for this. I lost my mum a fortnight ago. I loved her very dearly and I was very close, but her depression had got bad over the last two years and her drink problem too. She died in hospital to an unrelated issue and I have been feeling guilty for the small sense of freedom I have been feeling.
    I truly love her with all my heart and I hope she is at peace. I’m proud to have had her as my mum, she gave nothing but pure unselfish love.

  39. Persephone  May 5, 2018 at 12:18 pm Reply

    I lost someone to addiction recently. I feel relief on a few levels. The first, of course, is I’m so relieved that he doesn’t hurt anymore, that his addiction is over, and that he’s free of this thing that tortured him and that he hated. But the second, and this is the one I struggle with, is that I’m also relieved I don’t have to be around him anymore or feel guilty for not inviting him into my life. Someone above mentioned their loved one had alcoholism and there were two of him: the loving person and the abusive addict. That’s the case here, too. I would have given anything to take his addiction away. The person he was under that disease was truly remarkable. He was funny, caring, artistic, smart…simply full of life and love. But with the disease, he was scary, manipulative, dishonest, unpredictable, selfish, uncaring, and abusive. It was painful to be near him and I often didn’t have anything to do with him for long stretches of time and avoided him as best I could. I feel guilty about that, too. If I had invited him into my life, would the world have seemed like a friendlier place, a place he didn’t need to escape with drugs? It’s hard for me to separate the relief I have of not having to be around the bad behaviour brought on by addiction from a feeling of wanting him gone, though I know I never wanted him gone, just that awful illness. I am relieved that I don’t have to see the addiction anymore and that it no longer will trouble our lives…but I would give anything if just the addiction could have died and he could still be here—whole, happy, laughing, and free.

  40. Persephone  May 5, 2018 at 12:18 pm Reply

    I lost someone to addiction recently. I feel relief on a few levels. The first, of course, is I’m so relieved that he doesn’t hurt anymore, that his addiction is over, and that he’s free of this thing that tortured him and that he hated. But the second, and this is the one I struggle with, is that I’m also relieved I don’t have to be around him anymore or feel guilty for not inviting him into my life. Someone above mentioned their loved one had alcoholism and there were two of him: the loving person and the abusive addict. That’s the case here, too. I would have given anything to take his addiction away. The person he was under that disease was truly remarkable. He was funny, caring, artistic, smart…simply full of life and love. But with the disease, he was scary, manipulative, dishonest, unpredictable, selfish, uncaring, and abusive. It was painful to be near him and I often didn’t have anything to do with him for long stretches of time and avoided him as best I could. I feel guilty about that, too. If I had invited him into my life, would the world have seemed like a friendlier place, a place he didn’t need to escape with drugs? It’s hard for me to separate the relief I have of not having to be around the bad behaviour brought on by addiction from a feeling of wanting him gone, though I know I never wanted him gone, just that awful illness. I am relieved that I don’t have to see the addiction anymore and that it no longer will trouble our lives…but I would give anything if just the addiction could have died and he could still be here—whole, happy, laughing, and free.

    • 4catmama  August 24, 2019 at 12:44 pm Reply

      I lost my dad to addiction. I was blown away by your comment because that’s exactly how I feel. I read stuff all the time but your comment nailed it all to a T.

    • Rebeca  January 24, 2020 at 3:24 pm Reply

      Thank you for your post. I lost my alcoholic dad recently and have been confused by my relief. I’ve never thought about it the way you describe, in terms of there being the two of them – the person you loved, and their addiction. I think this will really help me process things, thank you so much. I lived him, but I hated his addiction and what it did to my family

  41. Ruth  November 19, 2017 at 8:38 am Reply

    I know what your feelin Sue, my sisters husband passed and it is a blessing. He was mentally and verbally abusive and (Im sure) at times may have physically abused her along with other family members. Having addictions to whatever came his way. It is a blessing he is gone and a major relief to many who had to deal with his problems. I pray for him but have no regrets he’s gone. For years, We were always afraid he was going to kill someone being under different influences.
    Life is so hard at times when things are going good… And then to add these negatives… At times can be unbearable. Dave is now at peace and so are we.
    May G-d bless you all.

  42. Ruth  November 19, 2017 at 8:38 am Reply

    I know what your feelin Sue, my sisters husband passed and it is a blessing. He was mentally and verbally abusive and (Im sure) at times may have physically abused her along with other family members. Having addictions to whatever came his way. It is a blessing he is gone and a major relief to many who had to deal with his problems. I pray for him but have no regrets he’s gone. For years, We were always afraid he was going to kill someone being under different influences.
    Life is so hard at times when things are going good… And then to add these negatives… At times can be unbearable. Dave is now at peace and so are we.
    May G-d bless you all.

  43. Keri  May 24, 2017 at 8:50 am Reply

    My dad passed away this February from cancer. My mom said he was in pain for 3 years, but I knew and saw that it had been many more years (10 at least). He told me when I was 12 that he was ready to die and also kept repeating the line “Life gets worse” over and over.
    To give you a background of it all, my parents are toxic (verbally abusive; my mom is worse). My dad loved my mom, but put her above all else and put up with her narcissism. She treated him terribly and of course that left him always angry and terribly miserable with life. However, despite it all, he stayed with her for 42 years.
    Back in 2008, he came home one day and told me he though he had cancer. I told him to go to the doctor, but my parents were bad about taking care of themselves and sadly he didn’t go until 2014 when it was too late and he was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer.
    The last time we had had a heart to heart, he flat out told me that he had died 2 years ago. I wasn’t sure what to think at the time.
    Also, my parents put me down all the time telling me that I wasn’t going to make it in life, or life would just stop when you get older because (according to my dad) it was going to get worse. I couldn’t cry in front of him because I got yelled at for showing human emotion.
    Fast forward to this year, my dad got worse, but the sicker he got, the more he realized that he was about to get what he wanted. Death.
    Love my dad dearly, but I have cried and been in emotional pain since I was 12 over his mental and physical anguish. I sought counseling, went to therapist, and even started to go to group therapy. I processed the situation, cried, and going through all stages of grief.
    I am 30 years old and now? Relief, finally good sleep at night. Yes. Relief isn’t bad at all. I love him, and miss him so very much and would give anything if he were still here but healthy and happy with life. But I am more relieved that he is no longer in pain and I no longer have to worry. So, thank you for posting this. It really helps.

  44. Darrel  February 16, 2017 at 10:50 pm Reply

    In 2004 I lost my youngest sibling to alcoholisim. I felt partially to blame because I am a recovered alcoholic and she often saw me drunk. But even though I sobered up, it wasnt enough reason for her to stop as well. At the last stages of her addiction she did some things I was worried would be a threat to my parents, so I was often mad at her or try to help her. When we lost her I did feel some relief, but I of course miss her greatly because I had wished she would had sobered up like I did. She was a wonderful sister and close friend when she was sober.
    But now I am about to lose my mom. She has been battling cancer since 2006. At times they claimed she was cancer free. only to find more cancer somewhere else. I feel greatful we got to keep her since 2006. But I still cry my eyes out at times. This past Monday she spoke to me and said she is ready to go. I told her not to give up, but she told me that even though so many were Praying for her, that she couldnt escape cancer. I didnt realize that was our last good conversation. Being that she had cancer spread in her liver, it was now talking hold. That evening she started sleeping alot and now 2 days later she is now unresponsive. She makes noises with her voice while snoring which indicates she is feeling some pain. The nurse said she will probaby be gone within 24 hours.
    A huge part of me is still in unbelief this has happened. Just last week she was so takative and now nothing. A part of me wants her suffering to end but yet I just dont want to lose her. I know I have no choice. Please Pray I get through this ok

  45. Sarah  October 1, 2016 at 2:56 pm Reply

    Thank you. This has given me the permission I needed to kill myself.

    • Eleanor  October 1, 2016 at 5:19 pm Reply


      I don’t want to presume that I know what you’re thinking or what you’re going through, but I promise you that if you harm yourself it will bring pain and sadness to others, not relief. I am sure that there are many people who love you and care about you and these people would be hurt deeply and profoundly if you were to take your life. This article talks about relief as an emotion that people sometimes feel in grief, but this type of relief is small and minuscule when compared with the intense feelings of pain these same people feel because their loved one is gone. After a loved one’s death most people feel that they would trade anything to have their loved one back and I am certain this is the case for those who loved you.

      Please reach out of someone for help immediately. You can walk into your local emergency room or call the suicide hotline 1 (800) 273-8255 (if you are in the US) and +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (if you are in the UK). If you are elsewhere just google suicide hotline and your country name. It is so common to feel as if there is no way out other than suicide, but please know there are ALWAYS other ways.


  46. Kathy Mawer  August 13, 2016 at 6:02 pm Reply

    Eleanor, That is right. For some reason I am not getting the regular posts. I miss them! Thanks, Kathy

  47. Kathy Mawer  August 10, 2016 at 7:45 pm Reply

    I somehow dropped out of the list to

    Receive this invaluable blog. I miss you and need you now in my second year of grief over my son’s suicide. I have told many about WYG.

    • Eleanor  August 11, 2016 at 1:23 pm Reply

      Hey Kathy, do you mean that you’re no longer receiving emails about new posts???

  48. Melinda  June 24, 2016 at 11:12 am Reply

    I am so glad I ran into this article on feeling relief. The night we found our 25 yr old son dead from an overdose, I felt a moment of relief. I have been so ashamed of feeling this emotion, but finally came to understand it wasn’t for his death but for the hyper-vigilant state of fear, worry, anxiety, etc. about the known risks of being a heroin addict that I was living. Your article completely confirmed that for me and I feel even better now about that emotion of relief. Unfortunately this feeling of relief in my case was quickly filled with shock, trauma, and pain so unbearable I didn’t think I would survive. The definition of:The act of removing or reducing pain, anxiety, etc. fit the emotion I felt that night, even though it was a fleeting emotion.
    I have watched my mother now for years go through the stages of Alzheimers and have already grieved over the Mother I once had. With this situation, I wish that something takes her before she goes into those very last stages of this disease. It will end her suffering. Also wanted you to know how helpful this site has been for me in the last 41/2 years since my loss. I share it to every parent and parent groups that has lost a child. Thank you.

    • Litsa  June 25, 2016 at 10:40 pm Reply

      Oh Melinda, I am so sorry for the death of your son but so glad the site has been of support. Relief is an emotion I think many do feel ashamed of, despite how common it is. We are glad to give a space for people to share that they can relate to this feeling. Thank you so much for the kind words about the site. Knowing that it has been a help is what keeps us writing!

  49. Kathy Mawer  June 3, 2016 at 7:44 am Reply

    When I read this posting on relief I was so grateful that your wonderful blog was dealing with something weighing so on my heart. Today I re read the posting and decided to read all the comments as well. I had determined not to comment myself because I did not want to upset my beloved husband. And there he was, the last to write! This is a good example, I think, of why this site is so valuable. Yes, we are talking to each other and walking through this together, but it is sometimes so hard to tell someone even as close as a spouse that one of my grief emotions is relief. Thank you for the way you are helping us all.

    • Litsa  June 3, 2016 at 4:25 pm Reply

      Oh my gosh Kathy, thank you SO much for commenting. This just made me so happy and a little teary. It is a reminder of exactly why we wanted WYG to exist when we started it. Wishing comfort to you both.

  50. Michael Mawer  June 2, 2016 at 6:50 am Reply

    This posting spoke so directly to me as the first anniversary of my son Steven’s suicide (June 6th) approaches.
    Steve suffered for over twenty years from alcoholism and bipolar disorder. When he was sober and stable, he was a sensitive, loving, happy poet. When he was drunk, he was an abusive monster. He and we often spoke about the “two Steves.” I deeply miss the “real Steve.” I cry daily wishing that I could walk with him, laugh with him or go to a ballgame with him.
    Yet I feel relief that I don’t have to see the alcohol ravaged Steve, to endure his abuse to our family, or to cringe when the phone rings wondering what new crisis was happening.
    Thank you for your post about feeling two seemingly contradictory emotions at the same time.

  51. Jo  June 1, 2016 at 1:28 pm Reply

    My husband passed away on May 29 after a very long illness which caused him to have to spend the last 3 years of his life in a nursing home. I prayed that he would just not wake up one morning and when I got a call from the nursing home at 5:30 In the morning I knew before even answering the phone. It’s hard to describe the intense sense of relief I felt, yet so many people could not understand and still expected me to cry and carry on. I couldn’t do it. So when I opened my email on June 1, just 2 days after his death, and saw your article I was so pleased. I felt like you were speaking directly to me. Thank you.

    • Litsa  June 1, 2016 at 4:08 pm Reply

      Oh Jo, timing is an amazing thing sometimes. I am so glad this post came just when you needed it. We will be thinking of you and hope our site is of some support in the months to come.

  52. Nita  May 31, 2016 at 10:20 pm Reply

    Thanks for validating my feelings of relief, though you are not the only ones. I have not had the feeling yet that I had to apologize. I truly am one of the lucky ones. After my husband’s cancer diagnosis last July, he was given weeks to months to live. He chosen no treatment but continued to go on living as if he was going to live much longer. He lived til May 9, recording music in his studio , doing projects around the house and visiting with friends and family. Hospice care was incredible and helped me so much along the way to be prepared for having him die in my arms. Since that moment I have not hesitated to tell anyone that I, and everyone who knew him, have grieved since the moment we learned of his illness and now it is time to celebrate him and his life well lived. Sure I miss him and cry sometimes and will continue, but I feel joyful in knowing that he is no longer in pain and suffering. And I feel so blessed that he was not ripped tragically from me with no time to even say goodbye, nor did he linger in prolonged illness in an altered state of mind or body. To those of you who have had to endure those experiences, my heart goes out to you and I sincerely pray for your healing and that one day you may feel relief and the ability to rejoice in the peace that now enfolds your loved one and allow that peace to enfold and mend your broken heart. Peace and love be with you.

  53. Terri  May 31, 2016 at 6:31 pm Reply

    I was relieved when my father passed away. He was chronically ill for fifteen years, and increasingly difficult as his mental and physical abilities withered away. My mother stayed home and cared for him until she literally couldn’t do it any longer (physically or emotionally), when the effects of his Parkinson’s were complicated by a stroke. Was I sad when I got that phone call? Yes, of course. But that day was a long time coming, and preceded by a ton of heartbreak and worry and the continued mourning that people do when someone is alive, but has a disease that will kill him or her. For a long time I was mad at the universe for delivering this unto my father; he was a good guy, he didn’t deserve to be so profoundly debilitated, but generally, who does? There’s no use in shaking your fist at the sky. I think feeling a sense of relief that it’s over, and that now, finally, we can start to move on, is natural, and normal. Selfish? Maybe. But also healthy. It means we’re still here, and we know that life goes on.

  54. Vicki  May 31, 2016 at 6:25 pm Reply

    The only “relief” I’ve ever felt was when they found Osama bin Laden, one of the jerks responsible for planning the operation that killed him and thousands of others. I’ve certainly never felt any relief for how the death occurred and having ghastly last images (and now sounds from the tape) in my mind of his last moments hasn’t helped me. Nothing before or since has sounded even remotely like his last moments, least of all how people react in fictionalized accounts of what it’s like to die in a structure fire.
    I can’t find relief bc I can’t find any sense in what happened – not even “in reverse.” That’s what a spiritual person called Faith – trusting in advance something that will only make sense in reverse. I agree with Richard, my daughter’s godfather, who said that certain things “won’t make sense in reverse, forward, sideways, up or down.” He was referring to his two sergeants he saw die in Vietnam and he said it on Memorial Day.
    I feel relieved Osama bin Laden is dead for several reasons but the main one is that he was going to live out the rest of his life being like Hitler and just having had killed anyone he didn’t like. He was worse than Lord Voldemort that way.

  55. Deanna Clark Willingham  May 31, 2016 at 1:17 pm Reply

    Thank you for this post. I’ve felt a lot of guilt over the relief I have felt at my husband’s passing. I have worked through much of it but it still jumps up at me once in a while.
    He was ill for over 30 years, the last few were increasingly stressful and the caretaking was intense. I was blessed to be able to retire early to care for him full time the last 3 years, but it was very hard. Soon after he passed someone asked me if I felt relief and I said yes, and we were both shocked.
    I have found a lot of education, support and understanding in your blog and appreciate what you do very much.

  56. Shazza Gilbert  May 31, 2016 at 1:13 pm Reply

    There was more than one occasion when I counseled a friend or family member that it was OK to feel relief that “X” was over. Even though it meant that it ended in death.

    That didn’t stop me from feeling that a horrible person feeling relief when my husband passed from an accidental overdose. I have described him as being ‘passively suicidal’ for the last 3 years of his life–when a MRSA infection started complicating chronic pain, mental health and addiction issues. Each reason you listed above was a check mark in my head. There was a relief on all 3 fronts – 1. chronic neck injury and recurring MRSA infections, 2. Pain killer addiction, and 3. Bipolar disorder.

    I felt so selfish that I was so relieved I didn’t have to take of or worry about him anymore. But that relief was also married with a relief that he was no longer in pain – mental and physical. It felt like I was not only marring my grief, but also marring what the relief I was feeling “should” be. (And don’t we all love those “should” statements when it comes to grief?)

    It’s six years later and I feel like I’ve come to grips with a lot of it. I’ve really been forging a new path in life for myself–but a majority of the grief landmines I run into come from the relief I felt. As much as I know that guilt is not healthy or fair to myself, I still feel it a lot.

  57. Deb  May 31, 2016 at 11:31 am Reply

    Loved this post and how “relief” is framed here. It’s what I’ve been saying myself for many years now. I’ve worked through many types of relief regarding several, very different kinds of losses, and can attest to the fact that, as you say, all these feelings are not “mutually exclusive” to one another.

    Re: #4, yes, I’ve felt GREAT relief over a couple of family members’ deaths. They were both highly abusive people, ruined many people’s lives (and even caused other loved ones to die prematurely), AND were a menace to society at large. To me, it seems a logical conclusion that in light of all that, I’d feel relieved, and personally, not even sad that they’re gone. In fact, I was glad that I and the world were finally rid of them and their destructive actions. There was much relief that at last, they then couldn’t hurt ANY more people.

    Most people don’t want to accept that’s how I feel, however, to which I inwardly respond, “Too bad, you don’t have to like it. It is what it is, and with good CAUSE.” That doesn’t make me a bad person, but more of a realist in this situation. There may be a bit of regret that over the course of everyone’s lifetime, things turned out this way, but given the huge length of time these people were so highly mentally disturbed and wreaking such havoc, I have an overriding compassion for myself for feeling as I do, and am not about to apologize for it. I also view it as having “saved” me more grief, as I’ve had far too much of that already, and largely because of these family members.

    • Sue  June 20, 2016 at 11:56 am Reply

      Deb – My father was a pedophile, so even though I loved him on some level, I was relieved that he would never abuse another person. Talk about mixed emotions.

      • Litsa  June 21, 2016 at 9:15 am

        Sue, I imagine mixed emotions is exactly the term for it. It makes sense that there would be a tremendous sense of relief with this loss, but that doesn’t change the pain that comes when someone close to us, and someone we care about, dies.

    • Anonymous  August 7, 2019 at 9:50 am Reply

      I am reading this article because my aging divorced parents have caused me a lot of unhappiness in my life. My mother is now very unwell and I am so burnt out trying to be empathetic to her although it continues to haunt me how disinterested and detached she has been as a parent to me.
      I do feel I will be very relieved when she dies. I had other older relatives I felt a huge amount of sadness and loss when they passed. My only sense of relief was that they were in heaven.
      I can’t say I have those feelings about my mother. Only will feel enormous relief to be free of this very difficult and unhappy relationship. I do wish her well but know her death will release me from a lot of stress and pain. She was “unwell” in so many ways for so many years. I tried “mission impossible” to
      create understanding and peace. Rationally I know I have given it my all at can to
      free myself personally. She is not a bad person. Just painfully destructive and I don’t think she even knows it. When she eventually passes it will be over and that will give me a sense of relief. I know it already.
      Thank you for this very insightful and honest article. Most people will not admit they are relieved when a family member dies

    • teresa  December 23, 2019 at 3:09 am Reply

      re: Deb thank you so much for your story and has given me much happiness. I too, see your view the same way with a family who has given me much grief all my life. Just horrible people who, like you say, just need gone. I don’t feel nothing and totally relieved they are gone forever. With the rest of the living family and that’s not much left, I have disowned them too. I certainly wont cry over them either! Here I am worried that im no feeling it for these people and why is that so. You my friend have sewn that up in a nut shell. I will never look back again as of today. I will seek out my happiness that has been suppressed for way to long. I say freedom!!

  58. Deborah franco  May 31, 2016 at 10:56 am Reply

    I lost my husband in the floods in Houston tx April 18 2016 I am having a lot of flashbacks of his death please help me

    • Deanna Clark Willingham  May 31, 2016 at 1:20 pm Reply

      Deborah, I’m so sorry for your loss. I will keep you in prayer and hope you are comforted by friends and family in this stressful time.I hope you have a faith community to lean on, if not, know there are others praying for you and your well being.

      • Deborah franco  June 1, 2016 at 4:53 pm

        Thank you so much for caring

    • Elizabeth F  June 1, 2016 at 3:30 pm Reply

      Deborah, this site is not meant to be a substitute for local supports. When someone dies suddenly in a situation like your husband’s, it is common for people to experience trauma themselves. Please contact someone locally and get some help for what you are experiencing. If you are in the Houston area, here are a couple of places to start…
      If you aren’t in the Houston area, doing a web search for crisis services in your area and making a call to find out what resources are available would be a good idea. Please take care of yourself.

    • Litsa  June 1, 2016 at 4:04 pm Reply

      Deborah, I am so sorry for what you are dealing with. Have you connected with a counselor or a support group? I would strongly suggest that as a first step if you have not done so and it may be helpful specifically to look for someone who works in not just grief, but also trauma. If you have not read it, we do have a post about traumatic loss here. If you need help locating a counselor please let us know.

  59. Fee  May 31, 2016 at 9:39 am Reply

    Thank you. I didn’t know how much I needed to see this until it was laid out in front of me in this post.

  60. Alexandra  May 31, 2016 at 7:51 am Reply

    Most beautiful n needed email in a while <3

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