When A Narcissistic Parent Is Dying

At of the time I’m writing this, my father is in the ICU on life support, dying from leukemia.  As a result, now I am having to put into practice the things I’ve written about before.

 

When I went no contact with my father earlier this year (prior to his diagnosis), I knew this scenario was very likely to happen.  My father has had a myriad of health problems for years, & is, well, no spring chicken anymore.  So, I prepared- I prayed & thought a lot about what would I do if this happened?  Should I resume the relationship with my parents at the end of their lives, even knowing they won’t improve their behavior or will get worse?  Could my physical & mental health tolerate that?  Should I stay away no matter what?  If I did stay away, could I handle the guilt?  How would I handle the pressure from outsiders telling me to go when I knew I couldn’t do it?

 

Aside from the pain of losing my father, I’ve had many people come out of the woodwork to tell me to go to the hospital to see him.  I should “put my feelings aside so he can die in peace,”  “I only have one set of parents” & more.  One even anonymously emailed me (as if I wouldn’t know who it was?!) information about NPD that she copied from the Mayo Clinic’s site, insinuating that I’m a narcissist for not going.

 

This is the kind of stuff that happens when a narcissistic parent is dying, & you, Dear Reader, need to be prepared for it since it can happen to you as well.

 

To start with, pray.  Ask God to show you what you should do if & when your narcissistic parent becomes terminally ill, & ignore advice from everyone when the time comes.  God knows best what you should do- no human being knows what He knows.  Let Him guide you.  Also ask Him to give you whatever it is you will need when that time comes- wisdom, courage, strength, etc.  You’ll especially need those things if you opt to see your parent or become involved in a caregiver role.

 

Stay close to God.  Talk with Him often.  Let Him strengthen & comfort you, because you’re going to need those things more than you ever have in your life.

 

Ignore the pressure from everyone.  You do what you believe God wants you to do & ignore everyone else.  They haven’t been in your situation, so they don’t understand it.  That doesn’t prevent them from judging it, however.  Ignore them.  You have to answer to God, not people, so obey Him.  You’ll never please people anyway.  Even if you became your parent’s full time caregiver, people would still criticize you, especially the ones who aren’t involved with helping.  (Interesting how that seems to  work- the ones who do nothing usually are the fastest to judge & criticize those who do it all.)

 

Don’t hesitate to block people’s phone numbers, emails or social media.  Yes, it just sucks.  It hurts cutting your own family or friends out of your life, but, you have to protect yourself.  Blocking them will hurt less than allowing them to fill your phone or inbox with hurtful, manipulative, guilt/shame laden messages.  Also, be aware that they may find other ways to access you that you hadn’t thought of.  One of my cousins that I’d blocked used her dead mother’s Facebook to contact me.  That was a shocking moment, seeing a message from my aunt who’s been dead since 2014!  I’ve learned there is no way to protect myself completely- I have to continue blocking various avenues as people try to contact me.  You will find the same thing is true for you.

 

Cling onto what you know is right, no matter what.  I know, it is awful when your parent is dying & you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you can’t say goodbye.  It’s painful for you & makes you feel like a terrible person.  You aren’t though!  Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  (KJV)  In cases like mine, this is exactly what is happening.  They are reaping the awful harvest that they have sown after abusing me for my entire life.  God has been reminding me of this Scripture repeatedly lately.

 

Don’t let people tell you how to feel.  Even well meaning people may do this with comments like, “You shouldn’t be mad at the flying monkeys for coming after you right now- you have more important things to worry about.”  You feel what you feel, acknowledge those feelings, & deal with them however you feel is appropriate.

 

Have realistic expectations.  If you do decide to say goodbye to your dying narcissistic parent, don’t expect a happy ending.  I haven’t once heard of any narcissist having an epiphany & apologizing for their behavior, even on their death bed.  In fact, quite the opposite.  I’ve heard stories of how cruel they can be to their children until their dying breath.  If you are willing to see your parent so that parent can die in peace, or because it will help you somehow to say goodbye, then do it while leaning on God to help you stay strong even when the abuse continues.  And, if at all possible, go when no one else is there.  Avoid the ones who harassed & shamed you.

 

Think about the funeral.  Do you plan to go?  If so, it can get ugly.  Even funerals aren’t off limits to some flying monkeys.  Can you handle any confrontations with grace & dignity?  Can you handle being shunned?  It may be just too much, in the light of losing your parent.  Visiting the cemetery after everyone has gone home may be a much better option for you.

 

Lastly, don’t expect anything normal about grieving your parent’s death.  The death of a narcissist adds a lot of complexity to the already difficult grief process.  Not only are you losing a parent, you’re losing the last shred of hope that things might be better one day.  You’re losing the chance of ever having closure.  You’ll grieve that your relationship was so toxic.  You also are going to feel relief because the abuse is finished, & guilt because you feel relieved.  You can’t fully prepare for all the things you’re going to feel, & it’s going to hit you hard.  Try not to judge how you feel.  Just accept that you feel as you do, & you’re OK.  Speak only with supportive & understanding friends or relatives only about your feelings.  Others will judge you harshly & not understand.  Journal about your feelings.  Read others’ stories about how they got through it.  Don’t rush the grief- take whatever time you need to get through it all.  Most of all, talk to God.  Lots!  He is there for you & wants to help.  Let Him!

 

Also, you may need to grieve other things such as the loss of friends or family you thought would be supportive of you & turned out not to be.  I learned last year that sometimes it’s possible for people to steal your grief.  What I mean is when you should be grieving the loss of your parent, you’ll also have to deal with other things, such as people attacking you for not “doing the right thing” by your narcissistic parent.  You may find it helpful to mentally put them in a box for a while as you grieve your parent, then deal with them later.  I wrote about this topic in more detail in this post: Stealing Your Grief  There’s also a follow up at this link: Update On “Stealing Grief” Post

You’ll get through this painful time, Dear Reader.  It won’t be easy, but it is possible.  xoxo

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32 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

32 responses to “When A Narcissistic Parent Is Dying

  1. jarwithaheavylid

    My father died recently. He wasn’t a narcissist but I grieved our relationship my entire adult like (the last 30 years). It was a shock because he died so suddenly, but so far I have been okay because I grieved him while I was living. When your father dies, you may find that.

    Also, I often think of the narc in my (old) life – how would I feel if he died? I would still feel that he got off lightly. I would still feel that death is too good for him. That’s the awful thing about narcisssitic abuse – that they will never be sorry for the pain they cause, because they are so evily righteous.

    Are you tempted to go and rub his death into him? Tell him he’s going to burn in hell? I would be. I know, it would mean hatred and it would mean we are no better than them, but you must have imagined it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry to hear of your loss of your father!

      I understand grieving a person while they’re still alive. I’ve done that myself with both of my parents. It’s a strange thing, but I think a necessary part of healing from narcissistic abuse.

      No, I’m not tempted like that. I wouldn’t wish hell on anyone, even if it’s deserved because it’s so horrible. I also feel vengeful thoughts & fantasies are a waste of time. I’m too realistic for that sort of thing- it’s just my personality. I need to focus on the here & now. Not trying to sound critical at all because I get that things like that help some people to cope. I just don’t happen to be one of them.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for writing this. I’ve been thinking about this lately. My mom isn’t in the best health. I fear my siblings shaming me and making me feel guilty when that time comes. I wonder if I’ll feel guilty. I know I’ll stand strong and my husband will support me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome!

      They probably will do that to you, sad to say. If you know what’s coming, you can be prepared at least some for it, atlhough chances are, you can’t be fully, 100% prepared. The good thing is you have the support & love of your husband- that will help you a great deal. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ibikenyc

    Oh, Cynthia.

    My condolences for your grief and pain, regardless of the cause(s).

    My mother died in 1985, when I was twenty-six. At the time I knew nothing about who and what she was or how and why things were so horribly out of balance as they were.

    I knew only that I was very, completely, thoroughly relieved and that I felt a LITTLE guilty that I DIDN’T feel guilty about that.

    I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I’d been ambushed even once by Flying Monkeys and their ilk. I’m so glad you have your faith to keep you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, IBikeNYC!

      Wow.. that’s great you didn’t have the flying monkeys to deal with! They are a burden enough but worse so at such a difficult time. I’m extremely grateful to God for helping me stay sane & stick to my boundaries in spite of the ridiculous guilt & pressure!!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This is great advice. I’ve had to think about what I’ll do if informed that my mother is gravely ill. Her health isn’t good and she’ll soon turn 87 so it’s inevitable. My siblings may not even tell me, which would be the best thing for me. But they’ll probably choose to demand that I see our mother and attend the funeral. Neither would be easy or serve any good purpose and there would likely be painful consequences to both or to just staying away. And that’s the frustrating thing about this situation. No matter what I do I will, once again, suffer N abuse because narcissists don’t change. They use every situation, even illness and death, to abuse, and I’ve suffered enough at their hands. I plan to leave it up to God to tell me what He wants me to do and to give me the strength to obey Him. But I don’t want to deal with this. Maybe that makes me a coward but I don’t care. I’m just done with the abuse, and done with the pain. I hope she outlives me.

    Like

    • Suzanne, that’s the smartest thing you can do, in my opinion- leave it up to God to tell you what you should do. He told me with mine, He’d rather I not go, but will support me if I do. Saying He’d rather I not go was good enough for me to stay away no matter what.

      No, it doesn’t make you a coward at all. It makes you someone fed up with narcissistic abuse. That isn’t a bad thing at all. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting comments made in this article. I am guessing that a narcissistic parent is much like an alcoholic/addict parent who is rarely was able to put the child’s interests’ first. I think everyone has to look after their own feelings and do what feels right to them. Al-Anon families learn “tough love” which usually goes against normal instincts and soctietal norms too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was the only one in my FOO who was willing to practice tough love with our NM. And that’s why I’m the only one to go NC.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I agree, Emma. I’ve learned over the years true, Godly love isn’t always what feels good- it’s for someone’s best interest, even if it hurts.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’d go so far as to say that anyone who enables a N to continue to abuse does not love the abuser. If they did they’d tell them plainly that they are sinning, in need of true repentance, and jeopardizing their immortal soul. But most in the milieu of an abuser take the easy way out and just remain silent or even participate in the abuse by condemning the victim. They believe they are taking the moral high ground and being kind to the abuser (while being cruel to the victim), but the opposite is what is really happening.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You know Suzanne, so many people think of love in a completely wrong way. Even well meaning people may think they’re showing loving behavior by enabling an abuser. It’s really sad, but people don’t often understand what true, Godly love is like. Plus, like you said, many want to take the easy way out by not confronting abusers. It’s also easier to confront victims since unlike abusers, we’re usually pretty safe. We can be confronted without screaming, raging, etc. in return. Loving people God’s way isn’t easy. It take courage & not a lot of people have that courage.

          Hope I don’t sound like I’m defending flying monkeys, by the way.. I’m not. These are just some things God showed me as to why they do what they do when I was curious about it at one point some time ago.

          Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: An Update & Valuable Lessons | CynthiaBaileyRug

  7. Wow…talk about Devine intervention! I really needed to read words such as yours, I have been fraught with guilt having been in no contact for 10 months with my N parents. I literally had to move to the other side of the country because I feared for the safety of my family. I just caught word that my N father will be starting end of life care. He comes from a rather large flock of siblings who I can only assume suffer from various mental appendages as the well runs deep in terms of familial abuses. I can feel the pressure starting to ramp up- he would be the fist among them to die. Years ago, I watched as a few of my aunts gave up many things to care for the father that manipulated them all like ponds throughout there lives. As I learned more about the disorder and spread my wings outside of the family realm- I began to see how toxic things really were. As a Christan this was a hard thing to do – judging people for what abuse has turned them into – and turning my back on it and then. I became concerned about how it would rub off on the next generation…my children. I am praying to God daily asking for guidance and thank you for the community you have created hear. I have felt removed from the general population for so long because of what I have experienced from being abused.

    Liked by 1 person

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