Remembering Only Good Things After The Death Of A Narcissistic Parent

One thing that has always baffled me is how people talk about how wonderful that person who died was, even though you know very well that person was an absolute jerk.  As if death somehow turned that sinner into a saint.

A few years back, a former friend of mine lost her mother.  Her mother had abused her terribly for her entire life.  Yet, when this woman died, my friend constantly posted on Facebook how much she missed her mother, she loved her & what a beautiful, wonderful person her mother was.  Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore… I had to ask her why she was saying these things after all the terrible things her mother did to her.  She said it helped her to cope with the emotions if she pretended her mother was a good mother.  Not a healthy coping skill by any means, but she was content with it. 

I think many people probably have the same reason for their similar behavior.  Losing someone you love, even someone abusive, is incredibly difficult & painful.

After my mother died, I caught myself remembering the good things about her.  Those few times we got along well, when we could laugh & have fun together.  The time she taught me to crochet when I was 5.  Little things like that.  I also prayed a lot during this time & knew that not only was she in Heaven, but she also was no longer the abusive & cruel person she was before she died.  I realized that I was starting to do somewhat like my former friend did when her abusive mother died, focusing on only the good about my mother.  While she was fine coping in that way, I wasn’t.  It didn’t feel right or healthy to me.  I got in prayer about it & learned some things.

When you love someone dies, you’re going to miss them.  If that person was abusive, you’re going to miss the few good things about them, if there were any.  If not, you’ll miss the person you wish they had been.  Part of grieving is letting go.  You are naturally going to have a harder time letting go of the good things than the bad, or even the good things you wish would have been. 

Remembering the good things brings some normalcy to a very abnormal situation.  There is absolutely nothing normal about coping with the death of a narcissistic parent.  You can feel as if you’re completely alone, you’re crazy or unreasonable. You also most likely will feel that not one single person on the face of the earth understands what you’re feeling, because what you feel isn’t what most people feel when their parent dies.  Focusing on the good, remembering the good things makes you feel more normal.  It’s normal & socially acceptable to miss the good things about your parent.  In most situations, it’s not normal or socially acceptable to feel glad your parent is gone or relief he or she can’t abuse you any longer.  Unfortunately with narcissistic parents, both of those feelings are totally normal, they just don’t feel that way.

It’s incredibly difficult to mourn the death of a narcissistic parent.  It’s easier in a sense to grieve the normal aspects of your parent, whether they were real or what you wish your parent had been like.  Grieving the death of a narcissistic parent can be complex, confusing, infuriating, sad, devastating & so much more.  When you grieve someone you love, basically it boils down to you miss that person.  Of course that’s painful but it isn’t really convoluted.  You don’t have to deal with all the intricacies & complexities that go along with mourning the death of a narcissistic parent.  If you can make your parent more “normal”, it makes the grief process easier by making it less complex.

I don’t think remembering the positive things about your narcissistic parent is a bad thing in general.  However, if you’re in this situation & remember only the good, that should be a red flag that you aren’t coping with your parents’ passing in a healthy way.  It’s ok to remember the awful times & the abuse, & even to be angry about them.  It’s ok to admit to yourself & others that your parent wasn’t exactly parent of the year.  It’s also ok to be glad your parent is gone & you’re finally free.  These things don’t mean you’re a terrible person.  They mean you’re HUMAN!

2 Comments

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

2 responses to “Remembering Only Good Things After The Death Of A Narcissistic Parent

  1. ibikenyc

    Some of this kind of thing was, for me, just another facet of the habit I got into of modelling what I saw as the normal / healthy behaviour of the “outside world.”

    Liked by 1 person

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