Experiencing Grief After Narcissistic Abuse

A common feeling many people experience after narcissistic abuse is grief.  It makes sense since there is a great deal to grieve!  If the narcissist in question was a parent, you grieve the loss of your childhood, the pain of having a parent who didn’t treat you right or love you, the years wasted trying to please your impossible to please parent, the parent you wish you had & more.  If the narcissist was a spouse, there is grief too, because that person married you not out of love, but out of wanting to use & abuse you.  There is also time wasted with this person that could have been spent in much better ways.  You also may grieve the loss of the person you thought the narcissist was at first.   If you passed up a good person to marry the narcissist, there is regret & grief over losing that good person.  If you had children together, no doubt there is also a great deal of guilt over giving your children this terrible person as a parent. 

Whatever your situation, if you’re grieving after escaping narcissistic abuse, please know you are normal!  It’s awful to experience but it’s also very normal.  Grief isn’t only something to be experienced after someone dies.  It comes after all kinds of losses.

You need to experience & process your grief after narcissistic abuse just as you would after losing someone you love.  It is healing to cry & be angry about the unfairness of it all.  Ignoring it, pretending it isn’t happening or even shaming yourself as if something is wrong with you for feeling this way isn’t healthy at all!

Rather than do those unhealthy things, why not try accepting your feelings without judgment?  They’re not abnormal, they’re not wrong & you aren’t crazy for feeling the way you do.  Stop criticizing them.  Accept them for what they are- your feelings that are completely valid.

As you accept them, sit with them for a while.  Cry or yell if you need to.  I know this can be difficult for those of us shamed for having feelings by our narcissistic parent, so if those are too much, then try writing things out.  If you don’t have a journal, it may be an excellent time to start one.  If you want to be certain no one ever reads it, there are online journals that are private & password protected.  I use Penzu’s free version, but there are plenty of others as well if it doesn’t meet your needs.

I’ve also found writing letters to the narcissist very helpful.  I wrote out everything I thought & felt about what they did, not censoring myself.  The especially important part of this is I never sent the letters.  I wrote them to purge myself of the awful things I felt because of the actions of a narcissist, not to tell the narcissist how they made me feel or to try to make them see the errors of their ways.  Doing such things is a complete waste of time & energy with a narcissist.  In fact, if you do them, chances are you’ll only feel worse after instead of better because the narcissist will try to convince you that you’re oversensitive, overreacting or even crazy.  Instead, I’ve found ripping the letters up & throwing them away or burning them to be very helpful.

If you have a safe friend, relative or even counselor, talking about your grief or praying with them can be very helpful as well. 

You also need to be aware that grief doesn’t have time limits.  You can’t expect to get over the trauma in a set time.  In fact, a part of you most likely always will grieve to some degree, just like when someone you love dies.  It does get easier in time though.  You also learn to rebuild yourself & adapt to your new life without suffering narcissistic abuse. Whatever you choose to do to cope isn’t important.  What matters is that you deal with your grief & accept it as a natural part of the healing process.

12 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

12 responses to “Experiencing Grief After Narcissistic Abuse

  1. Several years ago, I wrote a letter to my mother listing every single thing that I could think of that she had ever done to hurt me. It came out to over 90 pages! I mailed it to her. Certified, signature required.

    The result was that she started telling more vicious lies about me. I should have done like you suggest, torn it up or burned it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Her response seems so typical, sadly. They refuse to acknowledge anything bad they’ve done. The closest they come is blaming victims for “making” them do whatever they did. It’s so cruel & invalidating to do that. It’s even worse when they respond with a smear campaign. I’m so sorry your mother did that to you. Did it at least help you to get it out in writing?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, it did help me to get it all out in writing. And part of me is glad that I sent it to her, even though she reacted with a ramped up smear campaign of vicious, projecting lies.

        What you said about abusers saying that you ‘made’ them abuse you is so true. When my narcissistic ex was cheating on me and physically assaulting me, my mother’s response was: “Something about you just brings out the worst in people, ha ha ha.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Good! I’m so glad it helped you even in spite of the terrible smear campaign!

          Ouch… what a horrific thing to say to you! So heartless! What did you think at the time?

          Liked by 2 people

          • At the time, I was so broken and so beaten down, both physically and emotionally, that I feared it was true. And I literally wanted to die.

            Thank God for the good Christian therapist I finally found, who totally turned my thinking around!

            Liked by 1 person

            • I was afraid you were going to say something like that. It’s so easy to fall into that thinking when you’re in that beaten down state. (((((hugs)))))

              Thank God indeed! I’m so glad you’re hear & healing! ❤

              Liked by 2 people

              • Awww, thanks, Cynthia. I am super grateful for you and your blog. ❤❤

                A few years ago I had my DNA tested through 23andMe. Two days ago, a first cousin I had never heard of sent me a message through 23andMe, wanting to connect because she had just had her DNA tested and I was her closest relative on there. She is my age, born in the same year, and as we talked via the private messaging board and then through phone texts, sharing pictures and stories about our lives, I was both intrigued and scared. I kept thinking ‘Do I really want more relatives? Yikes!’ I thought about you and wondered what you would say, lol.

                Like

                • aww, thank you ❤

                  Oh wow! That's pretty interesting, finding each other like that.

                  Yea I get the "do I really want more relatives?" thought.. lol I met someone on ancestry.com when I had an account that shared my great great grandmother. I was very hesitant to talk to her too. Turned out we did speak but not long.. she wasn't overly friendly & neither was I. Kinda worked out.

                  lol! In cases like that, I say listen to your gut. Naturally you're going to be hesitant, but is it because of what you've been through with relatives or is it because this person shows some red flags? Pray about it too.

                  Yanno something?? This would make a good blog post! No doubt this situation isn't just ours, but others too. Think I'll write about it at some point. You want to too? It is info that can help both your readers & mine.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  • I haven’t seen any red flags at all. Not yet, anyway. But you’re right, I need to pray about this.

                    Here’s the amazing thing: when she sent me her photo, I kept thinking ‘I have seen this woman somewhere before.’ No, she doesn’t look like any of my relatives, but very familiar. I live in New Mexico, she lives in Indiana. Where would I have seen her?

                    She told me that she is an airline stewardess. Bingo! I took a flight from Albuquerque to Spokane, Washington in 2017 and I flew to Hartford, Connecticut in 2019. I flew Southwest airlines and Delta. I asked which airline she flies with. Southwest, she said.

                    As I stared at her picture, it came back to me. As I was disembarking from a flight, I saw her standing just outside the cockpit. She looked a little sad. I felt compelled to tell her how much I REALLY appreciated the work she does. Her face lit up like that was exactly what she needed to hear in that moment.

                    I told her what I remembered saying to a stewardess. She texted back that she believes she remembers that. Wow! How cool is that!

                    Liked by 1 person

  2. annealcroft

    One of the most powerful conclusions and realizations I’ve come to recently, especially after reading this post, Cynthia, is that it is one thing to grieve the death of a parent, even if that parent was a narcissist, and another thing to grieve the narcissism of a parent who, though still walking the face of this earth, is spiritually dead. With that is finding the courage and maturity to accept the fact that there IS no bringing the narcissist back from the dead.

    Furthermore, as their victim and scapegoat, there is absolutely nothing we can possibly do to ever bring them back from the dead or to help them to open their hearts to how deeply and exponentially their never-ending abuse has impacted our life, robbing us of the ability to realize our basic inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Until, that is, we alas find that it is Jesus Christ who has sustained us through our suffering and that He is there now giving us the courage we need to unite our cross with His.

    Though our churches are full of narcissists posturing as Christians, they are devils in disguise. They are barbarians thinking they can have their cake and eat it too, that they can have it all both ways. Ultimately, though we cannot judge what is in someone’s heart, we can judge their actions, and the holier-than-thous who do nothing more than give lip-service to Jesus Christ then turn around and spit in His face by their patent immorality are demoniac.

    “[The Holy Roman Church] firmly believes, professes and preaches that never was anyone, conceived by a man and a woman, liberated from the Devil’s dominion except by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the mediator between God and humanity, who was conceived without sin, was born and died. He alone by His death overthrew the enemy of the human race, cancelling our sins, and unlocked the entrance to the heavenly kingdom, which the fist man by his sin had locked against himself and all his posterity. – Council of Florence (Ecumenical, 1431-1445, Session 2

    The narcissist is incapable of humbling himself, of repenting, of apologizing for his abuses, of asking forgiveness not so much from his victim(s) but from Christ Jesus Himself.

    ” If anyone does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he transgressed the commandment of God in paradise . . . incurred the wrath and indignation of God, and thus the death with which God had previously threatened him and, together with death, captivity under the power of the one who from thenceforth had the empire of death — that is to say, the Devil . . . let his be anathema.” – Council of Trent (Ecumenical 1545- 1563), Session 5

    By theological definition, anathema is a formal curse by a pope or a council of the Church, excommunicating a person or denouncing a doctrine. Therefore, is it possible for the narcissist to be raised from the dead?

    To explore the possibility that narcissism is a genetic defect encoded within our DNA invites further discussion as to how parental and marital relationships are shaped by narcissism.

    In “Sons and Lovers” by D.H. Lawrence, the excessively unhealthy love of a mother for her two sons destroys their capacity to relate to any woman other than their mother. From this classic story we are better able to understand how incest evolves and why our narcissistic parents see incest not as abuse, but as an exploitative entitlement to further abuse their victim.

    Here is the link to an interesting review of “Sons and Lovers” that explores the depths of narcissism within the context of incestuous abuse.
    https://journals.openedition.org/lawrence/1044

    We grieve narcissism in so many ways though intrinsically, we are greatly blessed in that in our suffering we become determined to become better Christians. As Cynthia points out, it is important to accept how we feel, and to embrace the grief as part of our growth and healing.

    Great post, Cynthia. God bless you and thank you for your wonderful work.

    Like

    • You are so correct. There are different types of grief with narcissistic parents. They are all profound & painful.

      Also correct.. there is nothing we can do for these narcissistic parents to bring them back from the dead. Prayer is the only thing we can do & also the most powerful. And thank God for that, since there is nothing else we can do for them.

      Interesting article about the story. What an intense & disturbing read it must be! I’ve heard of it before, but never read it. Now I’m rather glad of that!

      Like

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