April 19, 2019 was a strange night for me. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the night the police came to my home to tell me that not only had my mother passed away, but being her only child, dealing with the situation was my responsibility. As soon as they told me she was gone, I immediately knew that my life as I knew it was over. At that moment, it felt incredibly daunting & terrible, but as time passed, I realized it wasn’t a bad thing.
I want to share some my story for those of you who are in the position of having recently lost a narcissistic parent or are losing a dying narcissistic parent.
In the time since my mother died, I have run through the entire gamut of emotions. Her death made me angry, sad, hurt, happy, relieved, guilty & more. I also had to deal with things far out of my comfort zone, such as making her burial arrangements, dealing with a huge error the cemetery made when burying my father 18 months prior, & dealing with my mother’s estate. My parents had told me that not only would I never get any inheritance, but they had chosen a neighbor to be the personal representative of their estate. You can imagine my surprise finding out those were all lies.
Anyway, there was good that came from all of this, & that is the point of this post.
Without my parents, so much healing has happened! The crippling agoraphobia I lived with since 1996 has all but vanished. I still get anxious in stores sometimes & try to avoid crowded times, but compared to what it once was, this is fantastic! I can go out alone now!
My self esteem has improved greatly too. I can’t say 100% healthy but I can say a lot closer to that than it once was. As a result, I am setting healthier boundaries now & have even less tolerance of abusive behavior.
There is also a sense of freedom I have never felt in my life. For the first time, I know I can leave home & not run the risk of running into my parents around town. I know when my phone rings, it won’t be either of them dumping all of their complaints about their marriage on me with no respect to how uncomfortable & painful that was for me.
Best of all, yet also the most mysterious of all, is how the level of shame I once felt has decreased drastically. I truly don’t understand the connection but when my mother died, it was as if the toxic shame I once felt vanished. Naturally I’m still not proud of things I have done in my life, but I no longer feel intense shame about them or the person I am. It’s wonderful!
I am telling you this to encourage you. If your narcissistic parent is dying or has died, it is going to be a very hard time for you. You may feel relieved they are gone & then guilt for feeling that relief. You may grieve the parent you never had. You may feel all the years of anger rear their ugly head at once. You may feel numb. You may feel something entirely different. It’s impossible to say what you will feel. There seems to be no way to predict what you will feel other than guilty since that seems to be a constant among others who have lost a narcissistic parent. If you are losing your second narcissistic parent, it may be entirely different for you than when your first one passed. When my father died, I was shocked I felt so numb. I barely shed any tears after his death, probably because I had grieved him so long while he was alive. When my mother died almost exactly 18 months later, I felt devastated. Losing a narcissistic parent is a strange thing to put it mildly. That being said though, it also can open doors to some very good things. When you feel able, look for the good. The good things really can carry you through all of the bad. You will be shocked at just how much good came from it!
Also, I’m not saying only look at the good & ignore the bad. That is unhealthy. Feel the bad feelings. Sit with them. Acknowledge them. Accept that they are there & do so without judgment. Pray about them. Write about them in your journal. Talk about them with a safe friend, therapist or pastor. Have balance & be gentle with yourself during this very trying time.