Most people assume there is only one type of grief, the grief that happens when someone you love dies, but there are other types as well.
People also can grieve when they move, get a divorce or lose a job. There is also something known as anticipatory grief, which happens when you know someone is dying. This is especially common in families where someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s due to how this terrible disease destroys a person’s personality before it destroys their body.
Unconventional grief is different. It is grief that is triggered by unique circumstances. I experienced it when learning about the many new limitations because of how damaged my brain was after surviving Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. It also can happen when someone is diagnosed with mental illness or when a loved one has a substance abuse problem. Unconventional grief also can happen as a result of trauma & abuse.
When you grow up with a narcissistic parent or two, & you finally learn about narcissism, although it is a great thing, it can trigger grief. Suddenly you realize that you aren’t the problem, which is certainly good news of course, but realizing what your parent was is difficult & painful to accept. It hurts that the one person who was supposed to love you unconditionally didn’t, & lacks the ability to do so. You also realize how much your parent took from you, such as your childhood & self-esteem. And, it suddenly hits you that there is no hope for your relationship. Prior to learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, most people have some hope that one day their parent will realize what she did, apologize & change for the better. Learning about NPD squelches that hope completely. That is a tough pill to swallow!
Facing these ugly truths absolutely can cause a person to grieve, & it’s extremely painful. It’s also difficult to understand because of the limited view of grief that most people have. How can you grieve when the person in question is still alive?! Well, it’s surprisingly easy to do actually.
When my father died in October, 2017, I didn’t cry. I cry easily especially when losing someone I love, but I didn’t cry. I barely have felt sad at all since he’s been gone. No doubt any of my family that may be reading this thinks it’s because I’m a cold, evil person, but that isn’t the case. It’s because I grieved him enough when he was alive that his death didn’t have a very profound effect on me. And you know something? Many other adult children of narcissistic parents I’ve spoken with have said that they felt the same exact thing when their parent died.
Unconventional grief can be incredibly difficult, but you can get through it.
Pray & pray often. You will need the wisdom, guidance & comfort of God to get through this.
Don’t judge your emotions. Accept them. Examine them without judgement or criticism. Feel them. Pray, talk or write about them to cope with them.
Anger is an especially common part of this sort of grief. If you feel a lot of anger, it’s normal! I know, you probably grew up like most of us with narcissistic parents did, believing you aren’t allowed to be angry. Stop that now! Why are you angry? Face it head on & deal with your feelings. The pain will lose its power over you if you face it.
You also may start to remember only the good times. They are good to remember, but don’t forget the bad as well. Embrace the good & heal from the bad.
Write in a journal. Writing is very cathartic, plus it will help you to have documentation. You may even decide that you enjoy writing, & opt to start a blog or write a book.
Find online support groups & websites. Learning that others are experiencing similar things to you is very helpful.
Don’t expect this grief to end entirely. It will get better, but it may never end entirely. It’s like losing a loved one- you grieve most right after the person died, but even many years later, the pain is still there, just not as intense as it was at first.
If you’re experiencing unconventional grief, Dear Reader, know you aren’t alone. You can survive this! It will take hard work & won’t be easy, but you can do it!
A friend & I were talking recently about some of the dumb things people say to someone who is grieving.
Comments like these may not sound so bad, but they can be hurtful when you’re in the early stages of grief.
The simple fact is people don’t know what to say in this situation. Nothing sounds “right”, so many people say something unintentionally hurtful rather than saying nothing.
If you know someone who has recently lost someone they love, please think before you speak. What may comfort you may not comfort the other person. Everyone grieves differently. Plus, there are various stages of grief, & what may comfort someone at one stage may not at another stage. For example, knowing I’ll see my loved one again one day does NOT comfort me immediately after losing that person or pet. I call it the selfish phase of grief, where I just want them back with me because I miss them so much. Some time later, knowing we’ll be reunited one day is a great comfort.
It seems to me there are only a few safe things to say to someone who is grieving.
Please consider your words wisely when someone you know has lost a loved one. You have the ability to help them or hurt them, so please, choose to help them.
Tomorrow marks the thirteenth anniversary of my paternal Granddad’s passing. Like every single year on May 31, I know I’ll be depressed & missing him more than usual.
Grief anniversaries are rough days, but I think they can be a good thing in a way as well. They remind you of someone you dearly loved yet lost. They gently push you to remember some good times, & the things you loved about that person. As sad as May 31 always is for me, I also look forward to the day in a way because it gives me an excuse to remember the good times, like sitting around what is now my dining room table with Granddad, listening to him telling me stories of our family. Or, going to our favorite little Italian place for lunch & chatting over a yummy meal. I also remember how after his death, butterflies started appearing in my life, comforting me. I also laugh how my talking teddy bear that he liked has started talking without me pushing the button since he passed, & I’m pretty sure he has something to do with my talking bear. His way of saying hi.
Sometimes, too, the day reminds me of the viewing the day before & the funeral. Those memories are extremely hard & all these years later, still make me cry. But, sometimes tears can be a good thing. They can be cleansing & healing. They also are proof of having loved the departed one a great deal. Loving someone is truly one of God’s most precious gifts.
I’ve also noticed grief anniversaries can be spontaneous. The scent of your loved one’s cologne or perfume, the sound of his or her favorite music or even a sport he or she loved can be enough to bring you to tears for missing that person sometimes. Even now, there are times I think, “I should call or email Granddad about this” or “I wish I could talk to him about this” & experience a renewed grief with the reminder I can’t talk to him anymore until I see him in Heaven one day.
I really believe these days are important to acknowledge. They keep your loved one in your heart & mind, close to you, so he or she is never really gone. That is why every May 31 & August 15 (his birthday) I remember my granddad. I also remember days I’ve lost others I’ve loved- my grandmother, great-grandmother, & my furbabies. They’re always close to me, always in my heart.
On this day in 2014, my husband & I lost one of our special cats, Georgie. We adopted him & his brother, Pretty Boy, when they were only about 4 weeks old. They were adorable tiny, fluffy black powder puffs, born to a stray living in a local lady’s yard. She said she was going to have animal control take all of the cats later in the week. Rather than let them take their chances at the shelter, we decided to adopt the brothers. After all, we had lost 2 cats in a short time prior, & another one was dying from cancer- we knew she had very little time left. Kittens always help to cheer us up (they’re so fun & silly!), these two were in need, black cats are the least likely to be adopted & also my personal favorites. It seemed like everything was saying we needed to adopt these two precious little boys.
That was in 2002, & in the 12 years we had both boys, we had a lot of laughs, mostly because of Georgie. He was mischievous & ornery, where his brother is much more serious. In spite of their very different personalities, they were inseparable. Georgie was always Pretty Boy’s protector- if another cat went to mess with Pretty Boy, Georgie intervened, even if the other cat only wanted to play. When Pretty Boy was diagnosed with diabetes in 2011, Georgie was always there to comfort his brother, especially when he came home smelling like the world’s most horrible place, the vet’s office.
Then on April 16, 2014, I realized around 10:00 that I hadn’t seen Georgie since the previous night. I texted my husband who said he hadn’t either. I thought maybe Georgie sneaked outside (as he had a couple of times before), or was hiding somewhere napping. I searched the house & couldn’t find him. He didn’t come when I called, which was very unusual. In a panic, I asked my husband to come home & help me find him. He found Georgie in our bedroom closet. Apparently he passed away in his sleep, why we don’t know.
Pretty Boy was devastated, & as you may know, stress & emotions can play havoc with one’s blood glucose levels. For a month, Pretty Boy’s already sensitive levels could jump 600 points or sink 600 points in a 12 hour period. Thankfully, his glucose levels started to level out after about a month. Pretty Boy has not been the same since losing his brother. He became even more serious, but at least he has developed closer friendships with the other cats.
Losing a furbaby is excruciating for people, but we aren’t the only ones who suffer. Their furry family suffers too. Blood related or not, if you have more than one pet, chances are good that they are bonded to some degree. Maybe they don’t show their love as openly as Georgie & Pretty Boy, but there is a bond there. I have had 27 cats in my adult life, & have lost 17 to date, plus had 3 dogs & lost 2 of them. I can tell you that the survivors always grieve. Not all grieve as hard as my Pretty Boy did for his brother, but there was still a great deal of pain when others passed on. I have seen it over & over
If you have lost a furbaby, please remember this! I know you are suffering, but so are your surviving furbabies. You need to help each other through the grief process. It will help you both to get through & bond you even closer.
How do you help when you feel like you’re falling apart? First, pray. Ask God to help you to help your furbaby. Pray for your furbaby- lay your hands on him or her & pray out loud. I have yet to have one pet not like this. They understand what you are doing, & they do appreciate it! Mine certainly have.
Offer your surviving furbaby extra love. Lots of snuggles & saying “I love you” truly help you both a great deal. Don’t think animals don’t know what you’re saying, only the tone of voice- they understand exactly what you’re saying! And, like humans, hearing a heart felt “I love you” is always welcomed, but especially when they are hurting. This helps you too- when you receive snuggles in return, it helps to lift your spirits.
You can take your baby for a walk- not only dogs enjoy walks, but some cats do as well. In fact, some cats enjoy walking with a harness & leash, believe it or not. If your kitty isn’t a fan, they make pet strollers that safely protect your cat in a netted cage of sorts, allowing her to enjoy the fresh air & remain protected at the same time.
Playing is always a good bonding experience with your pet, & it helps to elevate both your moods. I have yet to meet a dog who didn’t love a good game of fetch or tug of war. Most cats enjoy cat nip, chasing a piece of string or rope & some even enjoy jingle bells or small crinkle balls. The experience also helps to cheer you up because it’s such fun watching your furbaby have fun.
Losing a pet is a painful, horrible experience, but never forget, it also hurts your other pets. They need you now more than ever, & you need them.
Good afternoon, Dear Readers.
I would like to take a moment & ask for your prayers today. Not many of you know this, but this past January, I learned an ex-boyfriend of mine shot & killed his boyfriend, then himself. I would like to ask you to pray for everyone affected by this tragedy. No doubt his family are still trying to come to terms with what happened. And, I can only imagine the anger & shock his boyfriend’s family must still be feeling.
This has come to mind because it was this day in 1990 that I met my ex. I wonder what happened in his life since I last saw him that brought him to such a dark place. He had been arrested a week before his death, & the mug shot that was online & in the local papers showed someone who has been through a very hard life. Someone who looked at least 20 years older than he really was, & I didn’t even recognize.
So anyway prayers for those affected by this senseless tragedy that has affected these 2 families would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much!!
Thank you so much to everyone for your support & kind words this past week. Losing my sweet Georgie then my aunt four days later has been really rough.
Grieving is always painful & difficult, but it’s even harder for me since the C-PTSD fully developed two years ago. C-PTSD seems to exaggerate the normal grief depression, & my anxiety levels are very high. My short term memory is worse than usual, & I’m having more trouble than usual finding words. Just getting through each day is a challenge, because frankly, I’d rather crawl into bed & not come out for a long time. And, tomorrow, I have to drive my father & I an hour one way to my aunt’s memorial service. That doesn’t help the anxiety! I haven’t driven this or any busy highway in probably eight years, so yes, I am panicky.
In spite of how I feel, though, I know God will keep enabling me to get through this hard time. I’m grateful for that. I don’t know how I’d survive right now if it wasn’t for God in my life. He’s even helped me to make some progress on my new book about narcissistic mothers. Usually when I’m grieving or the C-PTSD is flaring up, I can’t work. It’s awesome to me I’ve been able to work at all this past week.
And, the funny part is, I haven’t been praying as much as usual. I withdraw from everyone, even God, during bad times. Thankfully, He understands that, & obviously loves & cares for me anyway.
God is so good! He is so loving, gentle, understanding & kind. If you haven’t thanked God for His love today, I’d like to encourage you to do so now. If you aren’t feeling loved for some reason, then think about what has been going on in your life lately. I bet you can think of little ways that God has shown He loves you. If not, ask Him to show you. And, when you see those things, let Him know how grateful you are. It not only pleases God to hear that, but it makes you feel good, too. A grateful heart, aware of God’s blessings & unfailing love, is a happy heart. It also strengthens you to make it through the hard times, which is what’s happening with me right now.
I’m sorry for vanishing.. it’s been a very painful few days for me, & I haven’t been up to writing in here or in the new book. On Wednesday, my mother’s birthday, we suddenly lost one of our beloved kitties, Georgie. I’m honestly not sure what happened. I am guessing his heart. He passed away quietly in his sleep. Here’s a picture of my sweet little guy..
Since his death, all of us are grieving a great deal, but perhaps no one more than his brother, Pretty Boy. They were extremely close. Since there is no way to eliminate grief, all I know to do is comfort the little guy as much as I can. I came up with an idea that I think is offering him some comfort. I made him a new collar, & put a tiny vial with some of his brother’s cremated ashes in it on the collar. He showed his appreciation immediately by offering me lots of purrs & snuggles. One thing I have learned about animals is they do truly appreciate when we make them a gift. I think it’s sweet. 🙂 If you think of it, please pray for our little family. Every one of us is hurting tremendously right now from our loss. Thank you. I’m hoping to get back to blogging & working on the new book within a few days. As if grieving isn’t hard enough, it’s even ore difficult with C-PTSD. It’s making the usual depression, anxiety & muddied thinking even worse than usual. Thank you for your patience & understanding! xoxo
It seems like everywhere I look lately, I’m seeing something about how no one should indulge in self pity. It’s dangerous to your mental health, & a sign of weakness & immaturity, etc. etc.
I respectfully disagree.
While constantly feeling sorry for one’s self can lead to depression of course, I believe there are times where self pity is normal &, dare I say, even healthy.
–When someone you love dies, why do you grieve? Because you miss that person. That is perfectly normal!
–When you & your first love broke up, you felt sorry for yourself because you were hurting. That too, is perfectly normal.
–And, when you learn that your childhood wasn’t normal, but abusive, you’re going to feel sorry for yourself sometimes. That is completely normal, especially on days when you wake up from nightmares or someone says something that reminds you of your abusive parent, causing you tremendous anxiety.
Although for many years, I shared the common mindset of the dangers of self pity, I have come to realize that it is wrong- self pity is a necessary part of life. It’s a normal part of the grief process, & it helps you learn from painful experiences. It also motivates you to be gentle with yourself during hard times. There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling sorry for yourself sometimes. After all, it is evidence of your compassion. If you can feel sorry for others who hurt, why shouldn’t you offer yourself that same love & compassion? You deserve compassion too!