When someone’s parent dies, if they had a good relationship with that parent, or at least the relationship looked good to outsiders, chances are good they will get plenty of support. People will tell them how sorry they were for their loss, bake casseroles & say things like, “If there’s anything I can do, call me.”
When a narcissistic parent dies, however, the scenario is much different. The usual signs of support & love aren’t common. Quite the opposite in many cases. Often, flying monkeys come out of the woodwork to shame the adult child at this time for being such a terrible son or daughter. To add insult to injury, people often don’t know what to say to someone who has lost a narcissistic parent. They seem to think since the adult child wasn’t close to the parent or maybe hadn’t even seen them in quite some time prior to their death, their death doesn’t affect the adult child at all. They may say a brief, “sorry to hear about your parent” & then act as if nothing has happened.
When my parents died, this was my experience. My father died in October, 2017, & I hadn’t spoken to my father in several months, then almost eighteen months later when my mother died, we hadn’t spoken in almost exactly three years. My father was the first of my parents to die. His death was surrounded by flying monkey attacks. They happened frequently for a few months prior to his death, then daily for his final three weeks. When my mother died, it also was an incredibly hard time for me. Thankfully there weren’t many flying monkey attacks, but it was still very difficult. The circumstances surrounding her death & her final few months were tragic, leaving me feeling incredibly guilty for being no contact when she clearly needed help.
The scenarios I described earlier is exactly how things worked for my husband & I. When his parents were getting sicker & frailer, he spent a lot of time with them. He was the only one to take them to the hospital & help them out when no one else would. People showered him with concern & love when they passed away. My husband got through the situation quite well, keeping to himself as is his nature, but no doubt several folks would have been more than happy to listen if he wanted to talk or if he’d needed help. When my parents died, things were very different. Those closest to me were very supportive but those not as close to me weren’t. It was clear they didn’t know what to say or do, so in most cases, they said & did nothing, even acting as if nothing unusual had happened in my life.
Since so many of you who follow my work are in positions more like mine, & you are on my heart to talk to today.
When your narcissistic parent dies, it’s going to be hard. The lack of support & understanding from those in your life may make it harder. And, it really hurts!
I learned something. It’s perfectly normal to feel as I did. If you feel the same way, you’re ok!
For one thing, it’s a shock. Narcissistic parents seem to take up all the space in the relationship. They can feel bigger than life. That means it’s impossible to imagine life without them. It even can feel like them dying is impossible – they’ll always be there. The fact they aren’t anymore is a strange & difficult thing to face.
There’s also the fact that losing a parent is different than losing anyone else. You never lived one single day without your parent. You may not have seen them daily or called often, but even so, the only world you know involved your parents being in it. They were always a part of your reality. That alone makes it seem impossible to make sense of a world without them.
Lastly, whatever the relationship, if you’re drastically affected by your parent’s death it’s because you loved your parent. That is totally normal. There’s nothing wrong with that. That is just as normal as feeling virtually nothing when your narcissistic parent dies because you grieved them enough when they were alive.
Losing a narcissistic parent is a very strange thing to face. Don’t judge yourself for how you feel about it. Just focus on taking care of yourself, & grieving however you need to.