Recently a dear friend and fellow-survivor, S, lost her toxic mother, and it got us to talking about grief. I sometimes wonder how I will respond when I find out that my parents have passed away.
Losing people is hard enough under the best of circumstances. However when we add the complicated factor of strained and toxic family relationships… all bets are off.
Grief Kicks Us in Emotional Overdrive
The first time I really thought about this was when my sister, who I was still in contact with at the time, asked me if I would attend my parents’ funerals when the time came. “No”, I answered confidently and I stand by that answer. “That’s harsh!” she replied.
To this day I don’t see it that way. In fact, how hypocritical would it be for me to go to their funerals when I don’t wish anything to do with them while they are alive?
When an abuser passes, the pain and trauma do not just magically disappear. In fact I think that, at least for a little while, the grief will kick all those emotions into the next gear.
“When other people have died, I took the good they had brought me in my life. With your death I can’t take the good from it, as your bad the negative stuff overshadows some of the good” – S
In the process of dealing with the death of a parent, we are also dealing (again) with the trauma of an abusive childhood.
Our Day to Day Coping Routine Breaks
In our day to day life, we have developed a certain emotional register that helps us deal. It helps us think and talk about our past without pulling us right back into the whirlpool. When that routine is broken up by grief, but also by other events in our lives, we find ourselves in a place where dealing once again becomes a struggle.
Moreover, in the circumstance of a death in the family… all the players tend to come out of the woodwork.
“This week has been hard for me, not just because of your death, but also dealing with the family drama once again” – S
Every single one of my survivor friends who have been in this situation, tell me similar stories. Siblings informing them through social media platforms, not sharing critical details about funeral arrangements. It seems a perfect situation for the toxic family to resume the games they love to play.
It makes me wonder how I will respond, when the day comes… I know it will impact me, and I know I will manage. With the help of my family of choice!