Grief is always hard no matter who dies. Grieving someone you love is difficult but what if it’s someone that was not very lovable? If your parent dies and he/she was awful, the grief is very different.
When my mother died in 2014 I was at first shocked because it happened suddenly. She had a lot of ailments but what killed her was a cardiac arrest (we think) so she was just suddenly gone. I had no time to prepare and my concerns were of course about Daddy and my sister. They had a different relationship with her than I did and I knew they would be very sad. So I focused on that. Once all the pomp and circumstance of viewings, funerals and burials were done I was left alone to figure out my own feelings about her being gone. Relief was the second thing I felt. I no longer had to maneuver my way around her narcissim or her clinginess or her abuse. It was odd listening to people tell me about this woman they knew that was a complete different version of the mother I had grown up with. Eventually, in these past 7 years I grieved her death in a very different way. Luckily, I had already seen a therapist about some of our issues and I was in a place where I could look at it all with some distance. I’m happy to say that today I can think of some of the fun times she and I managed to have and I do appreciate that she did the best she could do.
Now, one of my dearest friends is dealing with the death of her father who was not a good person. She was adopted so at first it seemed like she was getting a better life. They shared a love of music and bonded through that. Slowly though his darker side peeked through. He was a pedophile. Through sheer luck, she was not targeted but as years passed she realized one of her daughters had been in his sights. After his death she learned about cousins and other female relatives who spoke up and shared they too were victims. Now how does someone mourn a father who was a monster? How does she grapple with the guilt, anger and shame?
I feel powerless as I watch this beautiful, strong woman become reduced to tears and heartache. If I could take away her hurt I would do it in a heartbeat. But I know too well that it will take time. She will hurt so deeply but eventually the pain will slowly subside and she will merge as a stronger, wiser individual. So on the sidelines all I can do is let her know that I love her and that I am here for her in whatever capacity she needs me -even if it means just leaving her be as she feels what she feels.
Is this how she and other friends felt as I navigated my own grief journeys? Probably so. Thank you for standing by me my beautiful women warrior friends – I heard all of you. I felt all of you. I only hope I can stand beside my friend as you did me. Thank you for loving me and teaching me that I am stronger than I thought I was.