Grief and Love Are Not Always Linked
What if you lose a loved one when the relationship has been less than perfect?
We hear a lot about the struggles of losing someone special, someone we love… but what if you lose a parent, sibling, or partner and the relationship has been less than perfect?
If they die suddenly, this can present many conflicting and complex feelings. This is especially hard if others don’t know your relationship wasn’t how you’d expect it to be, and there’s an expectation for you to react in a certain way.
You may not have had the chance to say what you really wanted to say to them; whether that’s telling them they didn’t live up to being a good parent, or you didn’t have the opportunity to apologise for your part in that relationship.
You may also feel a sense of guilt for feeling a bit glad they’ve died.
These are normal and valid feelings - but what do you do with all of those feelings? Here are a few tips:
There is nothing you “should” be feeling. Every relationship is unique and so is your grief.
Talking openly about difficult emotions to someone you trust can help. You don’t need to be fixed, you need to be heard. Sometimes, those closest to us have the hardest time supporting us in grief, either because of their own feelings and experiences, or because they’re not comfortable seeing you going through so much hurt. This is where professional support may give you the help you need.
It’s not too late to take care of “unfinished business” to move forward. Activities that promote healing, such as a memory box, journaling, writing letters, or a ritual of release might help.
Keeping it real by remembering the good and the difficult parts of the relationship is a healthy way for you to grieve. Most relationships contain a mixture of both.
Take care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and getting plenty of rest. Self-care will really help with your grief journey.
Keep in mind that what are feeling does not define who you are. Instead of beating yourself up about it, accpet the feelings for what they are, and work through them in a way that enables you to move forward, finding happiness and meaning in your changed future.
Need help? We have plenty of other articles that might help you. Alterntively, you can get in touch with one of our Grief Specialists, who can work with you in a structured, safe, non-judgemental way.
Maria Bailey is an Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist based near Torquay, Devon, where she lives with her husband, three children and two dogs. Maria uses the Grief Recovery Method, a short action programme via Zoom, to mainly help people who have lost loved ones to cancer and Covid-19. You can find out more about Maria here.