Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
“We, in essence, have to heal and grieve from multiple doses of betrayal and the accompanying toxic shame and self-loathing and exaggerated feelings of powerlessness.”
Narcissistic abuse survivors are frequently told to “get over it and move on.” This is not only ridiculous and inappropriate, it is also impossible. Abuse victims have suffered from extreme trauma. Understanding that the people we loved never existed and will never be the people we want and need them to be present huge challenges to victims of narcissistic abuse.
Narcissist abuse survivors are left with significant inner conflicts because they are faced with mourning someone they loved who will never relieve or take responsibility for the trauma they inflicted on us and who will not ever return the love our hearts long for. Our attackers have, in effect, gotten away with “murder” they were not held accountable for. Emotionally, these can pose serious healing challenges to the surviving victims.
How, then, do we deal with the loss and heal from the trauma narcissists inflicted on us when they are gone? How do we mourn and grieve the loss of a narcissist when they are still alive, when they are dying or have passed away and we are left with unresolved trauma and unrequited love?
WHY IS HEALING AFTER THE LOSS OF A NARCISSISTIC SO DIFFICULT
One of the main reasons that healing from narcissistic abuse as adults is so difficult is because at that point in our lives, we have been betrayed twice and sometimes even more times. To be betrayed by those we intimately trusted is compounded in adulthood as the repressed pain from childhood and the accompanying sense of defenselessness are repeatedly triggered. So after the loss of a narcissist, we are left to heal from the childhood wounds and grieve our childhood and grieve the loss of love that will be forever unrequited. We, in essence, have to heal and grieve from multiple doses of betrayal and the accompanying toxic shame and self-loathing and exaggerated feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness. So, effectively grieving after narcissistic abuse provides daunting challenges. It requires a reconciliation and a recalibration of our conflicting beliefs as they relate to loss, forgiveness, unrequited love, our lovability, and our pain and suffering.
“Effectively grieving after narcissistic abuse…requires a reconciliation and a recalibration of our conflicting beliefs as they relate to loss, forgiveness, unrequited love, our lovability, and our pain and suffering.”
We can also mistake trauma bonding (e.g. pain- and peptide-addictions) for love. Narcissistic abuse recovery expert Melanie Tonia Evans explains in “Trauma Bonding: Is It Love or Something Else?” that “we were all conditioned to believe that powerful and all consuming feelings, and the ‘not being able to stop thinking about someone’ and ‘feeling an intense attachment’ must mean love…we were taught very little about real love – as a safe, supportive, calm, regenerating and trustworthy entity. And we didn’t realise that true and real love necessitates a deep knowing that you are the other half of a safe, supportive and genuine ‘team.'”
HEALING IS ABOUT US, NOT THEM
Healing, folks, is not about our attackers. Healing is about us. Mourning and paying respects are not about our attackers, they are all about us. We must heal first in order to effectively mourn and grieve. We must go on a journey to figure out why we loved someone who inflicted unrelenting pain on us. To completely heal we must dig deep to release the inner pain and forgive ourselves for the role we played in our own abuse. Self-forgiveness is a critical part of healing.
Read more on the importance of self-forgiveness in healing here.
In healing, rescuing ourselves from our own despair allows us to become emotionally stronger and trusting of our own abilities and self-worth and learn self-compassion that will help us release the shame and the powerlessness and defenselessness we once felt to the unresolved trauma our attackers left us with. Healing will facilitate mourning our childhoods that have passed and the loss or pending loss of the person(s) we once loved and who we once needed to love us by accepting they never existed and will never become who we thought they were. It is a point we reach when we understand and accept the truth about what happened to us from a neutral position of emotional peace without the pain, blame and shame that our abusers shadowed on us.
Read more on the importance of self-forgiveness in healing here.
Healing provides us a divine opportunity to become the authentic persons we were put on this earth to be and thrive. It is at this point that our painful pasts will no longer matter because we have broken our pain addictions and learned to provide our own selves the love and self-respect and self-assurance and self-care that we need to sustain us and thrive and the new found belief that we are worth the effort. We have learned to use our compassion responsibly and we can reliably decide what serves our hearts and souls even in our choices of paying respects when our attackers who we love or once loved have are dying or have died. Even if they are dying, their toxicity is not diminished, just their capacity to act on it. So their “death” or pending death sadly or fortunately (depends on how you choose to view it) essentially forces us into “No Contact” that supports our emotional healing and removes us from the harm from their toxicity.
NARCISSISTS ARE EASY TO FORGET
Memories of narcissists fade quickly. They leave us very few memories to sustain our love so they are quickly forgotten. And once we are healed, memories of them no longer trigger our repressed pain. So they leave us with little of value or meaning to “miss.” Do we miss someone who is not capable of love and parasitically feeds off of their own children? Do we miss someone who leaves us no loving or pleasant memories to sustain our loss? Like Maya Angelou said, “we don’t forget how people made us feel.” She was talking about pleasant feelings.
24 thoughts on “How Do We Heal and Mourn After the Loss of a Narcissist?”
I have a sister that was married to a narcissistic husband for 15 years. He was a neurologist and they had 4 kids. He died 2 years ago, but she still idolizes him and always defends him whenever we try to tell her that what he did is wrong, that he was the bad person ( he was not taking care of the basic needs of the family: for example not buying reading glasses for their daughter which we always used to tell them to do , and he always found an excuse on why he wasn’t buying the glasses, like the eye doctor was very rude or he was trying to swindle us etc., and other needs as well). however she always defends him. When i make an effort to listen to her and let her talk without interrupting, she always comes back to defending him and telling us these very detailed stories about how he used to help people, but then I get frustrated and start telling her that she wasn’t seeing the truth and that he was a bad person who used to disrespect my sister and not take care of his family!
I just want to help but I think I’m traumatized myself from their relationship and I don’t want to make things worse especially for the kids.
Any tips on how I can help her without making things worse? or how can we convince her to talk to a therapist or how can we make ourselves listen to her without our emotions getting in the way and interrupting her?
Hi . I think I really need a therapy. I’m 42 years old who had been living under narcissistic parents. My parents departed when I was a baby. I grew up under emotional abuse without noticing. My father took me in when I was 6 years old to live with him and my Step mother. I was receiving love from the Step mother rather than him more. I would be beaten minor mistake. I remember one day I was beaten for only skipping a line in page where he asked me to write some information for him. I was told that my brother has every right in every thing around the house. Meaning he has to mess and I have to clean after him. He has to sit and I have to do every chores in the house. Until my step mother passed away. I was told to go back to my mother. Guess what he blame me for my step mother’s death at the age of 15. My father told the surrounding people that I have killed her wife due to witchcraft. I was no longer allowed in the house. I remember one day I had to sleep in the toilet. Even if he found me there he told me that I have to leave his house. I had to go and sleep at the police station. I only went there to ask for school uniform. The abuse went on and on. And on my mother’s side it was the same . My older sister would sleep the whole day and I have to come back home and clean after her. I grew up under the treatment until it came to a point that I’m employed. I was the who had to buy food for everyone. If I denied my children would be chased away. Because they were living with her due to night shifts. I Built her a house half furnished it. But it was not enough for her . When I try to do something nice for me . I would receive a silent treatment. What hurt me the most is that. I lost employment and my mother had already started to be sick by then. My siblings asked me to take care of her. She would go to the neighbors to asked for money and tell them I’m using her money for my own personal needs. She would run away from my house. I remember one day I had a fight with my ex family. They then opened a case for me. When I was battling with them . My mother came to me . And threw me with all the clothes that I bought for her and went nextdoor to asked for transport money to leave and bad talked me. Fortunately on that spot my cousin phoned and told me that she was going home for weekend. I asked her to kindly go with she is going to be back with her because she insisted. When my mother arrived home she refused to come back. When my siblings asked her she said I had chased her and I said I was tired of her. Unfortunately my house was on arrears . I then decided to atleast move and rent my house and go and take care of her at home. She was taken by my older brother. When I arrived they would not allow me to see her. She then past away. I’m currently in that house. My siblings tried to hire a hit man to kill me . They said my mother told them that I harassing her verbally and financially. I’m still in the house . Stones would be thrown on the roof and at the windows . They bad mouth me but it’s hard for them because of the thing I done for my mother. Meanwhile they have not done anything for her. Fortunately I managed to find out the reason why I was treated this way . There was a scenario that happened a year before I was conceived. My father discovered about when my mother was pregnant. So there was a lot a of disagreement and everyone refused to take accountability so they shift a blame and shame on me.
I broke thinfs off with my narcissist in October. It was the second time we split.
He pursued me relentlessly even though. I blocked him on everything but email. To be honest, i think i was addictee to the pursuit. He emailed me the day he died wanting me to meet him. I didnt reply until after the car crash that took his life so he never got my message. His son lives out of state so i helped with areangements and went to his house to get some paperwork and such. The day before his friend had gone there and found a woman staying there and another couple and they had refused to leave until the cops made them. They had hidden stuff in the bushes to steal and were caught.
When I got to his house I found pictures of me and him all over and on the walls. There were partial letters written to me in various notebooks and even multiple handwritten copies of a chain of events of the days leading up to the day i had him arrested for attacking me. There was a picture of me rolled up with a voodoo prayer tied with a black ribbon and a red candle with my name on it and a white one with his tied together and burned. There were multiple handwritten copies of him speculating my motives for calling the police on him after he attacked me! Lots of weirdness. Not to mention all the dildos and sex toys and porn in his room. But there i sat crying my eyes out heartbroken.. a part of me wanting to die with him. Im still crying. We havent had the funeral yet. It’s next week! He has been gone a week. The burial is in september. I was doing ok til he died.. sort of. Now im confused, emotionally a wreck, and eegretful i didnt tell him i loved him! All his letters usually started with “what’s wrong with you?” What is wrong with me? How can i hurt so much when he lied to me up until the truck t boned him in the road?
The visitation is Aug.31, 2022 and rhe burial not until Sept.
It is not easy to get over the brutal discard phase with a narcissist. Not when you truly and blindly love someone. Learning about narcissism and how narcissists operate has helped me in making sense. Yet there is still so much that does not make sense. Too much cruelty and cold heartlessness. https://beatrizgrimaldiandmakingwomenhomeless.blogspot.com/2021/07/harri-mutka-and-narcissism.html
My dad just died, he was an undiagnosed NPD who at one point disowned me for 6 years when I confronted him about childhood abuse. He brought me back into his life for the last year before he died, yay for me. But Buddha says to honor your parents, and I’ve examined the texts closely to see if there are any caveats about ditching them if they sucked. There aren’t any, and if a parent is on their deathbed it’s the right thing if you can be there for them. So I played the part of the dutiful firstborn and was there for him. It was a unique opportunity to find compassion for my abuser. Please note that compassion is not sympathy, I just feel for someone who has lived a life of such loneliness and inner turmoil.
I did oodles of therapy and journaling to work through losing my parents before I confronted them about the childhood abuse, and even more therapy and journalling after I was disowned. So I foolishly thought I had worked through my ‘stuff’, and that this death experience would all be a breeze. I was so wrong. But my error brought me joy, because mistakes are how we learn. Also, I’m a child of narcissists – so admitting when I’m wrong is key to not falling in the same trap they live in. So now as a find myself reeling in the finality of his passing, I’m learning more about the grieving process, shaking off the old bits that I missed the first time around, and realizing that grieving for an N is a horse of a different color.
I also managed to sit through the funeral without vomiting, as people who he had violently terrorized for decades said sweet sickly lies about him. I get it, they just don’t see. Cognitive Dissonance and Stockholm Syndrome are in full effect, and will not abate just because he is gone. I might have rolled my eyes a time or two when no one was looking. But I didn’t try to dishonor him or drag out old war stories, I carefully selected a couple of his better moments and thanked him for the many lessons he taught me. Of course, many of the lessons he taught me amounted to: “Never ever EVER behave like this man.” I am so thankful for the inner voice which spoke to me throughout my childhood, and still does today. Things can be different, things can be better. There’s WAY more to love than what my early teachers grasped. But they fed me and kept be alive for long enough that I could figure that all out myself, so in a way I’m thankful.
Also, after all that, I’m thankful for the path which brought me here. My amazing children, my girlfriend and love of my life, having a career I enjoy, all of these things would be different if my childhood had been functional. I love the person I’ve become, and I wouldn’t change a thing in my life today, and there’s always room for more improvement as we go along. Life is a gift.
Thanks for your insights, and good luck in your own healing journey. It’s never over, is it?
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Beautifully written. Would you allow me to post this at my blog under “Mourning the Loss of My Father, the Narcissist?”
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Sure, feel free Evelyn. Sorry for the lag in my reply!
Life is a never ending journey and we can turn pain into wisdom and achieve inner peace and live a joy filled authentic life AND break the cycle of abuse and thrive.
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Reblogged this on Life, Health, Career Coaching.
What a wonderful forum this is. I have been at the hands of a Narcissist for nearly four years now. Only very recently have I been able to learn, from reading such forums, what a victim I’ve been! He has only shown his true colours in the last eight months.. OMG, if only I’d known. There I was thinking it was all my fault. He has just dumped me for the third time. His third and last time as only now do I realise the pathetic games he is playing.
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I think it is unusual, but the narcs’ mask remained intact for 20 years. I’m struggling like hell because there are many things I miss. I thought he was my best friend for 20+ years. It’s been 4 years nearly since the discard. I’ve made no progress in healing a sit pertains to the overwhelming amount of pain and sadness. I’ve become completely isolated and unable to contribute to other relationships in my life, unable to function really. I’m tired. So tired.
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You sound depressed and need to get yourself help immediately. Sometimes we need help to get over emotional fatigue because biochemical changes take place in the body when traumatized over a long period of time. GET YOURSELF COMPETENT HELP ASAP! In the mean time, keep on reading and learning and taking action. Please sign up for my self esteem tips at https://yourlifelifter.com/contact-form-free-self-esteem-building-tips/ Blessings to you in your healing journey! Evelyn
I also have wasted two and one half years of my life, since he left, morning him! What a waste of time!! I have been sitting here for one year now, watching television….NOT PAINTING, the one thing I loved to do….because I lost what I believed to be the “love of my life”……it didn’t matter how he treated me, I just built up all those “goog” things about him, which are all a lie!
What a waste of my time! I married for the forth time!!! What I GUESS I THOUGHT WAS ONE DAY I’LL GET IT RIGHT. He was the perfect description of a Narcissistic personality! Quoted the Bible left and right, was kind to the elderly where I live! On and on I could go! Had me hook line and sinker!
We married after a very short time. I was convinced this was the love of my life! From day ONE, it was terrible! And it just kept getting worse! No job…added 0 to my live monetarily, I supported him! My soc. Security was and is minimal, his was less then mine. I then, started to be threatened with abuse…I finally had to file a restraining order! It was worse then all three of my other marriages put together! I suffered a “break down”. He promised to change, of coarse I believed him. He was in and out of the apt. Four times before it became permanent!
Now after reading your information here, I see for the first time……ME! My disorder! I NEED TO CHANGE! I want my divorce! I want to live again! I want my life! My True life! I am going to do this! Along with getting counseling, which I have already called about. Just waiting for an appointment. The counselor is very busy right now! I cried like a baby when I received this, l could not believe someone could be so kind to me! Thank you from the very bottom of my heart! Judy
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You are so welcome! You are safe and cared for here. I promise. Just focus on the finish line, self-care and self-compassion and make it ALL about you. All about you and read and reread the book!! And keep me apprised of your progress and lessons learned. And you deserve ALL the kindness in the world. Just remember, they target us because we are kind generous compassionate wonderful warm loving people and we provide them what they cannot provide themselves. They are evil and prey on people like us. We can heal. They cannot. The book includes tools and tips that will serve as an adjunct to your therapy. Blessings to you in your search for truth! Evelyn xo
I shall also repeat to you the message i sent Crystal below….
Just hang in there…Baby steps, my dear and self-care and self-compassion. Take very very good care of yourself. We have to mourn what never was and understand that YOUR love was real. YOU did not do anything wrong and were just seeking love…so forgive yourself for your complicity. These emotional vampires find us, groom us, con us and manipulate our energy from us. But why did we love someone who inflicted such pain on us? We cannot heal at the same level of thinking that causes our emotional pain and that makes us vulnerable to emotional vampires. In healing, we answer that question and rescue our own selves and sacrifice for own healing and recovery and in the process we not only rebuild but come back stronger. I and so many others at my page are living testaments to our real power and strength..we take our power back and learn to become better versions of ourselves. You are worth so much better and I am here to help you take your power back and understand the level of love, compassion, and caring you truly deserve. You are safe and respected here….and very much appreciated. Blessings! Evelyn
I just want to say thank you for posting this, I am a few weeks into the divorce and I still can’t accept it, he made me so happy, and there are times I remember crying and begging God to make the pain go away, and now I sit back and catch myself wanting so badly to hold on to the happy times when he really did make me feel like a princess, that maybe it was my fault or I could have done things differently, or that mistakes I may have made, made him worse. I feel alone, I know that if I stood back and heard someone tell me the story I have lived, I would have told them they needed to leave, but I can’t accept it myself. I still love him. I wish I could commit to No Contact without him filling my mind.
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Just hang in there, Crystal. Baby steps, my dear and self-care and self-compassion. Take very very good care of yourself. We have to mourn what never was and understand that YOUR love was real. YOU did not do anything wrong and were just seeking love…so forgive yourself for your complicity. These emotional vampires find us, groom us, con us and manipulate our energy from us. But why did we love someone who inflicted such pain on us? We cannot heal at the same level of thinking that causes our emotional pain and that makes us vulnerable to emotional vampires. In healing, we answer that question and rescue our own selves and sacrifice for own healing and recovery and in the process we not only rebuild but come back stronger. I and so many others at my page are living testaments to our real power and strength..we take our power back and learn to become better versions of ourselves. You are worth so much better and I am here to help you take your power back and understand the level of love, compassion, and caring you truly deserve. You are safe and respected here….and very much appreciated. Blessings! Evelyn
Healing from people like this, who actually take pleasure in inflicting pain on others, requires knowing it’s not your fault. That person was like this before and after you knew them. They do this to anyone and everyone, and if you feel targeted know its a statement of how sick they are. Think about it, does a well-adjusted person who is emotionally healthy and mentally well, go around looking for people to mess with for no reason? Fundamentally, these people are sick. Even if you were vulnerable, remember that a mentally well person would not use and exploit your weakness for their jollies. They would show you empathy and compassion. It’s not your fault. All you need to do is heal. I am a big believer in EMDR for trauma therapy if it works for you.
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Thanks for your thoughtful feedback!!
Just hang in there. Baby steps, my dear and self-care and self-compassion. Take very very good care of yourself. I very well understand your sadness after being born into a herd of narcs and being married for 20 years. We have to mourn what never was and understand that YOUR love was real. YOU did not do anything wrong and were just seeking love…perfectly noble however in healing we learn our true self worth and what we are really worthy of. She found you. YOU did not find her. These emotional vampires find us, groom us, con us and manipulate our energy from us. Did you love her? Yes. Did I love him? Yes. But why did we love someone who inflicted such pain on us. We cannot heal at the same level of thinking that causes our emotional pain. In healing, we answer that question and rescue our own selves and sacrifice for own healing and recovery and in the process we not only rebuild but come back stronger. I and so many others at my page are living testaments to our real power and strength..we take our power back and learn to become better versions of ourselves. You are worth so much better and I am here to help you take your power back and understand the level of love, compassion, and caring you truly deserve. You are safe and respected here….and very much appreciated. Blessings! Evelyn
I am just so damn sad. It doesn’t go away. It doesn’t leave my head or heart.
I was so happy. Happiest I EVER have been in a relationship in my life, I 100% believed I had a true partner for life. I woke up happy to be next to her, even single morning. I don’t have that. I never really did either I guess. I wasted so much time after the shocking D&D (and the year of torture/pull-in-push out in denial/ignorance/hope plus the 8 months of “trying” anyway.) and now on just a few days of true No Contact. If I’d walked when my mom said to (right when she walked out) that would saved me almost 50% of the time wasted. I’ve worn out my friends who either are burnt out, still under her charm, my family you just want me to move on..now. I feel alone.