Life, Health, Career Coaching

How Do We Heal and Mourn After the Loss of a Narcissist?

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.