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  • Writer's pictureDr. Dara

Can you grieve the loss of an abuser?

It completely makes sense to mourn the death of someone who emotionally abused you. In fact, it may be even more complicated and confusing. One may think they are not supposed to feel sad or even feel a sense of relief of an abuser being gone. Grief occurs when mind causes a thought or feeling in order to promote a connection in a way that is no longer possible. People think something needs to be done to stop the feelings of despair or the feelings of anger. People get stuck in grief because they think those they cared for should not have died or they should not be feeling sadness about them dying. There are feelings of guilt to feel sad. Some experience anger thinking they should have done something different to prevent the abuse. Often people are left feeling incomplete and like they should have handled it differently. The pain of loss and the anger dissipates when mind realizes that there is no action that needs to be taken.

There is often the idea that grief is a sign of love and respect. People think if they do grieve, it means they must have truly loved or it means they were alright with the abuse. The amount of pain has nothing to do with the amount of hurt they may have experienced or the amount of love for the deceased person. There are people who had an incredible love who didn’t grieve at all, and there have been people who felt hatred and contempt who grieve forever.

Sometimes people believe that grief is the only connection left to the loved person or abuser. Someone’s fears of abuse having an ongoing connection, yet they are afraid to lose the grief. They fear to lose the memories of pain, worried the abuser would have won if they did not remain angry. Grief is not the connection, just as grief is not the disconnection. Although, continuing to be angry with the abuser only keeps the connection.

Forgiveness is not required nor necessary for grief. You don’t have to be okay with being mistreated. Thinking you do is what gets stuck causing long term grief, anger, or distress. The response of death is different for everyone and everyone has a different experience.

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