Grieving the death of someone you had a fucked up relationship with

Death just adds another layer of complication, or does it?

Photo by Gwen Weustink on Unsplash

When my mother suddenly died recently, all the anger, frustration and resentment I had towards her felt like it suddenly disappeared. Literally like a poof! of smoke, it seemed to disappear into the air.

But it hasn’t really gone away; that was just my experience of shock taking over for a short while.

But seriously, what happens when someone you had a significant but fucked up relationship with dies? What about all that unresolved stuff? Where does it go?

In a recent counselling session my therapist and I agreed that there are some relationships in life that will never be resolved. No matter how long either of you live there is a limitation to what healing can be done between the two of you.

I believe that to be true. I saw it when I was working as a therapist and I felt it between my mum and me. No one is under any obligation to fix anything and we can’t force people to do so. Sure, it’d be great to live in a lovely fluffy world where conflict and abuse is always healed and resolved between people but this is not the case.

It used to shit me when people would say ‘But family is family’, or ‘Blood is thicker than water’. Clearly people who came up with these cliches never grew up in dysfunctional or fucked up family. I doubt they experienced trauma or abuse or neglect or abandonment or mental illness or drug abuse in the family.

Bless them those lucky buggers, but please don’t tell me — or anyone — that we should always stick by our family just because they’re family. That’s just setting someone up for more trauma and grossly invalidates their experience and feelings.

In adulthood we often carrry-through the complex and unhappy relationships that plagued us as children.

We continue the fight.

It’s like an endless tug-of-war fraught with old anger, sadness, loss, unanswered questions and confusion. Boundaries get blurred, relationships mutate and become even more disturbed. But then….they die.

Suddenly you’re left standing there holding the rope you fought so hard to hold onto in your tug-of-war. You’re alone, the rope is on the ground and they’re gone.

All that energy you put into arguing with them is gone.

Something big is gone.

Where does all that energy go? You can’t fight with someone who can’t defend themselves anymore.

I’m still trying to figure this out, And I know that my relationship with my mum has changed now that she’s gone. But there is still a relationship nevertheless.

The tug-of-war we had that seemed so important to me (to defend and protect myself) seems stupid now. I feel like my mind is playing tricks on me.

Stupid death. Stupid life.

Beautiul death. Beautiful life.

And so a new journey begins….

Australian writer, sexologist, & therapist. I sometimes write about sex & pleasure. I sometimes write about weird shit, my interests & being human.

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