Grieving the one who hurt you
by Leanne Billiau
When the person who died was abusive toward you, be it physically, verbally, emotionally, or sexually, it is common to feel a great sense of relief that the abuse has come to an end, once and for all. That feeling of relief, however, is often followed by feelings of guilt. You may feel guilty that you could not, somehow, repair the relationship.
Often those that are abusive also hold a charm that others fondly remember. You may hear stories of how “sweet”, “kind”, “funny”, or “helpful” your loved one was to others. While you may be glad they saw the good in your loved one, your experience may have been very different. This can intensify feelings of guilt, and even shame, as you grieve the type of relationship you wish you were able to have had with your loved one. You may also need to grieve the loss of the dream that someday, somehow, the relationship would be repaired.
Although the death can bring painful feelings to the surface and make memories replay like broken records, it can also be a time of great personal growth. If you are willing to take a close look at your relationship with the person who died and process your feelings as they arise, it can yield great benefit. You may also want to take inventory of your loved one’s qualities and identify which qualities you want to carry with you into the future and which qualities you would like to leave in the past. If you do this important work of grief, it can be a transformative experience.
“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.”
As you are able, perhaps with the assistance of a bereavement professional, do your grief work by chipping away at the feelings that rise to the surface, welcoming their presence, turning them over in your hand, sorting and categorizing them each as precious pebbles falling from the mother stone, to be held and cherished, then set down respectfully as your new form emerges, beautifully seasoned and brightly illuminated.