Grief is painful. Grief is a journey. Grief is complicated. Grief….. Ebb’s and Flows.
The holidays can be difficult for most. However, for those experiencing the loss of a parent — due to a toxic relationship, the holidays can be complicated with feelings of grief and loss. It may bring up feelings of trauma, anxiety or depression.
It may feel as though you are standing in a crowd full of people all experiencing the same event, during the same time, on the same day yet, still feeling like your experience is different. You may experience intense feelings of loneliness and disconnect from those around you.
For those who are coping with a loss — estrangement — of a family member, particularly a toxic parent, during the holidays can bring up similar feelings of grief such as:
What makes grieving a family member who is available to us — complicated grief … is the knowing the parent or family member is available and despite how painful it is — either or both of you haven chosen to cut ties, disconnect or limit contact.
This time of the year can be especially challenging for those grieving a toxic parent. Naturally, the holidays bring up both positive memories and also reminders of the very fact we don’t have that ‘hallmark’ — ‘picture perfect’ family to celebrate with.
With that being said, we may be presented with several internal thoughts or questions from other’s this holiday such as:
‘They are your parent, despite your differences, you should reach out to them, it’s the holidays’
‘I should reach out, what if they have changed, what if it can be better’
‘I do miss them, why do I miss them if they hurt me so badly’
‘Why am I not even over this whole thing still, why do I still care so much’
All feelings are valid. Grieving a family member or friend is never easy. Grief is not a destination it’s a feeling that comes and goes just like happiness, anger, boredom and hunger even.
Grieving a parent that is available, accessible and alive, is confusing and we may even deny our feelings of grief out of shame and guilt.
Yes, we are grieving. It’s ok to grieve the loss of a parent. Even when they are available to reach out to. Even when it hurts to do so.
“I wonder if others feel the tremendous amount of loss and sadness I feel at not having the ‘healthy’ parent experience.” — One writer from the Invisible Scar wrote.
Grief is not forever, but it will come back.
It may be confusing to love someone and miss them even when it hurt’s to be connected. Know that your experience is valid. Your feelings are real. It’s ok to grieve a parent who is unavailable, detached, estranged. It’s ok to stay protected, to continue the no-contact. It’s also ok to miss them and want to be connected. It’s ok to choose not to.
If you are someone you know are experiencing complicated grief and loss from a toxic parent this holiday season, know that you are not allow. Our therapist, at The Center of Life Mental Health Counseling, are here to help. We understand that no two people experience grieve and loss the same and healing from childhood wounds is painful. Call us today 407-476-1432, we look forward to supporting you throughout your experience.