When you have a narcissistic mother, almost nothing in your life feels normal. Narcissistic mothers emotionally and sometimes physically abuse their children throughout their lives. They don’t feel nurturing, and in fact, they see their children as simple extensions of their own identity. They are pretty much the opposite of society’s stereotypically loving, kind mother. So how will it feel when she dies?
Grieving a narcissistic mother is complicated. There are many emotions that the children of such a toxic parent go through as they grieve, and none of them are wrong. The key to grieving your toxic mother is to accept your feelings, let go of the abuse, and explore ways to heal your wounded soul.
I know firsthand how difficult it can be to have a narcissistic mother. You might be surprised to learn that you could really miss her when she’s gone. There are many things you can do, however, to grieve her loss. Let’s take a look at some effective ways to work through what will undoubtedly be a difficult time in your life.
1. Don’t Fight the Grief
You might want to tell yourself that you don’t really care about your narcissistic mother. But when she dies, it’s a very odd feeling even if you were estranged from her. The very first thing you need to realize is that you will feel grief, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s perfectly normal.
One of the best ways to work through any difficult emotions is to simply let them flow. Don’t fight those feelings of grief because you think you shouldn’t care, given the years of emotional abuse. Those blocked emotions will only come back to haunt you. Instead, allow yourself to sit with the feelings and let them pass.
Your mother represents your first relationship, and it’s a close bond even if she wasn’t a good mother. She definitely played a role in shaping your life, and a failure to acknowledge the loss of someone that impactful in your life will hurt you more than it helps.
Whether or not you ever confronted your narcissistic mother about her abusive treatment, you should let yourself feel the emotions that will come with her passing. Remember that those emotions really say more about who you are as an empathetic person rather than how she was as a mother.
Sit with your grief, and notice how those emotions affect your body. When you do that, you will give yourself the opportunity to process the trauma that might otherwise remain trapped in your body. When trauma stays trapped, it causes you to have difficulty moving past it.
Think about any good that your mother did for you, but also let yourself feel the pain of her abuse. That’s the best way to let those emotions pass, and it’s also the best way to begin a journey of healing.
2. Accept the Reality
Aside from allowing yourself to feel grief, you will need to accept the reality of what your mother was like. Don’t try to make her seem better or worse than she was. Accept her for exactly the kind of mother she was, and that will give you the freedom to accept yourself.
I can’t stress enough how vital acceptance is when dealing with difficult situations and emotions. It really is the first step to moving on from the pain. Accept your mother for everything she was, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
It’s a helpful practice to journal about what you have endured. This will give you a place to document what you went through and the impact it had on your life. You can also document your emotions.
This technique helps you to look back and actually see exactly what kind of trauma you’ve endured and how it has affected your life. It is only through acceptance that you can now take the best actions for you to be able to heal.
You have to know everything you need to heal from in order to successfully implement the strategies that will help you overcome what you endured as a child. A narcissistic mother is definitely not an easy reality to accept.
You may think that you deserved better, and you’re right, you did. But that’s not what you got. Once you can accept that difficult fact, you can let go of the anger and pain of that reality.
3. Acknowledge Your Emotions
When your narcissistic mother dies, you might feel anger, fear, sadness, happiness, relief, and other emotions too. You might be most surprised at the sadness, but it’s very common for the children of narcissistic mothers, as you can see in this video.
Sometimes, you feel sad because you wanted so much more, sometimes, it’s because you didn’t get to say what you wanted to say, and sometimes, it’s simply the change. Sometimes, as author and abuse recovery coach Lee Miller notes, “You are not angry because they did not turn up. You are angry because you allowed yourself to expect that they would.”
A friend of mine lost his narcissistic father. He had been estranged from him for most of his childhood, and so it wasn’t even like he had lost someone who was in his life constantly. Still, it felt odd for him because this was someone who was part of his creation.
He had been able to express his feelings about how his father had treated him before he died, but there was still a sense of loss. Perhaps, it’s the thought of what could have been. I think that makes the grief process very difficult for many children of narcissistic parents.
You think about how things could have been if your narcissistic mother had been healthy. That’s understandable, and that’s also part of why you should let yourself grieve and acknowledge every emotion you have along the way.
It’s a way to articulate your pain and also document what you have lost. As you think about how things might have been, you can see the many ways that your mother’s abuse affected your life. You’re really grieving so much more than simply her loss, so let those feelings flow. You truly will feel better in the end.
4. Write Your Narcissistic Mother a Letter
For those who didn’t get a chance to confront their toxic mother with the effects her abuse had on their lives, it’s not too late just because she’s gone. Stating your truth and acknowledging just what she did to you is a very healthy way to process those feelings.
You don’t need to say it to her face for it to be effective. By simply stating what your narcissistic mother did to you and how you feel about it, you can free up that emotional trauma and help it to exit your body and your psyche.
It’s a way of letting go of what she did to you. You are not the abuse you endured; you are so much more than that. By writing it down and reading it out loud, you are sharing that with the universe, and even if she is no longer there to hear it, it has the same effect on you.
That’s what’s important. You need to heal yourself. When you express the pain she caused you, it frees you from her toxic grasp. That’s something even death couldn’t accomplish. But a simple letter can do that for you.
Don’t hold back when you write the letter either. Let her know exactly what she did or said, how it affected you, and what she should have said instead. It’s a great way to honor yourself and move on from that pain. Remember, this is not about her; this is about you moving forward. Check out this video for other ways to say goodbye to your narcissistic mother.
5. Seek Therapy
Many people don’t seek therapy because they are afraid of the social stigma often attached to it. That’s definitely not as big a concern these days, but it still causes some people to pause before moving ahead.
Trust me, getting help from a professional therapist is one of the best things you can do for yourself, particularly if you have or had a narcissistic mother. A therapist gives you an objective individual who can help you recognize and process your emotions.
If you’ve had a narcissistic mother, you definitely have emotional trauma, and you need to process it to be able to move on. You might be reluctant to relive everything and to talk to someone you don’t know, but I can assure you it will be the best thing you can do for yourself.
A professional therapist will give you an objective point of view, and they can help provide you with exercises to better explore your feelings and the impact your mother had on your behavior. They can really help you escape the cage your mother put you in.
Many children of narcissistic mothers are left with scars and mental issues of their own. It’s common for them to either become codependent as a coping strategy or to become narcissistic themselves. A professional therapist can help you see those effects and overcome them.
What’s more, getting involved with group therapy can help you realize you are not alone. There are a lot of children out there who are coping with the effects of a narcissistic parent. They understand exactly what you’re going through, and it can help to talk with them.
6. Build a Strong Social Support Network
As you go through this difficult time in your life, you will need people who love you and have your best interest at heart around you. They will help you process those emotions, and they will be a positive influence in your life.
Your narcissistic mother was ill, and she was not able to give you the love that you need and deserve, but she is not the only person who can give you that kind of love. There are two kinds of family: the family you’re born into and the family you choose.
Your friends are the family you choose, and they are often a better social support network than the family you’re born with. Additionally, you may have several family members who do care for you and are capable of supporting you through the grieving process.
A strong social support network can also help you move on from the abuse and start really living your best life. They can give you the positive influence and support you need to make better choices as you move forward.
They can also be someone to turn to when those old demons rise up again as you face life’s challenges. I know all too well how your mother’s toxic words can come back to you at the most inconvenient moments.
By having a strong social support network, however, you can overcome those toxic memories and move on in a positive direction. They can give you solid, constructive advice and support you emotionally as you strive for something better, something you deserve.
7. No Distractions
When you’re dealing with any kind of past abuse, it’s easy to lose yourself in distractions. I have seen friends with narcissistic mothers distract themselves with alcohol and drugs as well as other types of addictions.
You might distract yourself by engaging obsessively in physical fitness. While that might make your body healthy, if you ignore your mental health, you will have problems. You can’t do a workout strong enough to erase the abuse that came from your mother.
You also can’t travel far enough away to escape the effects of her abuse. That’s another distraction technique I’ve seen people use. They are literally running around the world to escape their problems.
But it’s a distraction technique, and it won’t work. Your problems go right along with you to the gym, around the world, or into that bottle of alcohol. The only way to escape the pain is to face it, feel it, and process it.
It won’t be as bad as you think it will be either. We have in our minds that feeling that kind of pain again will be unbearable, but when you actually sit with it, you’ll see how impermanent it really is.
8. Comfort Your Inner Child
Another technique for grieving the loss of your narcissistic mother is by giving your inner child what she should have given that little you. Often when we’re grieving the loss of an abusive parent, it’s because we really wanted to somehow make that relationship work out.
The problem is that the abuse happened, and it’s over. You’ll never work that relationship out, but you can work out the relationship you have with that damaged little child inside yourself. You can give that little you everything your mother should have.
You can acknowledge to him or her that their pain is real and it’s unfair. Sit and envision that little you crying in pain from the terrible things your narcissistic mother said or did, and then take that child in your arms and let them know you will always be there for them. You will always be on their side, and you will never let anyone abuse them again as she did.
Let that little you know that you will be there for them always, and you will never treat them the way your mother did. This opens the door for self-forgiveness, self-compassion, and a strong sense of self-worth.
It resolves the relationship you can’t otherwise resolve. People seeking that resolution often play out their past relationships with romantic partners. They seek out the same type of person as their abusive parent to make it work out this time.
The problem is that what happened has already happened, and you can make it come out any differently no matter how hard you try. But you can give your inner child what your mother should have given you, and that is a genuine healing experience.
9. Look for the Gifts
You might not think your narcissistic mother ever gave you any gifts, but in fact, she did. What she did to you was horrible, but you survived. That means that she did give you some gifts, and when you think about it, you’ll likely see how she made you a stronger person.
My mother’s narcissistic abuse made me much more empathic than I otherwise would have been. It also made me mentally strong. All of her painful comments and constant criticism made me impervious to regular criticism.
It made me into someone who can stand strong against adversity, and that is really a gift. Try this little exercise when writing in your journal. Think of something she did that really hurt you, and complete this sentence, “It’s good because___________.”
For example, my mother constantly told me that I wasn’t pretty and would never find anyone to love me. I know now that’s not true, but I complete that sentence like this: “It’s good because I didn’t rely on my looks. That made me develop my brain and use other talents I have to get through life. Those are much more sustainable than my looks which will fade with age.”
When you can see the gifts, you’ll know the reason why your life happened the way it did. You’ll understand better how having a narcissistic mother made you a much stronger person than you otherwise might have been.
I believe that everything that happens in life happens for a reason. You go through the things you do because it’s the way we learn more about ourselves. Having a narcissistic mother was not a choice you made, but it did bring you insights you might never have otherwise had about your own abilities. It helped you realize that you can survive.
10. Fill Your Life with Love
They say the best revenge is a life well-lived, and that’s kind of what this last point is about. Your mother didn’t fill your life with love, and she should have. She should have been enamored with you. She should have made you her whole world, but she didn’t.
Her mental disorder made it so that she couldn’t give you the love you deserved. She made you a part of her identity instead of letting you grow into your own person. She tried to weaken you instead of building you up.
But now you can live your own life. You don’t have to live the life she wanted you to live, you can live the life you want to live. You can fill your life with the love she should have given you. Love is an incredibly healing emotion, and filling your life with love will make it immeasurably better.
It’s a way for you to reconcile the abuse she heaped on you as a helpless child. You can take that helpless little child inside of you and give them all the unconditional love your mother was supposed to give you.
Fill your life with loving friends, things you love to do, and your own loving family. Most of all, fill your life with self-love, and you’ll have that well-lived life your mother denied you.
A narcissistic mother is one of the most toxic people you can have in your life. You don’t know she’s abusive until you’ve already suffered terrible damage. It will take time to heal those wounds, and you will likely face many difficult emotions when your mother is gone. By using these tactics, you can grieve her loss as well as the loss of your childhood and move on to live a fulfilling life. One other thing that will help you during your healing process is to recognize and defuse your emotional triggers.
Your narcissistic mother created those emotional triggers when she wounded you in childhood. They are scars of her abuse, and other people can use them to manipulate and control you. But you can prevent that by using 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers to recognize those old wounds and defuse them. This is a free guide that I will send directly to your inbox if you click on this link. It’s one more step you can take to heal yourself and live your best life.
If you want more tips for dealing with narcissists, setting boundaries, and managing emotional triggers, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel