Grieving the Living

Have you ever divorced yourself from, or significantly altered, a friendship or family relationship in the name of self-preservation?

It’s not an easy thing, letting go of or limiting contact with those who’ve repeatedly hurt us. And the grief that stems from purposely “losing” someone has a different feel, doesn’t it?

There’s duplicity in grieving an intentional loss: relief (“Thank god I won’t have to experience their rage/anger/ignorance again”) vs sadness (“I miss the parts of our relationship that were good”). Guilt (“Maybe it was something I did”) vs affirmation (“I did the right thing”). Doubt (“Maybe they’ll change”) vs absolute (“Their track record indicates they won’t change”).

This duplicitous grief requires constant reminders that letting go was an act of self-kindness, and that in order to not get sucked back into a toxic relationship (which produces a whole other kind of grief), you have to remain vigilant to your needs.

Remind yourself that, at some point, you said, “I can’t do this anymore!” and meant it. You decided that you would no longer give yourself over to their demons. You would no longer allow their words to make you shake, throw up, pace, cut, overeat, over-run/walk/elliptical/lift/grunt/sweat, or cry.

Within your grief, remember why you hold that person who “loves” you at arm’s length, and remember that sometimes arm’s length is a thousand miles, a new phone number, and your finger poised above the delete key.

6 thoughts on “Grieving the Living

  1. I did this with a sibling and also a friend of over 30 years. Your words really resonate with me! Thank you!

    1. I hope you’ve found peace with your decision. Self-care in these types of situations is not easy, but so crucial.

      1. Never easy, but sometimes so necessary! And the second-guessing can be exhausting. Virtual hugs to those who have to make the difficult decision to prioritize their own health and sanity ❤

    1. As I wrote to Nancy (above), I hope you found peace with your decision. Time may lend perspective, but it doesn’t “heal,” not in an emotional way, anyway.

  2. Thanks. I focus on the past when my relationship with my sibling was positive. But recently I found another blocked message from him. I listened to about two seconds of a thirty second message and knew I needed to stop. He has done the same thing to another one of our siblings.

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