Grief or Relief? Processing the Loss of a Negative Relationship

January 13, 2023

Even if the relationship was toxic or abusive, you can still grieve it. Relief, regret, and grief are an all-in-one package. Make space for your full healing experience with these 3 truths about grief recovery. 

What does grief look like when the person you lost is someone you had a negative or toxic relationship with? If you’re facing this right now, you’ve probably realized that grief is way more complex than you expected. Grief recovery isn’t just about missing a relationship you had. It can be about missing a relationship you never had and now never will.

At this point, the should-have-said and should-have-done have probably kept you awake at night. Maybe you’re shocked that you’re feeling so much pain over the loss of someone you had secretly (or not so secretly) been wanting out of your life anyway.

Processing the Loss of a Negative Relationship

It’s okay to have these feelings–every single one of them. Relationships aren’t simple, and neither is grieving them. This blog will highlight three freedoms you can offer yourself as you navigate healing the loss of a messy relationship.

You can grieve someone you didn’t like.

Yes, even your ex-husband. Even if the divorce ended in a trauma-filled, all-out war. You thought you’d been drained dry of your love for this person, but it all seems to come flooding back once they’re no longer around.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you want that person back in your life now. It means your heart was big enough to hold space for the love that could have been. There were things in this relationship that you wanted to be better or to be different. It’s okay to grieve the death of those possibilities.

You can be glad the struggle is over.

It’s only natural that you would be relieved that turmoil and conflict are over. Grief and relief are not mutually exclusive. If someone passed who was in terrible emotional or physical pain, you can feel glad that they aren’t in that pain anymore.

Maybe you’ve lost a loved one to addiction. You were constantly fighting with them, worrying about their wellbeing, or living in fear that they would continue to steal from you or put your family in danger—it’s okay to feel relieved that these parts of the relationship are over. It doesn’t make you a bad person, and it doesn’t mean you don’t love them. All of this—the sadness, pain, anger, relief, and regret—can be true at the same time.

You can tell the truth about the relationship.

Even if the truth wasn’t always pretty, it’s important you have space to be honest about your experience in the relationship that you’re grieving. You don’t have to paint life with this person as all sunshine and rainbows if it wasn’t. A relationship doesn’t have to have been perfect in order for it to be “grieve-able.”

The truth is, life is imperfect. People are imperfect. We’re all doing the best we can in each and every moment. We can wish things had gone differently, but the fact is, they didn’t.

It’s your wishing that shows your capacity for hope. It’s your longing that shows your desire for unity. That makes you a living, loving, doing-your-best being. And that makes you a person your loved ones are lucky to have known in this lifetime, no matter how imperfect the relationship may have been.

Letting Go of a Negative or Toxic Relationship

If you grappling with confusing emotions around grieving a relationship that was negative or toxic, you are not alone. We see you, we know you’re hurting, and want to offer you a safe place to share your story and feel supported in your healing journey. Contact us today to set up a free discovery call and spend some time with us – we’re here for you. 

Sharon Brubaker is a certified Life Coach and credentialed Grief Specialist who, along with her team, teaches women who are grieving how to process their thoughts and emotions. To learn more about navigating grief within the family, listen to the full podcast episode here or download my free e-Book, The Griever’s Guide, which equips you with the tools to live life after grief; because no griever should have to navigate a broken heart on their own.

 

The reality is, no matter what words of encouragement someone may offer, if you have nobody to list as your emergency contact, there is nothing to truly minimize that pain. Losing a loved one is unimaginably heartbreaking and unendingly hopeless. We see you, we know you’re hurting, and want to offer you a safe place to share your story and feel supported in your healing journey. Contact us today to set up a free discovery call and spend some time with us – we’re here for you. 

Sharon Brubaker is a certified Life Coach and credentialed Grief Specialist who, along with her team, teaches women who are grieving how to process their thoughts and emotions. To learn more about navigating grief within the family, listen to the full podcast episode here or download my free e-Book, The Griever’s Guide, which equips you with the tools to live life after grief; because no griever should have to navigate a broken heart on their own.

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