Grieving a parent with whom you had a difficult relationship

I have no wish to be insensitive to those who are grieving beloved and much-missed parents and am glad there is lots of support available. But my mother and I never got on well (she showed traits that I am told are those of a covert narcissist) and when she decided to move near us and basically handed responsibility for her life to us, I found the strain on myself and my marriage very hard to deal with. This lasted six years. Early last year my mum fell at home, and when in hospital caught a few infections, so the doctors wouldn’t let her leave even though she recovered from them. She was there for two and a half months, despite all our attempts to find a suitable care home for her, and she lost the will to live and starved and dehydrated herself to death. She died a week after going into a care home. I then arranged the funeral and sold her flat. My mental and physical health have not been good throughout last year, which was perhaps to be expected, but 13 months after her death I am still getting lots of infections and feeling generally low. I haven’t been able to talk to anyone about how you deal with losing someone for whom you had such mixed feelings, so when I was pointed to Sue Ryder I thought I might maybe find someone else who has had a similar experience.

Hello @HB63,

Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story with us. Everyone’s experiences of loss and grief are unique, and yours are just as valid as anyone else’s. You deserve care and support, too.

I’m sure someone will be along to share their thoughts. In the meantime, here are some threads by other members who are grieving a parent they had a difficult relationship with that you might like to read. You are not alone.

This is from @Rach81, who has also lost her mum:

@Jojoba talks about his relationship with his dad in this thread:

If you’re interested in counselling, we offer free sessions at Sue Ryder. You can also make an appointment with your GP and ask to be referred to counselling or other support services in your area. You might also want to look at our Grief Guide, which provides articles and interactive tools to help you cope with grief.

Take care,

Thank you very much for these.

Best wishes

I totally get this. My relationship with my mother was also very difficult. I see all the posts from people grieving their mothers and struggling to cope, and I really can’t identify with them at all. It was sad of course, when my mother died, but the sense of relief that I was no longer going to have to bear the constant criticism and her dramas was immense. I know she had her demons, and as an only child I was the one she took them out on. All her friends thought she was wonderful, but they never saw the real her. It was like a weight being lifted off my shoulders and I have never felt guilty for not feeling what all these other people seem to feel. I do feel the awful pain for others who I have lost, people I really loved - which is why I’m on here - but she really did make my life so difficult, I just don’t feel it for her. So, no, it isn’t just you! There are lots of us out here too.

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Thank you for sharing that; your experience is very similar to mine, except I have a brother, but he was what psychologists call the ‘golden child’ so his relationship with her was quite different from mine. It does make me feel less alone and odd, but what I’m not sure about is whether the physical symptoms I have been having since last May are the outworking of seven years of stress trying to care for my mother and then deal with her passing.