Loss: Death of a Less-Than-Loved One

My mother was a mentally unstable person who inflicted a lot of abuse on her children.  I could find some way to sugar coat that, but I won’t.  It’s the truth.

But, wait, isn’t there a rule that we don’t speak ill of the dead?

That idea has caused so much pain to those who are trying to come to terms with the death of a less-than-loved one.  We need to throw that idea out and allow people to own their feelings.  Just because someone has died is no reason to elevate them to sainthood.  They were here.  They are gone.  They did some good things in life.  They did some bad things in life.

I know when my mom died, and I told my manager at work about it, she immediately sent this gorgeous bouquet of flowers.  I felt like a hypocrite accepting them because I wasn’t grieving the passing of my mother.  I thought grieving was about being sad someone was gone, and missing them, and that wasn’t me.  But I was grieving.  I just didn’t recognize it at the time.

What I did feel at first was a feeling of safety.  I felt like I had my life back.  Even though I had not spoken to her for many, many years, I still carried the emotional weight of her on my shoulders.  I heard her voice in my head.

What amazed me, though, was that the tears came months before she actually died, while she was on the decline.  My brother had called to say that she had another stroke and they thought the end was coming.  I got off the phone and suddenly started crying, and the crying felt like it was never going to end.  I asked myself what was going on, and discovered that I was grieving the mother I never had, the mother she could never be to me.

Grief is the reaction to loss, and in this case it was the loss of my hopes, dreams and expectations that I could have a loving mother.  She never, ever said she loved me.  She wasn’t capable of that.  I was finally adult enough to recognize it, and the anger I felt toward her was gone, but inside I was still that vulnerable child longing for love.

Here is some more information about dealing with the death of a less-than-loved one from the Grief Recovery Institute.

As always, you are welcome to share your experiences, tell your stories, or just ask questions.

Thank you for being here today, and for caring.

Blessings and hugs,



12 Replies to “Loss: Death of a Less-Than-Loved One”

  1. I can understand the way you felt about your mother. Sometimes I feel misunderstandings get in the way which makes feel we didn’t get the kind of love our other siblings got.

    I can remember my mom always made me do the chores around the house, but never my older sister. It did not occur to me until later in life that my mom loved my sister more than me. She was seven years older than me yet she got away doing nothing to help mom.

    Thank you Chris for this post.


  2. Many many years ago I had to come to terms with the fact that I did not like my father. He was a spoiled child man, who garnered no respect from his family, and I just could not pretend he did. I finally concluded that while I had to give him his due as my father, an authority figure in my life, I did not have to be friends with him. When he passed after years of illness, it was a relief for all of us.


  3. My Mother had Schizophrenia and yes there were hurtful words and actions but as I got older I realized my mother had a disease. Fortunately before she passed away I was able to forgive and we were reconciled to each other. This happened after my Dad got sick and died. My mother was committed to the hospital and she got medication which returned the mother I had as a young girl. The Lord gave me three precious years with her before taking her to Heaven. For that I am grateful.

    On the other hand I had a cousin who was so evil, mean and wicked that when he died at age 56 in 2011 None of the family went to his funeral. Not even his children. Turns out he had molested another family member, treated his kids like dirt so in conversation with his son who is my 2nd cousin, His own son said that his father was just a sperm donor. Now that’s bad. But as the expression goes, Your deeds will find you out and What’s done in the Dark shall come to the Light.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad that you were able to reconcile with your mother. Knowing that someone has a mental illness doesn’t take away the pain we felt as children, does it? Being able to forgive is so important, not necessarily for the person we are forgiving, but for ourselves. It brings peace, doesn’t it?


      1. Most of the pain I felt as a child is long forgotten. Sure there were problems but it makes no sense continue that pain.
        The past cannot be changed. My mother did the best she could under the circumstances.
        I let all that go a long time ago.


  4. Very well said. Like what seems to be a growing demographic, many of us had less than ideal family situations. The biggest kicker, in my experience of losing my mother several years ago, was the pent up emotion. I was able to have that ‘last conversation’ while she was relatively healthy and that helped, but my sister did not have that and her grieving experience is a whole lot different. It’s a complicated topic and It’s refreshing to see it being discussed.



    1. Thanks, Ed. You’re right, we DO need to talk about it. You’re lucky you had the chance to have that conversation with your mother. Those pent up emotions are so powerful. When we do grief work with people, we have a whole process of taking them through that final conversation, even if the person they are talking to is gone, just so they can release that emotion.

      Liked by 1 person

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