3 Steps To Mourn The Death Of A Loved One Who Hurt You

Release the hold they still have on your life.

woman grieving Antonio Diaz / Shutterstock

Anytime most anything comes to end, you will grieve. You must process how you feel about it and come to terms with the finality.

You will experience a sense of loss, and then, you must decide how to move on.

What you actually do with your emotions and actions now is tricky when you think about grieving someone who hurt you, especially if they were a loved one.

Grieving someone who hurt you is complicated.

Whether it was a parent, sibling, spouse, lover, child, or friend, the relationship was one that held expectations of kindness, nurture, and support. But, your experience may have included cruelty, neglect, and opposition.


Someone who was supposed to be close to you had hurt you. Whether it was a lifetime of hurt or a single experience, the pain runs as deep as the love you once felt for them.

RELATED: Why Experiencing Grief After Surviving An Abusive Relationship Is Totally Normal

You may, at first, feel relief when you think about not having to deal with the person anymore. You may feel guilty for thinking that. You may feel disappointed that they never owned up to hurting you or apologized for doing so.

You may feel sad because you still love them and never had the relationship that should have been. You may feel hopeless because you had held onto the hope that one day, they would change.


You may feel the excitement that the control they had over you is over. You may even feel angry that you feel anything at all. It's a complicated grief. 

The healthy way to mourn a loss that's riddled with negative feelings is to shift those feelings to self-love. 

What would be different in your life now if you allowed yourself to be the person they could never be? If you were to speak what wasn’t spoken, comfort what wasn’t comforted, acknowledge what wasn’t acknowledged?

You didn’t deserve the pain they put you through. It wasn’t your fault but it's your responsibility now to heal yourself so that you can live your best life and break the cycle of pain.

If you're grieving someone who hurt you, here are 3 steps to release the hold they have over your life. 

1. Allow yourself time.

This is a process, a journey, with no established end time. Give yourself the grace of time to do the work of mourning


Time is one of our most valuable commodities — invest some in yourself.

To begin this process, it's helpful to learn some mindfulness techniques like conscious breathing or sensory meditation to help anchor you and put space between your thoughts and actions.

2. Face reality.

You cannot change that which you will not acknowledge. Do not minimize what you experienced. When you’re hurt, it’s normal to want to minimize your pain so that you seem unaffected.

However, the stories you bury inside you hold you hostage and create more pain.

Tell your story to someone who can hear it with compassion, write it in a letter to the deceased and burn it after as a cleansing release, or journal it so that you can document your journey of healing as you progress.


3. Choose forgiveness.

For most, this is the hardest part. However, it's also necessary. Know that it's not about condoning or excusing the deceased’s behavior — it's about unlocking the shackles their behavior has on your life.

It requires you to truly hold them responsible while releasing yourself from carrying the burden of their choices and actions.

Give yourself the gift of scripting an ending to your story in a way that truly frees you. Once you do, you may choose to see them through a lens of compassion and recognize that they were suffering somehow too.

It's always someone hurting inside who hurts others. You won’t feel forgiveness right away, but choose it and let the feeling catch up to you.


Even in death, you cannot simply detach from your connection to this person. So, you must do the work of grieving, mourning, and healing.

Healing a difficult relationship when one has passed away is multi-layered and triggers difficult emotions. 

RELATED: How To Cope With Grief When You've Suffered From A Devastating Loss

The guilters tend to feel sad and that they should have done something differently.

Their mourning may look like crying, but it isn’t over the death — it’s over their own self-judgment for lack of taking action while this person was living.

There may be temporary relief, but the self-punishing thoughts will re-emerge and replay causing undue stress, locking them out of their best life, keeping them playing small, and sitting in a corner.


The shamers tend to feel burdened with responsibility for their pain and that they must be the "bad" person.

Especially when other people outside their relationship seemed to like, love, and respect the deceased. Their mourning may look like withdrawal and self-sabotaging, numbing behaviors — overeating, overdrinking, overspending, etc. 

There may be fleeting feelings of freedom, but self-hatred is habitual and keeps the victimization alive.

The blamers tend to feel resentment and find a sense of satisfaction in the person’s death.

Their mourning may look like an act of defiance now that there is no fear of the person who hurt them — spitting on their grave, trashing their ashes, throwing darts at their photo, etc.

There may be gratifying thoughts of justice having been served, but the rebellion keeps them engaged in conflict and their struggle to heal.


The reality is that none of these solve anything — they keep you bound in a self-punishing relationship with the deceased. And the side effects are far-reaching. They leak into your other relationships and sabotage your goals.

You must face and acknowledge your reality, experience, and process the emotions, practice self-love in thought and action, and allow time to be your friend.

When you don’t know how to feel when grieving someone who hurt you, be prepared to go everywhere emotionally, but refuse to be left broken or bitter.

The destination is peace if you stay the course. So, choose yourself when they did not.

The thing about death is that it seemingly ends possibilities. But, what looks like an ending is actually a new beginning.


RELATED: What Grief Really Means And How To Know What's Normal Or Healthy When You're Grieving

Ann Papayoti, PCC, is an author, speaker, and coach helping people untangle from their past, heal their hearts, and unlock their best life. She is the co-author of the intimate self-help guide, The Gift of Shift. For more information on how she can help you, visit her website.