The Simple Tool That Helps People Move On From Parental Neglect & Abuse

It may seem dramatic, but the process can set you free and help heal the relationship.

woman with book on lap, looking up Mikhail Nilov, George Milton via Pexels

Writing a eulogy is often a daunting task, filled with the weight of grief. By nature, a eulogy is for a person who has died. But it doesn't have to be.

If you experienced abandonment or neglect as a child, writing a eulogy while your parent is alive can be a powerful tool to help you heal.

In this exercise, you write a eulogy — a goodbye letter — to the parent you wished you'd had. The parent that never existed.


Crafting a eulogy for the parent you longed for can be a powerful and therapeutic exercise, enabling you to accept the one you did have and ultimately find the closure needed to move forward.

On the podcast Open Relationships: Transforming Together, therapist Eli Harwood, author of the book Securely Attached (and best known as The Attachment Nerd on Instagram) said:


"I longed for a father who could give me some wisdom in my life and that wasn't who my dad was."

Harwood told host Andrea Miller that she wrote a eulogy for the parent she wished she had, and this helped her dramatically in her healing process.

RELATED: 11 Signs You Were Raised By A Bad Mother Or Father (And It's Affecting You Now)

How to write a living eulogy for your imperfect parent

1. Acknowledge your feelings

The first step in this healing journey is acknowledging your feelings. It's natural to grieve the absence of the parent you wished for, and it's okay to feel a sense of loss for the unfulfilled expectations.

Take the time to reflect on your emotions and allow yourself to experience the grief.


2. Identify positive traits

Despite the differences between the idealized parent and the reality you faced, every person has positive traits. Reflect on the qualities you wished your parent had possessed, such as empathy, support, or understanding.

Identify these traits and recognize that they are essential aspects of a healthy parent-child relationship.

3. Write about the parent you wished you'd had

Begin writing the eulogy as if you are speaking about the parent you wished for. Describe the qualities, characteristics, and actions you longed to experience.

Be honest about your feelings and express the emotions. Tell the truth about the void left by the absence of these attributes.




4. Transition to reality

As you progress through the eulogy, gently transition from the idealized version of your parent to the real person who was a part of your life.

Acknowledge the strengths and positive aspects they did possess, even if they differed from your initial expectations. This shift allows you to embrace the complexity of the relationship and find acceptance.

RELATED: 9 Questions To Ask Yourself When You Feel Like The Worst Mom Or Dad Ever


5. Express gratitude

Express gratitude for the positive aspects your parent brought into your life. Acknowledge the lessons learned, the strength gained, and the resilience developed through the challenges faced together.

Gratitude can be a powerful tool in reframing your perspective and fostering a sense of closure.

6. Celebrate shared moments

While focusing on unmet expectations, it's crucial to recognize and celebrate the positive moments shared with your parent. Recall instances of joy, love, and connection, no matter how fleeting they might have been.

These moments, though different from the idealized scenarios, are an integral part of your shared history and contribute to the complexity of your relationship.


7. Find meaning in challenges

As you navigate through the eulogy, reflect on the challenges faced with your parent.

Consider how these difficulties shaped you, instilled resilience, or prompted personal growth. By finding meaning in the struggles, you can reframe the narrative of your relationship and perceive challenges as opportunities for learning and self-discovery.

8. Embrace forgiveness

Writing a eulogy for the parent you wished for provides an opportunity for forgiveness. Recognize that everyone has their flaws and imperfections.


Forgiving your parent, even posthumously, can free you from the burden of resentment and contribute to your healing process.

In the process of writing a eulogy for the parent you wished you had, you embark on a journey of self-discovery, acceptance, and healing. Doing this may seem a tad silly but you create a space for forgiveness and closure.

It's a therapeutic exercise that allows you to move forward with a more profound understanding of your parent, yourself, and the intricacies of the parent-child relationship.

RELATED: You Are Not A Bad Parent Because Your Child Is In Therapy

Deauna Roane is a writer and the Editorial Project Manager for YourTango. She's had bylines in Emerson College's literary magazine, Generic, and MSN.