When a loved one passes away, the relationship you had with that person affects your grief.
Relationships are not perfect, and even good relationships have their ups and downs. Grief can be made even more difficult if you had a strained relationship with your loved one. For example, the last few years of a marriage may have been more challenging due to the added responsibilities of caregiving. Parents and children may have had a conflicted relationship. Even though you loved someone, it certainly doesn’t mean that you were always happy with them.
A strained relationship can lead to more challenges in processing your grief. You may feel like you have unfinished business, things you wish you had said (or not said), or things you wish you had done differently. Grief can also bring up old memories that in turn can be difficult to manage.
Another issue is that friends and family may not know how to support you if they were aware of your strained relationship. They may not even understand why you are grieving the loss.
Or it’s possible that other people might not be aware of your strained relationship and in that case may not understand your conflicted emotions and difficulty grieving.
If you find yourself struggling with conflicting emotions, there are some strategies you can employ. You can write a letter to your loved one, expressing your thoughts and feelings that you didn’t get to say when they were alive. You can also try creating a memory box with mementos associated with positive memories. Or spend time with other loved ones telling stories about happier times.
If your memories are particularly painful and difficult to bear, consider grief support or counseling. It can be helpful to process your feelings with someone on the outside. No matter what, know that you do not need to go on your journey alone. Help is always available.