Your abuser is gone. Really gone. You won’t bump into him or her. You needn’t fear a call.
Yet, your abuser’s death doesn’t bring the peace you thought it would.
While you may experience some measure of relief following your abuser’s death, finding peace in an ongoing way may be more an intentional process than you realized.
Your abuser’s death only offers an opportunity to find peace, not peace itself.
Still, the reward is worth the work.
Let’s consider a few crucial steps for leaving your abuser behind and finding peace ahead:
The truth is, you cannot change the past. Your abuser’s death confirms it. His or her presence on the planet, or lack thereof, doesn’t erase your past pain and suffering. He or she committed those terrible acts against you. That is the truth. No more hiding, pretending, or burying that fact. Shame and pain may have been part of your life for far too long.
Your abuser’s actions took an unfair toll on you and you have every right to acknowledge that. You have every right to speak to that. You have every right to feel whatever it is you feel so that you can move forward. You also have a right to seek help and recover.
Honest acceptance is a key component of finding peace on your own terms.
Your abuser’s death may be an ideal time to practice being present. So much of your connection to that person is tied to emotional and/or physical pain, disturbing memories, and fear. Take comfort in the fact that your abuser no longer has the ability to actively stir up memories or insert him or herself into your future.
Pay attention to the moment, to today, freely. Embrace your moments, your environment, your body, and your feelings as your own, not to be manipulated by anyone or pressured to make them conform with any disingenuous response to your experience.
Mindful presence is essential to finding peace and living authentically.
The death of an abuser may not be easy to articulate or navigate. You may feel a confusing mix of anger, loss, guilt, even pity, depending on your relationship to your abuser. Support groups and loved ones may not appreciate your hurt or, worse, convince you that your feelings are somehow improper or unwelcome.
You may feel unexpectedly alienated by your abuser’s death.
It’s okay to release the “keep the peace” way of thinking that may have complicated your relationship with your abuser. Allow yourself some inner peace instead. Value yourself enough to seek your peace with a therapist or support group that specializes in complicated or unfinished grief. You need and deserve to have the closure and care your abuser’s death makes possible. Sharing your experience with non-judgmental people who understand is crucial to developing healthier relationships.
Caring support is an indispensable part of finding peace and a sense of belonging.
Embrace self-compassion and encouraging self-talk. Challenge the painful script your abuser wrote for you. Release that past with the help and guidance of a trained counselor, therapist, or clergy person. Embrace the fact that you are more than the abuse or your relationship to your abuser. You are a complex and multi-faceted, valuable human being. And your recovery is an equally faceted process.
Your abuser’s death gives you the chance to focus inward intently. Self-compassion is an important part of the peace you’ll find through therapy, self-expression, and forgiveness.
Genuinely learning to love yourself and accept your own compassion allows you to continue finding peace long after your abuser is gone.
If, however, you continue to suffer and peace is illusive, contact me. Working together, we’ll overcome the obstacles you’re struggling with.