What’s Grief Like When Someone You Don’t Like Dies?

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Many people have felt relief over the death of someone they don’t like. If the deceased was a terrible person toward you in life, their death will not change who they were and what they did. And it doesn’t erase your experiences with them. Of course, their death will mean something different to everyone who knew them.

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When the deceased is a close family member, it’s quite likely that others in the family will have not only a different experience but a completely different recollection of that person in their mind and heart. If a deceased person caused you pain and sorrow while they were still alive, it can be difficult to mourn their death in the same way as others. It is important to remember not to guilt yourself into feeling remorse when there’s none there.

What Usually Happens When You’re Grieving Someone You Don’t Like?

There are many different types of reactions to loss. The different types of grief and related emotions you’ll feel when someone you hate dies may confuse you. Experiencing grief and guilt simultaneously isn’t all that unusual in these circumstances, especially when this person has hurt you during their lifetime. 

ยป MORE: How do you handle your loved one's final affairs? Get your free post-loss checklist.

 

Tips for Dealing With Grieving Someone You Didn’t Like

Grieving the death of someone you don’t like can be very much real, despite your negative feelings toward them. For the people that have made maintaining a relationship difficult, the level and type of grief you may feel at their passing is different from that of someone you care about deeply. 

The way you cope with grieving their loss will depend on the deceased’s relationship with you and other members of your household. You can support your family through their healing process without making it about the person who died and compromising your feelings toward them.

Grief is complicated when dealing with the death of someone you didn’t like. The following are some ways to help you deal with your grief under these circumstances: 

1. Accept your grief

Coming to terms with the death of someone you didn’t like might take some effort. Especially if you’re feeling guilty over not crying over their death. It is something that takes practice and acknowledgment, but try to work on accepting your grief in whatever form it comes in.

You may find it useful to take stock of your feelings regarding their death. Allow those feelings to marinate for a few days or weeks before concluding what their death means to you. Accept those feelings for what they are without needing to justify them or making excuses for them. Your grief journey is yours alone, and no one else has a right to tell you how you should be feeling or reacting to someone else’s death. 

2. Talk it over

Find someone you can confide in to tell them your most profound feelings regarding the person who died. This person may not always be your partner or significant other. Consider the relationship with the person who died and that of your closest confidant before opening up to them about how you genuinely feel about the deceased.

It may be that they don’t harbor the same resentments toward them, and they may not agree with you or support you in your feelings. Find yourself a support person or group of people outside of your immediate circle that can relate to your experience. 

3. It’s okay to feel relief

It’s not uncommon to feel relieved rather than saddened over the death of someone that caused you misery. Don’t guilt yourself into feeling sad or any other emotions that aren’t real and authentic. Simply wanting relief from the stress that someone causes you doesn’t mean that you wished death upon them or don’t respect human life. If their death was the only way to stop their behavior, then it’s natural for you to feel relieved that they died.

You don’t have to force yourself to feel anything other than relief. If joy and happiness happen to creep in, that’s okay, too. You can decide to either keep these different feelings to yourself or share them with your support group. 

4. Accept others’ opinions

Other people may not hold the same view of the deceased as you. It may help to accept others’ ideas instead of fighting against them and trying to make them see things from your perspective. This can be said for times when a parent or in-law was less than kind to you, your spouse, or your children, but who was good to others in your extended family.

Everyone’s experience with that person is different and unique to them. You’ll do yourself a massive favor by accepting your truth without minimizing other’s experiences with how they’re grieving their loss. 

5. Give an honest eulogy

At the funeral, if asked or cornered into giving a eulogy for someone that you didn’t quite like, consider adding humor to your words. Sometimes it can come down to the delivery. It may be that other people present were also aware of the deceased’s abusive or harmful demeanor. There are many colorful yet respectful ways to say the same thing without causing a scene or being disrespectful at the funeral.

When everyone expects the canonization of the person who’s died, they may be pleasantly relieved to hear honest words shared tastefully. There’s a saying that everyone who’s born brings joy to this world. Some when they enter it, some during their lifetimes, and others on their way out. 

6. Understand grief

Grief comes in many different forms. When dealing with the death of someone you disliked, it’s possible that you’ve already grieved your relationship even before they died. In cases of close family members or in-laws, you may already have processed grieving the loss or lack of connection between you in the years that you’ve known them. You may have suffered the relationship that you wish you two could’ve had or the loss of the connection that once was. 

You may have even experienced what’s referred to as absent grief. This is a type of response to the death of a loved one where you simply don’t show any signs of suffering. It’s perfectly normal not to feel anything when someone dies with whom you didn’t have a good relationship with. 

7. Give support where needed

Other family members may be experiencing a different type of grief reaction to losing the person you hate. Consider shifting some of your joy toward lending support to others who may have difficulty processing their loss. Your spouse or partner, for example, may have had a different relationship to the person who died and may be struggling with their death.

Your children may also need you to understand their pain and comfort them in their time of sorrow. Take this opportunity to lend support by helping others work through their grief. Supporting your family and loved ones doesn’t mean you’ve consented to feel bereaved. 

8. Love doesn’t mean like

You can love someone and not like them at the same time. This is true of complicated relationships between close family members or those whom you feel forced to love in life. When someone’s been rotten to you, abusive, or otherwise manipulative and hard to deal with, it’s almost impossible to feel remorse or regret when they die. Under these circumstances, most people feel nothing but joy, happiness, and relief at their death.

You don’t have to like someone you love, and you don’t have to suffer their death in ways that are not authentic to how you feel.  

9. Make peace with their death

When someone you hate dies, you may be rejoicing at how much better life is without them. It’s completely normal to feel this way. You can make peace with your feelings toward them by accepting things as they were without needing to justify any aspect of your experience with them.

Some people can be the most loving and nurturing people while being the nastiest human being to others. If your experience lends itself to the latter, accept it for what it is and move on from their death a better person for it.

10. Find forgiveness

If the deceased has caused you damage or harmed you in any way, forgiving them may not be an option or consideration. Sometimes, however, a false bravado can hide an emotional pain that’s buried deep inside you. Learn to forgive yourself even when there’s no possibility of forgiving the other person. Ask yourself, in the end, who’s being hurt the most by your inability to forgive? If it’s you, then forgive yourself for it and move on. 

11. Seek out counseling or therapy

Even when you think that this person’s death has resolved all of your issues, it’s still possible to need counseling or treatment in the coming weeks. When you have a contentious relationship with someone, and it doesn’t resolve before they die, you may feel slighted at the unfinished business left behind.

Seeking online therapy or counseling can help you determine some of these internal conflicts you may be experiencing. An experienced grief professional can help you find closure and meaning in the death of your loved one. 

The Death of Someone You Hate

At the death of someone you hate, focus on putting their memory behind you, and letting closure come quickly. Focus on moving forward without placing too much emphasis on what this person meant to you while they were alive. Take solace in knowing that you can now forget about them and leave behind the negative impact they had on you. It may take some work or therapy to get there. But, eventually, you’ll get there.

And, remember, it’s okay. You’re okay.

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