Going no contact with toxic family members is a tough decision and deals with the same levels of grief as death. But grieving over the loss of a family from no contact has the added bonus of anxiety for wasted time and even regret for not maintaining that relationship while you still can.
In my year of no contact, I have had three family members pass suddenly. I was fortunate to have been able to see one of my uncles before he passed, getting to say my goodbyes in peace. I have made my peace with their passing and I have been able to maintain the emotional healing I have accomplished so far. Surprising in a way, considering I found out of one from a cousin yelling at me for not telling her as soon as I answered the phone, my brother texting me on my birthday to tell me of another and my mother sending me a text about the passing of my other uncle.
But this has left a sense of anxiety for the remaining family I have left. My grandfather, in particular. He was the man who raised me and the biggest influence. He wasn’t perfect, but he is a great man. And he is a flying monkey, maybe even one of the most dedicated. He is loyal to a fault, and his loyalty will always go to my mother. The way I see it is it isn’t his fault. He is being punished with my no contact (and being cut from the children’s lives) because of my mother’s actions. I have to protect my children, but I know I am hurting someone who I love dearly.
Do you break no contact for a death?
Breaking no contact will depend on who you have no contact with. Going to a dead ex-partner’s funeral that you’ve had no contact with for a significant period of time will make it look like you are there to dance on their grave rather than pay your respects. And honestly, if you do break no contact in this scenario, go big or stay home. Bust out the boombox and dance like no one’s watching.
If your no contact is with only one person in your family, then I would consider going to the funeral and simply avoiding that person as best you can. In my case, I’ve gone no contact with my entire family. So breaking that leaves me extremely vulnerable to abuse, guilt trips, and flying monkeys (oh my!). I would sit down and really think about who the deceased was to you, how important it would be for you to go, and what are all the scenarios that could play out – both good and bad – if you attend.
Once you list out all of the scenarios, make a game plan for dealing with each one. Come up with code words you can use so your partner, or wing-man, will know how to help you out of a situation or be supportive without tipping off your Narc. I strongly suggest if you decide to attend, do not go alone!!! You need at least one person on your team, and if your abuser is a family member, you have no idea how many people have been turned to the dark side. Think of it like the Zombie Apocalypse. Always have a bug-out buddy!
Time really does heal all wounds
Time plays a huge factor on breaking no contact. If it has only been a few weeks, or less than a year, I suggest doing some serious soul-searching before breaking your no contact. The pain could still be too fresh from the abuse and breaking could send you back to square one, or worse. No one is worth putting yourself in emotional danger.
On the other side of the coin, if it has been years since you’ve had contact with your abuser, you need to ask if it is even worth dragging that back into your life. You’ve gone this long without that person, and you are doing great without them. By this time all of your pain will be dead and buried (I hate puns but I can’t resist them lol) and it’s really not worth digging it back up (again, I can’t resist).
What can you expect from your Narc abuser?
Funerals are supposed to be a time of mourning, remembrance, and coming together as a family to help support each other through the grief. If you are like me, and came from an abusive mother and flying monkey family members, you are probably laughing and I don’t need to explain why it is more likely for a dragon to swoop down on the ceremony and eat everyone like the herd of sheep they are.
If you decide to go to the funeral, you can definitely expect your abuser to lay on a thick layer of abuse and guilt. You were a supply to them and you’ve been gone. It will be like an addict falling off the wagon and having a $800 reunion with his long-lost habit. But unlike heroin, you can choose to be available to them or not.
It can also be expected to have flying monkeys swarming around you. They see you as the problem, or the mean one, and they will defend the real abuser by attacking you or being passive-aggressive with their opinion of your “behavior.” I suggest making a family tree and list out who is the abuser[s] and who are the flying monkeys. This will make you aware of whom to keep your guard up around and who will need to be avoided entirely.
How can you grieve without being vulnerable?
I cannot stress this enough: you do not have to feel guilty for the time passed or the deceased passing without saying goodbye in life. Your time is a gift; the only person you owe your time to is you. So don’t feel obligated to attend a funeral or mourn the way they want you to. It is completely acceptable to stay home and have a moment for yourself and happy thoughts of the deceased.
You can go to a church and say a prayer in silence, light a candle, or just dedicate a moment to the deceased. You can visit the grave site later in the week to pay your respects and avoid family entirely. And you can always have a get-together with your friends and select family members that don’t reside under the abuser’s thumb. This gives you your own wake and closure without opening yourself up to the abuse.
Whatever you decide to do, remember that no one can tell you how to mourn. Do what feels right for you and honor the deceased the way you want.
How do you help the children?
Having kids makes things a little different. As parents, we will endure anything for our babies. But sometimes, you have to decide what exactly you want to endure and if it will even be worth it.
Not only will you have to follow all the steps from before for yourself, but you need to do the same for each kid individually. You need to decide if it is worth dragging them into that situation. Who is the deceased to your child? How long and extensive was their relationship? Who will attack your children or trick information out of them? Can you get away with not including the kids?
Nothing is worth jeopardizing your health or that of your kids. If you must go to a funeral then go. But do it for you! Snag my free abuse warning signs printout and use it to track your children’s behaviors before, during, and after breaking no contact. You can get it in the form below. Like and share this post on Pinterest and Facebook. Have you experienced a death in your life that ended up opening the floodgates to emotional abuse? Share your story in the comments below!