The concept of relief after death might be a topic that is difficult to talk about. It may seem counterintuitive to think about how to grieve when death is a relief. It might even seem impossible to discuss. Isn’t death always bad? Shouldn’t we always be sad? What happens if we feel relief after the death of a parent or other loved one?
There Is No Right Way to Grieve
Ask anyone who works at a funeral home and they will tell you: no two people grieve the same way. They’d also tell you that one way of grieving isn’t any better or worse than another way. So much depends on the relationship the grieving person had with the deceased, how the grieving person views death, the extenuating circumstances of both people’s lives, and so much more.
The emotions that come with grief are myriad and include sadness, despair, denial, disbelief, confusion, hopelessness. Some people feel angry or humiliated. But some people might feel relief or even happiness when a loved one passes. Working with an established, reputable funeral home means that you have help no matter which emotions are most prevalent for you and your loved ones.
Caregiver Relief After Death
It’s not uncommon for caregivers to experience a rollercoaster of emotions when a loved one passes. Not only might their emotions change frequently, but one emotion can impact another.
Consider, for example, a wife who has been a caregiver for her husband. Being a caregiver can and often is a full-time job. It usurps time that a person might spend doing activities that bring them joy. It might also mean that the caregiver experiences burnout and exhaustion.
Yet they continue to care for their sick or dying loved one for important reasons. Certainly, a wife caring for her dying husband does so out of love. Or adult children might be caregivers to a dying parent out of a sense of both love and duty.
No matter how strong those feelings of love and loyalty are, there is a real toll that comes with caregiving. Caregivers can suffer from depression and anxiety. Their health can diminish. They can lose touch with other family members and friends.
One of the definitions of the word “relief” is “the feeling of happiness that you have when something unpleasant stops or does not happen.” Relief after death is complicated in so many ways, and associating the word “happiness” with the death of a loved one can seem cold or even wrong.
Feeling Relief After Dementia Death
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can take loved ones away from us before death takes their bodies away. Watching a loved one lose their memories and their ability to function on their own is traumatic in its own way. It is not uncommon to grieve the loss of a parent to dementia before they pass away.
Once someone suffering from dementia passes, their loved ones might feel relief as they grieve. This is because they saw how miserable their loved one was as the disease progressed, and they no longer want someone they know and love to be in so much pain.
These feelings are common and valid. And in situations of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, loved ones might grieve more than once or for even longer, because they grieve the loss of the person they know as the disease progresses, and then their ultimate death.
Feeling Relief After a Death Is Complicated
But grief isn’t one-dimensional. Part of the complication of feeling relief after a death is that a person can both feel relieved and grieve at the same time. For instance, if a wife has been a full-time caregiver to her husband, she will likely feel sadness and despair and loneliness after he passes. But she might feel relief that he is no longer suffering. Or she might be relieved to have more time to take care of herself.
These complicated emotions happen at the same time but they do not cancel each other out. They coexist in a very human, sometimes very messy way. As a funeral home that has worked with families for generations, we’ve seen it time and again. We’re here to tell you that your feelings are valid and normal, even if they are complicated and seem different from others.
Feeling Relief After the Death of a Parent
The death of a parent can be traumatic for different reasons. If you have a loving, caring relationship with a parent, of course you will feel their loss. You might grieve in a way that allows you to reflect on how important your parent was for you, and how much you loved them.
But not everyone has a loving relationship with their parents. Some have suffered emotional and physical abuse, trauma, and neglect. Some have vastly different philosophies on life than their parents and never see eye to eye on anything. Some people don’t think their parent is a good person and have opted to not include them in their life.
In those situations, the death of a parent can bring an even more complicated mix of emotions. There might be relief that the person who has caused harm can no longer do so. This is a difficult situation to talk about, but as a funeral home that values every family and each circumstance, we know how to navigate these types of dynamics.
There might also be regret that, now that the parent has passed, there will never be a chance to reconcile or work through whatever issues kept you apart. Whatever your unique circumstances, know that you can trust us to be the funeral home that respects your feelings and helps as your family grieves.
Bateman-Allen Funeral Home has been serving Pennsylvania families in their most trying times for generations. We’d be honored to be trusted to help you as you face the loss of a loved one. Reach out to us at any time.