Donna Shin Wellness Coach

grief and trauma

Complex Grief and Trauma in Toxic Relationships

We can’t talk about narcissistic emotional abuse without talking about grief and trauma. Both  of these will come up in your recovery. Each individual has their own unique losses to assess  and to grieve if it becomes necessary to leave the relationship. Some of these may include: 

  • loss of a dream
  • loss of an intact family
  • loss of a home, or finances
  • loss in standard of living
  • loss of connection to someone you thought loved you
  • loss or change in relationships
  • loss of self 

These changes are very difficult and will take time and a healthy grief process to come to  acceptance of —and it takes as long as it takes. Professional support can be extremely helpful  here as well as a strong support system.  

Problems arise however, if the grief becomes complicated. Research tells us that 16-20%  of grief is complicated. This often has to do with unresolved past losses or difficult past  relationships. In this case professional help is often not optional. Help is needed to make  sense of all that is coming up in you with the powerful current grief.  

A breakup with someone with narcissism or pathology is not a normal break-up. Dealing with  all of the possible manipulations, silent treatments, parental alienation and getting no rational  closure is more than enough by itself. If the current grief is bringing up, which it often does,  other dormant past grief on top of all this it can feel overwhelming.  

The good news is that a powerful grief journey often has the energy to heal layers of pain that  have been residing below the surface. You need someone who is trained and experienced to  guide you through it.  


Depending on the individual circumstance in your relationship there is a high probability  that you will experience trauma from emotional abuse. 95% of survivors have some  symptoms of trauma while 50- 70% will have full blown PTSD or C-PTSD. Being shamed,  blamed, gaslighted, manipulated, lied to and and dismissed changes you. The longer you stay  in the relationship the more damaging it becomes. Slowly your beliefs about yourself erode and change the self you knew. Some of the damage may cause: 

  • self-doubt 
  • shame 
  • confusion 
  • low self-esteem 
  • mental health conditions 
  • physical health challenges 
  • attachment problems 
  • disconnection from self

As you can see the ability to recover from an emotionally abusive relationship and get past any  complications or stuckness is heroic and takes tremendous courage and support to navigate.  

Extricating yourself takes education and careful discernment to maintain your sanity and  safety. Your body and brain adapt to keep you safe. Listen to your body and you intuition if  something or someone feels off to you.  

Peeling away a layer of childhood trauma or neglect is often necessary when recovering from a  pathological partner. Although difficult it can help you understand why you became involved  with such a person. This is not always true but looking at yourself and possible blind spots or  vulnerabilities is wise.  

Better to take the dedicated time and season to do this important work as not to repeat the  pattern in the next relationship. With the new growth, awareness, and transformation that  comes you will be able to move mountains. 

With light, love and strength,

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