Former child actor Jennette McCurdy‘s bestselling new memoir I’m Glad My Mom Died has been notable not only for its popularity among readers but also for its title alone. She blatantly admits being happy her mother is dead? Who does that?!
Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon: “When the book debuted earlier this month [August 2022], it became an instant bestseller and sold out on Amazon. Its success revealed that there is a whole population of survivors who have complicated feelings toward our deceased relatives.”
In the following top quote from the book McCurdy, now 30, contemplates her abusive mom‘s death:
I take a longer look at the words on her headstone.
Brave, kind, loyal, sweet, loving, graceful, strong, thoughtful, funny, genuine, hopeful, playful, insightful, and on and on…
Was she, though? Was she any of those things? The words make me angry. I can’t look at them any longer.
Why do we romanticize the dead? Why can’t we be honest about them?
Well, honesty about this is hard, but it does happen. Google the topic. You will definitely find others confessing a lack of sadness over their parents’ deaths.
I can tell you I’m glad my father died. It’s not that he was abusive, it’s that he just wasn’t there throughout my entire life. I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me, so until he died he was already a ghost anyway—one who made my life challenging at times. (Explaining this further might involve a book’s worth of thoughts and feelings.)
It may be much harder for most to admit similar feelings about their Mother, though. That’s just a thing I probably don’t even have to explain.
McCurdy has done a lot of work on herself to get to the place of being able to write I’m Glad My Mom Died. Previously she had developed a one-woman show of the same title; she also does a podcast called Empty Inside. And, ta-da, she goes to therapy.
As the author told the Associated Press, therapy alone wasn’t cutting it, however. Putting together her show and doing her other writing have also been important. “Processing the events that happened in my childhood took so long in therapy. I needed to do so much of that excavating work on my own.”
Which is not to discount her therapy’s impact. Therapy has helped her significantly, for example, with her eating disorders. “…I don’t obsess about food at all. I say this because I want people to know that I do believe it’s possible to not have it haunt you for the rest of your life. I feel great in my recovery. I consider myself recovered. For anybody who might be struggling now, I want them to know it’s possible to recover.”
Are you grappling with the death of an abusive or toxic parent? Dr. Alejandra Vasquez, JD, CT, Certified Grief Counselor, has a pertinent article at Join Cake.
You might, of course, also be interested in I’m Glad My Mom Died.
Years ago when my father died I was in my forties and I went to his funeral I remember thinking, “Well that’s that, I won’t have to deal with him when I go visit mom” I never shed a single tear over his death and while I wasn’t particularly “happy” that he had died but I was relieved that a difficult part of my life had ended. It was a valuable lesson for me: I learned that when there are people in your life who consistently work against you the best you can do is to forgive them for your own sake and cut them out of your life instead of waiting for something else to cut them out of your life.