Home » Ask the Therapist » My Dad Died, But All I Feel Is Relief

My Dad Died, But All I Feel Is Relief

Asked by on with 1 answer:

My Dad passed away a little over a year ago after a 13-year battle with cancer. Everyone in my family mourns him, but I never grieved and all I feel is relief. It doesn’t hurt me the way it does my siblings…it really doesn’t hurt me at all.

I’ve never been that close to my Dad and even though everyone said he loved me dearly it rarely ever showed once I passed a certain age. All I remember after about age 7 is trying to avoid him as much as possible (he tried to throw me out of the house at 7 while my mother just stood there and watched). After that, the same type of interactions were common between us. He would throw a knife at me, shove me into counters, completely lose his temper over something as simple as asking to stay after at school. But this only happened to me. He doted on the younger three.

Everyone expects me to be upset and sad and cry. But I can’t. Everyone keeps saying what a good guy he was and how they “know how much I must miss him.” But I don’t! And it makes me angry to hear everyone say that. All I feel is relief that he is gone. It sounds awful and I feel like I’m a bad daughter and older sister for thinking that. I’ve not told anyone in my family this. Is this a normal response to the death of a parent? And to feel guilt that I am not sad at all about his death? (From Guam)

My Dad Died, But All I Feel Is Relief

Answered by on -


This is very normal when your father throws a knife at you, shoves you into counters, and rages at you for no reason. A parent that tries to throw a 7-year-old out of their house isn’t someone that has done a good job being a parent with his daughter. Feeling relieved when he passed makes sense. How could you miss someone that has mistreated you so badly?

Others in your family don’t know — so it is hard for them to grasp the lack of feeling. Perhaps when you are ready you may explain what is going on with a trusted sibling. This should help them understand your reactions

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

My Dad Died, But All I Feel Is Relief

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). My Dad Died, But All I Feel Is Relief. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 2, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 19 Feb 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.