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How Grief Affects Your Relationships

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 15 May 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Grief bereavement loss emotions

Usually when someone dies those close to him or her will feel intense emotions that can often unsettle their own personal relationships. Grief, or the emotions felt due to a loss, can be particularly hard to cope with for both the bereaved and those who are trying to be supportive. Thankfully, with mutual respect and patience, relationships can withstand and even sometimes grow stronger due to grief.

What Is Grief?

Generally speaking grief is an emotional response to the death of a loved one. Very often grief is equated to sadness, though it is not always so simple. Instead, grief often involves a progression of different emotions and reactions that include shock and/or numbness, anxiety, anger and sadness. It may take days, weeks or even years for someone who is grieving to cycle through all of these stages and some people never experience all of these emotions due to a particular loss, or experience some emotions related to one loss but different emotions due to another. This is perfectly normal. There is no set itinerary for grief, though if there is a distinct lack of emotional response, or an emotional response so overwhelming that it begins to affect a person’s employment, education or personal relationships then it may be best to consult a counsellor.

Grief and Relationships

Grief can take a toll on relationships because it is primarily an individual experience. Partners can try to understand someone else’s grief but they can never experience it or take on the burden themselves. Grief can have a number of affects on relationships. Partners may grow closer as they need each for support or realise that they would like to spend more time together. However, partners may also grow apart if the grieving individual retreats into him or herself, his or her partner loses patience with grief or a combination. Intimate relationships may also experience a slow period if the grieving individual does not feel like becoming physically close to others. Finally, some relationships may not experience any changes if grief is not intense, if it is fleeting or if partners are able to give and receive support in an open and “efficient” manner.

Supporting Others Through Grief

Perhaps the greatest mistake someone attempting to comfort or console another can make is to insist on how the other must be feeling. Instead, friends and relatives of the bereaved should be patient with whatever emotions the individual may be feeling without deciding whether these emotions are “right” or “appropriate”. Talking about how each person is feeling often helps everyone stay on the same page and understand more about what others are going through, and scheduling activities that the bereaved enjoys may help him or her to experience positive emotions. If more than one person is experience grief at the same time, it may be that allowing each to experience their own grief without feeling that they must make the other feel better helps all involved. However, throughout grief, physical affection, tokens of love and affection, and reminders that others will always be there for the bereaved will likely always be appreciated.

Grief is often a solitary, unique experience. Others will never be able to understand exactly how the bereaved is feeling, so patience with whatever may come will help all relationships stay strong. If it is believed that grief is interfering with the bereaved life then counselling may be in order.

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On May 3rd 2018 my husband was admitted to hospital with pulmonary emholi. A CT scan showed that there was 'something else' was there in his lungs. Finally after more scans and biopsies we were told on 24th May that he had stage 4 lung cancer which had already spread to his lymph glands and various bones...shoulder blade, rib, and spine. He was told it was incurable, but manageable. He was asked if he wanted to know 'how long'...he said no. He was offered chemo to help manage the condition but after the first dose was unwell,and after a week was admitted to hospital with C.Difficile. While he was in hospital he picked up pneumonia, and after just 3 days at home was readmitted to hospital. Two weeks later he was sent home,much to my surprise as he was clearly still very unwell. Within hours he was back in there again. More anti biotics, several blood transfusions(why he needed those I don't know). Two days later I was told they would be starting 'end of life care, and I should call the family round. My daughter and family were in Italy on holiday.My son at the other end of the country. Thankfully they both arrived the next day and saw their Dad briefly before he passed away a few hours later, just 6 weeks from diagnosis. I coped so well for a while, I was determined to get through till Christmas! Then on boxing day I hit the deck!...and I haven't picked up since. In fact I've got steadily worse,and finally after sitting here contemplating a huge box of tablets,I phone the Samaritans help line. That weekend was dreadful. Admitting to my daughter what I'd had in mind. So we've tried to get some counselling for me. Our NHS, a long waiting list. Cruse Bereavement, a two month waiting list. So I'm going privately and had my first informal meeting with a counsellor yesterday. It's something I've never wanted to do...but I've got to do somethingI can't carry on the way I am. So I'll give it a go. Watch this space! !
ASL - 10-May-19 @ 11:09 AM
I lost my Mom, Dad and Aunt last year. It was 4 months after the death of my dad my wife told me she couldn’t deal with my sadness. I needed to get help and she couldn’t help me deal with my lost. (I was one therapy at the time and asked her to join me) She left me with our son and all the household and finances responsibility. I still greaves but feel guilty now trying to hide so not to run anybody else off. This sucks
Lonely - 19-Apr-19 @ 2:03 PM
My boyfriend works away a lot, I hadn’t seen him in a few weeks and when he got back unfortunately my sister lost her battle with cancer. It has broke my heart and my partner has not been there for me at all despite telling me he will always make me happy and be there for me. He’s making me miserable. All my family have told me to breakup with him, but I’m already grieving over my sister and the pain in incredibly unbearable already. He doesn’t realise how much I physically need him with me and to support me. My heads a mess and I don’t know what to do. I feel so lost and lonely
Bexbub - 18-Apr-19 @ 12:34 AM
My boyfriend of 4 months mother got sick and was sent to the hospital. My bf didnt know she was sick. She had conjested heart failure. She was in the hospital for a few days and died on March 22. He didnt invite me to the funeral or to the hospital. He kept me updated with everything but he never wanted me around as I felt. A few days beforehand I told him I wanted to be friends because he wouldn't let me be there for him. He got upset and told me that he didn't need me and I couldn't do anything for him at all. I felt horrible and I was only trying to be there for him.until I felt as if he didnt need me. We were in love. How could he not want me to be around and be there for him. I didnt understand. So he hasnt called or messaged for a days almost a week. He eventually called yesterday and told me the reason why we are not talking was because I broke it off with him. He kept crying and was still devastated that his mother was gone. I felt invisible and unwanted. I didnt know what else to do. Now I feel wrong and felt like I lost him.
Mimi - 9-Apr-19 @ 4:15 PM
My partner of 8 years lost her father 6 weeks ago,since then she has pushed me away,. Didn't want to see or speak to me however much I tried to help her. She now says that her feelings for me are not like they were, she said that we should just be friends, I want us back but dont know how to go about it.
lost love - 8-Apr-19 @ 1:45 PM
at this moment in time,all i want is to be with my partner ,who passed away on `10th feb,2019 her funeral was 11 march ,i cannot clear my head with the what ifs etc etc.she was my world she meant more to me than life itself,at present im very emotional and constantly crying .i was with her for about 28 years,and i was so in love with her,i cannot see the point of carry on with my life.
jayneian - 21-Mar-19 @ 12:45 AM
My grandma who I was very close with passed away early February this year. She was terminally ill and sick for a very long time. I’ve just started up uni and a new job and I’ve been living with my boyfriend of 9 months since January.I am very excited about the year to come, but I find myself teary when I’m around my boyfriend and very clingy. I keep misinterpreting his actions and mood (i.e. he’s in a rush and I interpret that he’s mad at me). I’m not usually like this with him, could this be to do with me grieving? And how do I stop it, because i fear it will hurt our relationship.
Teary Girl - 20-Mar-19 @ 7:10 AM
my partner of 28 years,went to the doctors on 23rd of january 2019,was told by doctor she needed go to hospital,whilst there she had a scan,and phoned me up with the result.i broke down when she said she had cancer.yet on 10th may 2018 she was given the all clear,pains under her breast and lower left hand side of her back plus joint pains were all thought to be side effects of the operation and radio therapy plus side effects of the drugs she was on.when infact they are also the signs of cancer .its beyond belief that doctors could of given my partner the all clear with no follow up scans and they must of overlooked other parts of the body when they did the scan on 10th may 2018,as on 10th feb my world fell around me as my loving long term partner passed away in a hospice with me by her side holding her hand.more needs doing to have monthly follow up checks to see if cancer is returning ,not them giving the all clear and nothing,pathetic that lives every year are lost because doctors dont have follow up checks.sorry but im missing my partner so much and at present have not had bereavement counselling which i know i need,im on a waiting list,hopefully i will get help before i lose it.all i want now is to know 100 percent that i can be laid to rest next to my lost soul mate.as she was my world and im lost without her.
jayneian - 17-Mar-19 @ 2:16 PM
my partner of 28 years,went to the doctors on 23rd of january 2019,was told by doctor she needed go to hospital,whilst there she had a scan,and phoned me up with the result.i broke down when she said she had cancer.yet on 10th may 2018 she was given the all clear,pains under her breast and lower left hand side of her back plus joint pains were all thought to be side effects of the operation and radio therapy plus side effects of the drugs she was on.when infact they are also the signs of cancer .its beyond belief that doctors could of given my partner the all clear with no follow up scans and they must of overlooked other parts of the body when they did the scan on 10th may 2018,as on 10th feb my world fell around me as my loving long term partner passed away in a hospice with me by her side holding her hand.more needs doing to have monthly follow up checks to see if cancer is returning ,not them giving the all clear and nothing,pathetic that lives every year are lost because doctors dont have follow up checks.sorry but im missing my partner so much and at present have not had bereavement counselling which i know i need,im on a waiting list,hopefully i will get help before i lose it.all i want now is to know 100 percent that i can be laid to rest next to my lost soul mate.as she was my world and im lost without her.
jayneian - 17-Mar-19 @ 2:16 PM
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Taylor - 25-Feb-19 @ 7:48 PM
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Dianne - 28-Sep-18 @ 6:39 PM
Wwe - Your Question:
My current situation is that my. boyfriend's dad is terminally ill and I know that sadness all too well although I never met his father for the past 24 hours I couldn't stop crying because I lost my dad 2010 how can I help my boyfriend emotionally without breaking down every time we talk

Our Response:
Can you put your thoughts in writing for him to read? Perhaps letting him know that you empathise because you've been through a similar situation will help. You can then say you want to support him and ask him how you can best do this.It might help if you sought counselling yourself to help you through your long standing grief.
FacingBereavement - 9-May-18 @ 3:17 PM
My current situation is that my. boyfriend's dad is terminally illand I know that sadness all too well although I never met his father for the past 24 hours I couldn't stop cryingbecause I lost my dad 2010how can I help my boyfriend emotionally without breaking down every time wetalk
Wwe - 9-May-18 @ 4:29 AM
My wife died from metastatic breast cancer 3 weeks ago. We had 30 years of faithful, and loving times. We knew 8 months ago what the outcome would be, so we were given time to say goodbyes to friends, family, and ourselves. Of course we did many things together, but we also had our own interests. We would give each other the time to pursue these interests with no jealousy, or regret. She would be gone a portion of the winter teaching skiing in the West, or going so artist workshops, and I would go on my annual motorcycle ride with buds, play my music, or do whatever. During the last eight months, we have talked about how I would manage without her. Trust me that for the last 3 weeks I have been through a lot of grieving..The gift that I was given from her is that I know in my heart it is grieving and not depression.I am beginning to see glimpses of all the great memories we had and my smile has, at times, appeared. What I do know for sure is that she is irreplaceable. I am not so old that she wanted me to find someone else. Wether I do or not, is a story, yet written, but if I ever do, that lady is going to have to be ok with my ashes being put next to hers. That’s how I am ordering the stone anyway.
Jay - 2-May-18 @ 12:14 AM
On the same week my Mother was in the hospital from a broken hip and died and my wife's adult daughter was diagnosed with Brain Cancer and had surgery the day following my Moms death. This is a situation where neither spouse could support the other. My wifes daughter survived the surgery and is going through the therapies that typically are required. Even though I know all this still I am angry with her because she would not come to the hospital with me to see my moms body the day she died. Her daughter was fine that day and was just waiting for the surgery. I was disappointed because while I was leaving to the hospital where my Mother was she asked me for a ride to the daughters hospital and to help her with paper work before I took her there. Maybe i'm over-reacting but that one couple of hours I needed her the most and she didn't want to be there for me. Her daughter has her husband and a ton of family support I had one person to turn to when I she was not there when I needed her the most. I'm on the second day after my Mom's passing and have yet to see my wife as she is still with her daughter. Funeral is Friday and i'm not sure if she is coming or not yet. After all this is done I guess we will see how the marriage survives.
Calman - 25-Apr-18 @ 6:19 PM
As I've read over these testimonials of grieving people, my heart hurts for them all. Grief is the loss of a job, a relationship (divorce or death), or anything that breaks up the foundation of your life. I am truly sorry for all those in so much pain. My husband died over 3 years ago. We were married 25 years. I miss him very much and have found the holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries difficult without him. Today was his birthday and I cried thinking of him. However, I have not "lost" him as I know where it is and will one day see him again, although that day is not today. We loved each other very much and I know he would not want me to stop living because he is not here. I would have wanted him to choose joy and seek happiness if I were the one who died instead of him. I know that's what he would want of me. How do I cope? I choose joy. Everyday, I choose joy. I know I was created for a purpose so I seek God's guidance to light my path to help others and glorify His name. Knowing my life has meaning helps me cope with my grief.
The Joyful Widow - 3-Apr-18 @ 12:01 AM
Please advise us. This year has been awful to say the least. My partners dad died just before Xmas. My step mum died and then my mum's partner died.At the same time my partner had a brain stem stroke. My partners mum is coping as is my dad. However my mum with the loss of her partner is all over the place. I am having to manage my own household with my partner after his stroke and my two teenage sons. My mum is just not coping at all. I know she's grieving but so is the rest of the family with the other relatives dying and my partners stroke. I just don't know what to do about my mum. She comes round every day she calls every day. We are suggesting what to do about every day things that need doing. She listens but then goes to the next person to ask the same questions to them. She is creating so much more work for herself but not achieving anything. I'm worried I will just snap at her because she's not taking on board anything that we are all going through as well.
Jules - 28-Mar-18 @ 7:31 PM
I lost my Dad 3 months ago. I am in a long distance relationship with my Partner of nearly 3 years and I don't feel like he is there for me.He came with me to the funeral and stayed 2 weeks - went home for 2 weeks for work - and came back for 2 weeks and left 20 February.He next plan to come and visit me on the 26 April - we will have been apart for 9 weeks.With everything I have been going through, I feel this is too long.I am so angry with him for not making more of an effort and putting his work before my feelings and well being. I feel like our relationship is going to break down because of this which is just adding to my grief and feeling like my life is spiralling out of control.
Starbucks Sara - 28-Mar-18 @ 12:54 PM
I really don’t know where to start I lost my Mam 7 months ago and have had so much rage and anger that I’ve lost my realationship with my partner. He’s tried to help me however I’ve pushed and pushed him away until it’s come to where we don’t go more than 2 days without me flying of the handle. I’ve became a bit of a recluse and I just don’t know which way to turn.
Kellyjo - 12-Mar-18 @ 7:20 PM
My husband lost his mom on March 25 of 2017. It was a long hard journey his sister was the POA and would not let him know any information on his mother in the nursing home. As it was his dad died when he was 11 his mom had her first stroke 3 weeks later at the age of 30. It was just him and his sister against the world. for 5 years before his mother did his sister and her family only visited his mom once a year on the thanksgiving dinner that the nursing home had for families. He would make the hour trip at least once a month to visit. 6 weeks before his mom died my husband started calling his sister telling her that she was not well and it was not going to make it much longer begging for her to see his mom. she never went down.toward the end he begged her to move her closer he didn't want her to die alone. his sister would say that she didn't want to deal with the phone calls he told her that he would take them he would do it all he just wanted it done. her response was fine but I'm not doing it for her. she died that night he never got to bring her closer. He has a lot of guilt on how his mom died and he feels he didn't fight hard enough for her. he has never said anything to his sister about any of this. His sister walked out of the funeral with his moms ashes and has not talked to him since. In the last year he has started drinking, his personality has change considerably the most loving and empathetic man I know and now he doesn't even act like we exist he will joke or talk out in public but at home he is not the same man i have asked him to go to counseling but he refuses. can you help.
Missy - 9-Mar-18 @ 6:50 PM
Missy - Your Question:
My husband passed away 6 months ago from cancer I loved him very much, He has a relative that he asked to stay here and take care of things for me financially and fix things that I couldn't, He is the same age as me , he started washing dishes just really sweet little things.he sits up late at night and talks with me.we neither one have much family other than our children, no we have not been romantic.but I care for him very deeply.I have tried to explain myself to him but he just don't get it.he is very generous and so so sweet, so is this grief or real feelings and we make plans it's almost like being married but without romance I don't know how else to say it !!!

Our Response:
We really can't say whether this is grief or not but it mightbe worth allowing yourself more time. Perhaps doing things separately, even asking him to move out for a while? That way you may be able to tell whether you're subconsciously looking for someone to fill a space in your life or that you genuinely feel for each other.
FacingBereavement - 9-Mar-18 @ 2:40 PM
My husband passed away 6 months ago from cancer I loved him very much, He has a relative that he asked to stay here and take care of things for me financially and fix things that I couldn't, He is the same age as me , he started washing dishes just really sweet little things ....he sits up late at night and talks with me ....we neither one have much family other than our children, no we have not been romantic ...but I care for him very deeply ...I have tried to explain myself to him but he just don't get it ....he is very generous and so so sweet, so is this grief or real feelings and we make plans it's almost like being married but without romance I don't know how else to say it !!!
Missy - 8-Mar-18 @ 5:37 PM
Y partner lost his mum to cancer last year the anniversary is nearly here.....we have 2children a 10 year old and a 7 month old since we had our 2nd child things have never been the same every time she crys he complains with sly remarks he never does anything with her he needs the break all the time I've never had my hair done since last auguest I've ever spent time away from my kids sinc we had our 2nd child.....he's starting to not come home from a night out he's also caused an argument tonight Togo out smashed my house up told me I'm a horrible person and I make him do this .... the for him to leave and message wanting to pick work clothes up to now wanting to stay on the sofa.....we have a very talented son who enjoys sports and I don't want this to knock is confidence and most of all to think this isn't exceptable to treat a woman.....we've been together 12 years and now it's all gone just like that
Quitegirl - 10-Feb-18 @ 9:25 PM
Hello. I am 30 years old, just had my first child 4 months ago and lost my mom the beginning of January. Although my mom raised three other children, biologically I am the only child. My family has turned their backs to me and two of the other siblings stole things from my moms house, cleaned out her bank account, and didn’t even attempt to attend her funeral. They children made my mom’s life a living hell and kept her stressed out. I can’t even look at them as my siblings even though my mom never made a difference between us. I am beyond hurt and not even had the proper time to grieve her death. I have had to decide on taking her off the ventilator, make funeralarrangements, clean her house out and take care of financial obligations alone. Dealing with this has placed a strain on my relationship of eight years. My boyfriend doesn’t understand the feelings that I am experiencing and has threatened to leave me because he can’t deal with chias that is surrounding me. The thought of loosing my family at this time brings on a whole new hurt and I am trying to stay strong for my baby. I am lost and don’t know what to do because my mom would be the one I would call for help dealing with this matter and I don’t have her. Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated.
Only1Lost - 6-Feb-18 @ 10:34 PM
Hello. I am 30 years old, just had my first child 4 months ago and lost my mom the beginning of January. Although my mom raised three other children, biologically I am the only child. My family has turned their backs to me and two of the other siblings stole things from my moms house, cleaned out her bank account, and didn’t even attempt to attend her funeral. They children made my mom’s life a living hell and kept her stressed out. I can’t even look at them as my siblings even though my mom never made a difference between us. I am beyond hurt and not even had the proper time to grieve her death. I have had to decide on taking her off the ventilator, make funeralarrangements, clean her house out and take care of financial obligations alone. Dealing with this has placed a strain on my relationship of eight years. My boyfriend doesn’t understand the feelings that I am experiencing and has threatened to leave me because he can’t deal with chias that is surrounding me. The thought of loosing my family at this time brings on a whole new hurt and I am trying to stay strong for my baby. I am lost and don’t know what to do because my mom would be the one I would call for help dealing with this matter and I don’t have her. Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated.
Only1Lost - 6-Feb-18 @ 10:24 PM
shaz - Your Question:
My daughter passed away aged 39 years I am struggling I'm depressed suicidal and I've self harmedI found her dead on her kitchen floor with her face smashed in , she was stiff and smelt of rotten meatI cannot get the image out of my head , I've been asking for help now for 4 months but it doesn't happen I don't know what to do any more I just want to give up

Our Response:
Who have you been asking for help? Has your GP referred you for counselling etc? If not try asking again. Alternatively, contact bereavement support groups in your area, or try organisations like CRUSE or Child Bereavement UK
FacingBereavement - 5-Feb-18 @ 2:17 PM
M y daughter passed away aged 39 years I am struggling I'm depressed suicidal and I've self harmed I found her dead on her kitchen floor with her face smashed in , she was stiff and smelt of rotten meat I cannot get the image out of my head , I've been asking for help now for 4 months but it doesn't happen I don't know what to do any more I just want to give up
shaz - 2-Feb-18 @ 8:55 PM
Hello, I met my girlfriend 5.5 years ago, I had met her 7 days after her mom had died from a wreck, then recently November 2017, her dad passed away from liver failure. As her partner the last 6 months have been hard and has only turned worse, we have been going to couples counseling and have found this intense feeling of Nger(me) and her running around recklessly getting drunk and not coming home. I was ready to leave her, so tired of hurting... but we went on a cruise and for some reason I stoped this hurt/anger and she didn't act out recklessly. It's like we both valued each other, loved each other. I know that there's much to do now we are back home, I hope to god she sees a bereavement counselor, and maybe do couples counseling every other week. But to those supporting some one of grief I found taking off for a week together helped put some glue back on the relationship. Btw her.mom was killed when she was 24 and her dad passed being 29 years old. Please pray for us. Thank you
The struggle - 22-Jan-18 @ 11:31 AM
Lou, reading your comment was like reading what my heart is saying. My boyfriend (aged 44) has just lost his mum and I feel exactly the same. The thought of losing him makes me feel sick and I feel terrible for feeling this way when he is grieving. I lost my mum many years ago and I too pushed people away and even separated from my boyfriend at the time but I was only 23. I've been there for him but he's gone..and it's killing me. Everything's changedo and it's totally out of our control.
CorrieB - 17-Jan-18 @ 11:04 PM
My Boyfriend of one year has just lost his mum and is obviously devastated. He is 55 and the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have lost him as he is grieving, and wants to spend all his time with his family. He is continuing to work and play music in the bands he’s in, and although he is trying to not push me away, it seems really hard for him to be with me. Please, please, any advice on how I can help him, and not loose him for ever. I’m grieving for our relationship and what we had, but all alone as I don’t want to put any more pressure or worry on him. I know things will never be the same again, he will never be the same again. I’m in relationship limbo and it’s crushing me daily, I know this could go on for some time. How do I keep sane, so that I can be there if he needs me.
Lou - 17-Jan-18 @ 10:07 AM
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