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How Grief Affects Your Relationships

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 2 Dec 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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My sister in law took her life in late May and my wife has been having a very hard time obviously. It has put a strain on our marriage. I listen to my wife vent and cry when she needs to get feelings out. She doesnt believe she has the time for professional help and I am concerned. She thinks writing her feelings out on the computer will help along with talking to a friend of her sister. Is there any advice besides being there and giving space?
Mike - 24-Nov-19 @ 1:45 AM
Magi,I lost my brother 3 years ago.he was my most cherished person..we were only 3 yrs apart and as adults lived with each other and traveled far and wide to hang out..he was my best freind.he was 34 and died from drowning..was sudden...he had a girlfriend for 5 years...they built a life together..he was distant because he was learning to live life like we all do...when he died I had to go to california to make funeral arrangments..I kept thinking about him being in the other room on a cold slab to.....its wrenching to the core.....I had to make decisions to creamate him...my mother was shattered.i was shattered...I was so annnnggrrryyyy....I had anger for everyone I hated everything about it...I reacted with anger and so did others...3 1/2 years later I still feel the pain i do see how my emotions were extreme because i was traumatized....i feel you sister....love to you and your journey...you are definatly not alone.
Jezzy - 23-Nov-19 @ 9:10 PM
Hello My brother passed away very suddenly on the 17th of August ,to date he has yet to be laid to rest .I feel i cannot move forward until then ,the long wait has left me feeling feelings I've never experienced and i don't know how to process them ,so they keep going round and round in my head .WE were very close in age and grew up doing everything together ,when we became adults we moved away to make or way in life ,this during a time of no social media or mobile phones ,but we kept a very strong bond until he met his new wife of 6 years ,she isolated him and we very rarely got to see him ,the reason for that was to protect her mental health as she found it hard to come in contact with anyone who came before her ,.I don't know what kind of mental health illness that is ,but in my mind it's cruel . The whole family , aunts uncles cousins etc has been blocked from asking anything regarding his funeral and if we do she will get the police to us ..for what ? she has during the time of his death sold the house and moved away ,we are at our wits end ,the anger inside me is scary but the feeling of helplessness is worse . Under data protection act we can't even speak to her ,she doesn't need to tell us anything ,the worse part for me is knowing my brother lies in a cold dark lonely mortuary slab,no dignity ,respect has been offered to my brother ,he was a very successful man,a father grandfather ,brother ,son ,cousin ,he was so much and now hers just been left to rot while she gets her life in order ,I can't put into words exactly how I ffeeland don't know where to turn for help .
Maggie - 14-Oct-19 @ 11:15 AM
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WillyVera - 27-Aug-19 @ 12:18 PM
I lost it acts of 20 years and he abused me financially physically and mentally through in a relationship and it continued to spiral what you were saying for situations one day in July of 2018 I finally had the police come and get him as he was trying to crawl under my garage door because he was drunk and obsessed with wondering who I was with and I was just trying to exit the relationship of 20 years. After that he did do a long stint afraid once in jail in and out of mental hospitals suicide watch and he was finally sober and we started to try to cultivate a friendship which was happening he was my best friend we had many good times but they were always peppers with the alcoholism and he died on December 5th and struck by a car and he was sober and I had just talked to him and he was on the border of harassing me asking when I was going to pick him up the next day to go see our son. He died that night right after we talked andI informed him that he can't keep calling me like he is and I am in a relationshipbut I wanted to keep it in my life as a friend and get him set up to where he needed to be and he was doing so good he was early in his sobriety and I've never seen him like that in twenty years and it was so happy for him I just wanted to get him moved on and he still thought we were going to get back together which we weren't and he was clear on that but I for some reason thought that I would be helping him by staying connected for our son and helping him through his sobriety and then he suddenly died I was not invited at the funeral or the hospital when I found out he was in intensive care and I have terrible terrible issues with the closure on this as families trying to make it sound like I am the reason why he died and I am just torn and nobody came to see me. Any of our friends my son did speak at the funeral and everyone asked him where I was.we had been broken up but I saw him pretty much once a week and talked to him three times a week still in my mind strictly as friends. All of us while cultivating a new relationship. I am so confused i igrief what to think what to do where to go how to act who to talk to some people have reached out to me but I'm so closed off I can't even begin to talk about it I can't go on Facebook I can't even see anything about anybody commenting on him because it's too real. It's been since December and I have lost three other friends since then my sister both of my animals and am financially devastated due to the abuse.he was also in the process of trying to make amends as far as paying me back money for all of the damage he done. I'm in shock still and I am confused as if he killed himself or if it was an accident and nobody will talk to me about anything.
Krissy - 10-Aug-19 @ 9:54 AM
My sister was murdered 4 months ago. I’m not sure what grieving process I’m going through tbh. My partner was so supportive for the first month, up until the funeral. After that, I felt like he wasn’t there for me at all. He found a new full time job and gave all his time to that, saying I could only see him during certain hours of the day and if I needed him any more than that then it’d have to wait. He did try to see me but I didn’t want to see him because it could only be at an allotted time? Maybe that’s petty but I wanted to feel like he was there for me no matter where, what time and why. Three months along the line, we haven’t spoken at all for about 2 weeks and haven’t seen in each other in well over 1 month. Maybe it is the grief ruining our relationship. I keep blaming it all on him saying that he hasn’t been there, which he absolutely hasn’t, but should I be forcing him for support when I need it during this insufferable time? Am I being too needy? My sister died only 4 months ago yet no one ever texts to see how I’m doing, especially not him. Sorry, this was more of a rant than anything but please feel free to leave opinions or advice. I’ve been with the guy 3 and a half years. He knew my sister and that’s what hurts me the most about how unbothered he’s being.
lucxyz - 8-Jul-19 @ 4:32 AM
My sister was murdered 4 months ago. I’m not sure what grieving process I’m going through tbh. My partner was so supportive for the first month, up until the funeral. After that, I felt like he wasn’t there for me at all. He found a new full time job and gave all his time to that, saying I could only see him during certain hours of the day and if I needed him any more than that then it’d have to wait. He did try to see me but I didn’t want to see him because it could only be at an allotted time? Maybe that’s petty but I wanted to feel like he was there for me no matter where, what time and why. Three months along the line, we haven’t spoken at all for about 2 weeks and haven’t seen in each other in well over 1 month. Maybe it is the grief ruining our relationship. I keep blaming it all on him saying that he hasn’t been there, which he absolutely hasn’t, but should I be forcing him for support when I need it during this insufferable time? Am I being too needy? My sister died only 4 months ago yet no one ever texts to see how I’m doing, especially not him. Sorry, this was more of a rant than anything but please feel free to leave opinions or advice. I’ve been with the guy 3 and a half years. He knew my sister and that’s what hurts me the most about how unbothered he’s being.
lucxyz - 8-Jul-19 @ 4:31 AM
I'm going through the grief of losing my partner of 14years so suddenly of cancer, he had a terrible cold and was left with a cough which lasted weeks, went for tests and biopsies, in and out of hospital and eventually we got the results which was terminal in five different places it had spread so quickly they gave him 2 to 3 months to live, he died a week later, it was so shocking and devastating,never had anytime to spend together! That was a year and 4months Christmas time, I have met someone new, but I'm in conflict with my emotions! I'm still grieving for my partner, but have happy ones with my new partner, but cant cope anymore, what should I do, his a great guy, but inside I have a lot of sadness too! Help.x
Droopy drawers - 3-Jul-19 @ 10:34 PM
what the hey,my love,my life is gone. the whole world can rot as far as i'm concerned.
eatmeanddie - 15-Jun-19 @ 2:44 AM
My partner(24y) 's dad died of heart attack. After death she Didn't called me even she Didn't received may phone calls. After 5 hours she called me and informed me then i rushed out to her and see a guy from her class who proposed her before me and a major problem in our relationship was there and he was informed by her while her father died. We are in a relation about 1.5 years and after Graduation we are going to get married. And for this guy we broke up several times. I feel left out and very stupid. What should i do. This is affecting my mental health also i can feel that.
KK - 27-May-19 @ 6:39 PM
I've just read this article following the death of my father 5 weeks ago. It was sudden and unexpected. Since then I've been very busy planning the funeral etc, which happened yesterday but today I've had nothing to plan, nothing to focus on. I've been thinking about things and realised I've started to push my partner of 4 years away. I feel angry that he can't provide me with the support I need. But ultimately he is grieving too and doing his best to help me. After reading the comments here I just hope everyone has got some help, I hope the website has replied to you all and you are getting the support you need. We all have long journeys of grief ahead of us and I hope we are able to find some strength to get through.
Nrl - 25-May-19 @ 9:25 PM
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
I don’t need new credit. I am 73 years old, and have assets. However, I do pay auto and home insurance each year and not having my home and auto scores maxed-out affects what I pay for home and auto insurance each year. Probably costs me several hundred dollars for my private residence and rentals. I repeat, the credit rating agencies have more power over your financial life than you can imagine, and they report to no one. Not one government agency will get involved in the algorithms used by rating agencies. It’s their call. Not even the new Consumer Protection Agency will touch this subject. I know. I tried to get them involved but got disappointed..As usual no response..I was able to put a full stop to through the help of a young man called CREDITLORD and now my scores are what I want it to be..He’s honest and very intelligent..The way he worked it all out I have no idea but he did..You should contact him today he will help change your life CREDITLORD@MAIL.RU
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
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  • Edy
    Re: The Rights to Obtain a Headstone?
    My brother paased away 2 years ago and his live in girlfriend handled the funeral. She never paid for the funeral or the…
    14 November 2019
  • Suzi
    Re: Questionnaire: Do You Need Bereavement Counselling?
    My father has only recently passed away. I did get the chance to see him before, but for the last 3…
    9 November 2019