Jealousy During Grief Is a Normal Reaction
Believe it or not, jealousy during grief is a normal reaction. Many of us have grieved over the loss of a close friend or relative. After such a loss, we do not always know what to think. It is normal to be in denial for awhile and then just out of the blue feel extremely bitter. In fact, we can feel so lonely that we might even feel jealous of everyone who still has their best friend or relative. After losing my father, jealousy, a normal reaction, has been a big part of my grieving process.
When I was 17, my father passed away unexpectedly. It was spring break of my junior year of high school—just one year away from graduation. When I heard the news, I broke down. He was my best friend, the one man who helped me go down the right path and encouraged me to always pursue my dreams. My heart stung like nothing I had ever felt before.
My Experience of Jealousy During Grief Began Almost Right Away
After the tragedy, I could not look at fathers with their children. When I was working at an amusement park on Father’s Day, I saw a father trying to win a prize for his children. I thought, “My dad should be here to win a prize for me. This is so unfair.”
In fact, it was even worse when an adult told me about her 80-year-old father who was helping her find a job. I thought, “I am 23 years old and looking for a job on my own. I wish I could just talk to my dad about interviews and careers. Why does this woman who is in her 40s get help from her dad when I can't get help from mine?"
Nine years since my father’s death, I still get so jealous. Social media does not help at all. My friends have wedding photos with their fathers. My father won’t be here to walk me down the aisle. My friends’ fathers had the chance to meet their grandchildren. My father will not be here to see my future children. I wish I could just go back in time, change things, and have what my friends have.
Will This Feeling of Jealousy During Grief Ever End?
If you can relate to my feeling of jealousy during grief, you might feel like it will never end. I sure do, and I feel very guilty about it because it sounds so selfish. How can I be this bitter and jealous when I was so blessed to have had an amazing father for 17 years? There are people who have not even had their fathers for that long (Comparing Yourself to Others Can Complicate Coping).
But one thing I learned in the last nine years is that this feeling of jealousy is completely normal. Do I know if it will ever end? No. I am thinking that to some extent, it will always be there. It might appear during other people’s milestones. But maybe over time, I will see how blessed I am through my own milestones. Hopefully, my future husband will be as great as my dad was. Hopefully, his father will be like a father figure to me. Maybe then I will see the jealousy fade. If it comes back at the most random and inconvenient times, maybe it will be a little less painful.
To hear more about my story and how I deal with jealousy in grief, check out the video below. If you have any stories about loss and jealousy or other emotions that you have experienced, please share in the comments.
Photo courtesy of Marianne Lueck
Lueck, M. (2017, February 19). Jealousy During Grief Is a Normal Reaction, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, November 28 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/toughtimes/2017/02/jealousy-after-a-loss-is-perfectly-normal
Author: Martha Lueck
I lost someone close to me in June of this year. He loved working with special needs individuals. I saw him as a friend more than just my hab coordinator. When he unexpectedly passed, I broke down. It's getting close to four months since then, and lately, I feel jealous of both my friend and my cousin who are experiencing happiness while I have lost mine. For context, my friend is in a relationship and my cousin is expecting a baby. I felt that they get to experience the happiness while I have to struggle with the fact that my happiness went with the person I lost. I've been avoiding talking to them about their recent good news as this would make me upset that I have to continue with grieving the loss of someone who makes me happy. Any advice on how to tell them I feel jealous?
My deepest condolences for your loss. It’s really hard to lose a friend or a kind coworker unexpectedly. When we’re grieving, it can feel like there is no joy for us. Life can feel very unfair. Your feelings are valid.
One thing to remember is that if your friend and cousin genuinely care about you (and I’m sure they do), they will respect your feelings. They might not understand them, but communicating with them might help them build empathy.
I personally find that writing helps with difficult conversations. This way, you can think about what you want to say. You can write a letter, but you don’t have to send it right away (or at all if it makes you uncomfortable). Or if you have a therapist and/or a trusted friend, you can do a role play exercise. That way, you can say what you want and then get feedback.
Take your time starting the conversation. Schedule it for a day when you don’t have anything else going on. I hope those suggestions help you. I wish you the best.
This is super helpful. Thank you for sharing.
You’re welcome! I’m glad that you found this to be helpful.
It’s been 7 years since my mom unexpectedly passed. I can relate to you. Today was Easter service at church and all the families are dressed up looking all cute together. A mother, a father, and their beautiful children. A huge part of me is very jealous. I want that. I feel icky about being jealous and even a bit upset with myself. I have always wondered if this was going to go away or just something I had to live with. As much as I want this to go away, I needed to hear it. So, I guess what I am trying to say is, THANK YOU. Thank you for saying it out loud and sharing this. Thank you so much!
I'm glad this post helped you! Holidays are often difficult, as we are reminded of what we do not have. On Easter, I felt a little bit of jealousy as well. However, I have been feeling it less over the years. Your feelings are valid.
Thank you for sharing your story.
You're welcome! :)