My girlfriend is grieving over death of her ex-husband

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

My girlfriend is grieving over her ex-husband. It’s been a year and a half since his death, and she has grown very distant. It feels like she takes all her issues out on me. She is generally hateful to me, never shows me any attention, and list goes on and on. I seem to get the brunt of things. It seems like there is no hope for us. I don’t understand what she is going though. This problem has seemed to have snow balled since the anniversary of his death. Things for us are very complicated we live together and we both have children. She is the love of my life and I’m trying to hold on in hopes of this passing, but I don’t feel loved back. Can you help me in any way?

Thank you for your time,
John

A: This sounds very painful, John. It is good you took the time to write us.

Unresolved grieving can last a very long time and there can be many reasons why someone hasn’t moved on. It is too difficult to tell from what you’ve said if you are the scapegoat for these unresolved feelings, or simply the safest person she has to express them to. In either case the length of time warrants a change. I recommend three things.

First I would begin to set limits on what you tolerate of her behavior. Grieving doesn’t give someone the right to be continually hateful for as long as they wish. I encourage you to set a limit and to find some support for yourself as you learn to do this. The “find help “ tab at the top of this page will get you to someone in your area.

Secondly, try to get yourselves in front of a couples counselor so the issue can be mediated by a third party. Often the emotions during this time can be overwhelming for a couple to deal with on their own.

Finally, see if there are grief counselors and groups in your area. Typically a local funeral home or community hospital will have resources that are specialized and regularly available. Offer to go with your girlfriend so that both of you can learn about moving through this together.

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

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Jan 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). My girlfriend is grieving over death of her ex-husband. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/01/17/my-girlfriend-is-grieving-over-death-of-her-ex-husband/