The Narcissist and Grief



Grief. You may think that this is an alien concept to our kind. It is and it is not. On the one hand we do not feel grief but we do understand what it is and what it engenders in other people especially those who are empathic in nature and who have been entangled with us. We have watched with an almost child-like curiosity when you have received news about the passing away of a relative. If this happened during the golden period, you at least received some false empathy in the shape of some fabricated support and understanding to make it look as if we at least cared in some way. If your pet died during the devaluation, a long-loved pet, then we will have watched your display of sadness, longing and grief with contempt and jealousy. We would not have supported you but instead said something to provoke you such as,

“I don’t know why you are so upset, it’s just a dog.”

So that you focused on us again rather than wallow in your own grief. We have witnessed grief in others, observed and learnt how it is displayed. We have listened (when it served a purpose for us) during the golden period as to how it makes you feel and stored all of this information away. We do not feel grief. We may exhibit is for the sake of appearances if this will garner fuel for us and to preserve the façade, but it is never felt. You however experience grief in an intense fashion, given your capacity to feel and to empathise. We have seen your grief over a deceased relative, a friend taken suddenly and violently in a car crash, the celebrity who you adored who has passed away after a long battle against illness. We know just how capable you are of grief and we know that not only does it have the potential to be a potent source of fuel but we recognise its paralytic effect on you. Grief takes a hold and has the capacity to prevent you from functioning effectively. Not only that, its paralysis is such that it can prevent you from escaping this state of grief, keeping you locked-in a grieving mode, unable to move forward. Grief is an intense emotion. We have seen this. From the wailing cries of a parent being told that their child’s body has been found after they have disappeared to the dignified grief of a war veteran stood in silence with a single tear trickling down his or her cheek as they pay tribute to their fallen comrades. Whether noise or silence accompanies this grief it remains a powerful emotion and naturally one that our kind is keen to draw on for the purposes of extracting fuel. We see grief as serving two functions. Keeping you in a state of paralysis and therefore it follows that you will keep pumping out potent negative fuel for us to extract.

Now, I am not suggesting that I will embark on some kind of killing spree slaughtering your pets, taking down your favourite celebrities and murdering your friends and family, in order to create this repeated state of grief. Whilst one might see certain attractions in doing so, the effort involved and moreover the considerable downsides to such a course of action mean that it is not one that we would embark on. No, instead there is an alternative way of looking to create an enduring state of grief on your part. We want you to grieve for us.

This does not involve us taking our own lives. We rarely commit such an act. We will threaten it, certainly, as part of a hoover, but we regard the world as needing us and therefore we will extremely rarely commit suicide. We will however cause you to grieve for us and we do this when we eventually disengage you after a harsh devaluation. When this disengagement takes place we will leave you with three losses over which you will grieve. Your grief will be prolonged because there are three losses and thus this maximises not only the prospect of paralysis but also a longer period of the provision of potent fuel.

The first loss is the loss of who you thought we were. You were seduced and swept off your feet by this charming individual who mirrored everything you liked and disliked. We ticked all the boxes, we professed to be your soulmate, we gave you a perfect love, made every day special and had you excited to see us and hear from us. We created such a wonderful start to the relationship, unlike anything that you had experienced before. We understood you, we cared, we showed you such passion, we listened and engaged in those things which you always wanted to share with someone else. We wrapped ourselves around you, permeated your very core and entwined our lives so that you were never happier and you could never comprehend a time when such delicious rapture would end. But it did and how.

The loss of something so brilliant and splendid hurts you and feels like you have suffered a bereavement so intense and painful is the experience. Even though you hear the words that it was an illusion, that none of it was real and that you need to let go, it is still so hard to accept all of that and you miss us. Oh how you miss us. You miss that wonderful person we were at the beginning and you want that person back. No matter how many times you are told that he or she was just a creation, that it was an illusion designed to fool you and that we never loved you and never meant or felt anything we said to you, it is still incredibly hard to accept. Just like someone who cannot accept that someone who has died will not walk through the door at any minute, you cannot accept for a considerable time that the person you thought we were has gone. We know what you will be thinking (because we have caused you to think and feel this way) and although we may not always see your grief-ridden response to our absence we know what you will be thinking and feeling and this fuels us. Even greater is the fuel from your messages telling us you miss us, that you want the “old me” back and begging for another chance. Your grief for loss of the person that you thought we were, is both huge and prolonged.

The second loss that you sustain and grieve for is the loss of the potential that we showed to you. There was no doubting that we were brilliant at our job. You saw the plaudits and you felt the benefit, for a time, of the accompanying pay cheque. You saw the trophies amassed for our various achievements in different fields and you heard other people speak so highly of our accomplishments. The compassion, kindness and love that we showed to you and to others (although false) still causes you to think that somewhere we are truly capable of this goodness, if only we would harness it and let it be free. You have witnessed two things. The reality of our drive to be the best and the accompanying good that such drive and ambition brings – a surgeon saving lives, a scientist inventing cures, an entrepreneur creating wealth and jobs, a policeman making the neighbourhood safer, a teacher educating so many people to a high degree – means that our rampant desire to be the best has the considerable potential to actually do good for others. You also saw something in terms of the way that we treated you and as an empathic individual you still believe that this goodness can be freed and used to both our benefits so that we are both happy together. You came to regard us as a wounded and hurt person and in conjunction with your innate desire to heal and fix, you felt that if you could heal us then the mutual benefits would be amazing. There was so much potential waiting to be unlocked and utilised and now with our departure and your discard, that potential has been lost. You grieve this loss of opportunity and how things might have turned out oh so different. You want to turn back the clock, do things differently and the inability to do so causes you considerable grief and pain.

The third area of grief which you sustain from coupling with us is not grieving over us, but it stems from being with us and that is grieving the loss of your identity. Before we came along you were happy, independent, strong, bright, well-liked by family, friends and colleagues. You had many interests and you enjoyed life. Yes, there were flaws and vulnerabilities but you handled them as best you could as you forged a path through life knowing who you were. Then we came along.

We subsumed you into us. We eradicated your characteristics as we either stole them for our own construct to show the world or we eroded them through the steady application of our vicious manipulations. Your confidence evaporated, your self-esteem disappeared and your self-worth plummeted. You became steadily isolated, losing friends, neglecting your interests and even become distant with family. You allowed yourself to be fully consumed by us. It was entirely understandable how this happened because we wanted it to happen and we acted in a manner to cause it to happen, but nevertheless your loss of identity was a steady and insidious consequence of the grip we held over you. Now, as you sit alone, ruminating on what once was, grieving the loss of who you thought we were, the loss of the potential, you are also hit by the loss of who you were. You no longer recognise that face which stares emptily at you in the mirror each morning. The world is grey and drab, music sounds harsh and grating, conversations irritate and make you fearful, even your favourite foods taste like ash in your mouth. You have lost yourself and the sense of foolishness from allowing this to happen and the grief arising from such a loss is substantial.

This triumvirate of grief arising from entangling with us provides us with substantial fuel and we know that burdened by not just one or two, but three forms of grief, it will take you a long time, if ever, to escape the effects.

24 thoughts on “The Narcissist and Grief

  1. Bubbles 🍾 says:

    Dear Mr Tudor,
    My little weasel luvved funerals because he was always asked to give a speech …. camera light action and then the out pouring of accolades that followed after.
    When his dad died … not a tear was felt or fallen. He didn’t even tell me, in fact, it wasn’t until I contacted him, that he then told me and ….. “when all through the house, not one emotion was stirring, not even a mouse” …. zero, nothing, empty… continued on like nothing happened …. however he luvved all the sympathy from all n sundry, absolutely basked in it.
    I have never grieved over the weasel. I was so angry. I was angry at him lying and abusing my friendship and kindness, but more so by my blindsidedness.
    Having come across your work, I’m not so angry with myself anymore. Thank you for the 3 areas of explanation …. it helps incredibly upon reflection

  2. Jenna says:

    I have not felt the grief for about 2 weeks now, nor the love. I wanted to feel the love. I listened to a song and cried my eyes out, my face drenched in tears. I imagined him walking through the door with that arrogant walk of his. The words to the song matched closely with my feelings. And then, i could not take it anymore. So i imagined hg walking through the door, shoving the midranger away, and smiling at me standing there, reminding me that he and the readers here want the best outcome for me. I paired the words of the song to hg’s lessons i learn here. It worked!

    1. narc affair says:

      Congrats on being narc free jenna! 🤗

  3. WhoCares says:

    Fear of *not knowing…of course.

  4. WhoCares says:

    HG – your cognitive empathy is amazing. This article certainly attests to that.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I have spent a long time honing it. Thank you.

  5. WhoCares says:

    Narc affair – what you wrote struck me as I’m post formal relationship but have loose ends to resolve. I wish I could completely embrace the new me. I know that I’m a completely different person now that I have confronted not only the illusions of the relationship but a lot of cultural/societal beliefs that created obstacles to making the final break. Those beliefs still hold some grip on me but I’m better equipped to challenge them. Now I realize that my childhood also was significantly deluded (and I thought it was only slightly disfunctional)…in all of this I ask myself; where’s the real me?
    I look back at things I wrote pre-entanglement and during the formal relationship and I don’t fully recognize the ‘me’ at that time. When I read those past words I don’t want my narc back but I am sometimes nostalgic for the ‘who’ I was then. But now that I see so much clearer there is no going back (no pulling the wool over my own eyes anymore) only forward movement – despite the fear of knowing what the future looks like or who I’ll continue to become.

    This is partly how they hold on to us, of course, too – because of fear of the unknown.

    And then when you finally let go; grief of what was (who we were) is only appropriate and natural…to empaths, that is.

  6. Catherine says:

    I truly love this article HG. It accurately describes the process of losing love, faith, hope and being thrown into a state of utter despair and grief by being completely deceived in so many ways. During these past seven months I’ve been through so many stages of disbelief, grief, longing, anger, fury, hatred, sadness and emptiness and I’ve built my fortress stone by stone by omitting my emotional thinking, replacing it slowly with logic, forcing myself to remember the pain he inflicted on me time and time again when I’ve felt myself slipping into that longing that feels so familiar; like a clear blue sea a fine summer day until you’re totally immersed and suddenly drowning in it. I’m not done with my grief yet, but I’m feeling so much stronger now. And I’m at the stage where I’m grieving the loss of myself much more than the loss of the person I thought him to be or the lost potential in who I thought we could be together. It’s painful and frightening to immerse yourself so vehemently into another human being that you’re not sure where he begins and you end; being left and spent like an empty shell; not knowing who you were before or how to find your way back again. It’s like narc affair wrote; you have to invent yourself again from the beginning almost; become new again. Still, I know I’m here, I’ll never be extinguished, I’ve just hidden well and I’m starting to feel the familiar surge of feelings resurfacing a little at a time now. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the things I miss most of all about myself is my joy, my easygoing nature, my laughter and my playfulness; my innocence most of all. I drowned in sorrow with him; I need to soar again and I most definitely will. Anything else is not an option for me.

    1. Mary says:

      Catherine – you have said, so eloquently, exactly how I am feeling. We lost something precious because of the entanglement with the narcissist. I have to believe that there is a valuable lesson to be learned and that we will be stronger, wiser, and even kinder, because of our experience.

      1. Catherine says:

        Thank you Mary! I believe so too. We will come out of this stronger and with more self awareness than before; I think we’re all committed to let this experience at least teach us something valuable about ourselves and let that lesson become a beacon in the night when it comes to avoiding further entanglement with personality disordered individuals. That’s why we’re all here. To gain knowledge and to steer clear of abuse in the future. The cost is that loss of innocence though. To have been close to some sort of evil leaves scars. I do hope they will fade away with time.

  7. Robyn says:

    But what happens when you finally overcome this grief? Move in with a new love and start living and enjoying life again? Does the narcissist feel grief over losing you? Will they rage? Feel envy? Or do they just not care that they have been replaced?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Not grief. If you have escaped us – see How No Contact Feels for the initial aftermath.

      1. Lori says:

        Not grief. Anger and wounding right HG?

  8. Mary says:

    This could not be more accurate. It is possibly the worst grief that I have ever endured. I just don’t know how to move forward.

    1. MB says:

      Hang in there Mary. There will be good days and bad days. As hard as it is, do your best to think about something else. Anything else but the Narc. And listen to HG, read HG and most of all heed HG. He’s the best at getting you through. Why? was my biggest question and he gives you all the answers. You will achieve closure but it’s going to be a process. Sending healing thoughts to ya girl!

      1. Mary says:

        Thank you, MB, for the encouraging words. I think I have FINALLY accepted the truth of the situation. That took some time. Now, I am hurt, angry, sad – you know the drill. It certainly is one day at a time. Today has been better than yesterday!

  9. narc affair says:

    I think theres another purpose for grief too and thats as a porthole for the narcissist. When they sniff out someone grieving over a loss they smell vulnerability and thats their ticket to ensnare a potential victim.

    I would say the last loss is the one im experiencing the most which is loss of identity. Ive poured myself into this narcissist.
    Lately ive been paying close attention to how ive become subsumed into him and im seeing what i always took as an interest in my past as a tactic to insert himself into my past memories. Like a form of mind altering.
    He likes to talk a lot about my past the places i lived, worked, memories from years ago and then he will put a spin on it and introduce a fantasy of sorts how it wouldve been if wed known each other back then. The memories slowly become injected with him. Another tactic of ever presence. All of this has led to a loss of who i was before i met him. I honestly cant remember who i was. Its the oddest thing. If he walked away right now id be starting as a new person completely.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Indeed. Seeing someone who posts on social media about their loss of a relative and then does so at certain intervals with various memes lights up as a potential victim. If I attended funerals they would serve as a potential hunting ground also.

    2. MH says:

      Narc Affair, what are you waiting for? Are you still with him? Your comment made me so sad, like many of the comments I read here.

  10. Lori says:

    HG, you speak of awareness in the greater but would an upper lesser be aware that he has inflicted this grief on you on purpose. Obviously, an upper lesser would notice that his relationships with ipss ‘s (since he has an anchor ipps) all turn out the same. To what extent do they know how it’s all gonna go? Mine seemed to allude to this early on even saying it probably won’t last let’s just enjoy what we have right now. So, do they just think they are unlucky souls in the love dept? I don’t believe mine to be a greater yet he seemed to have some clue about how his relationships go even told me he doesn’t really attach to people

    1. HG Tudor says:

      An Upper Lesser would not be aware and would certainly not care. He would recognise a pattern, when pointed out to him, he would not reflect on that pattern and arrive at that conclusion, but it would not trouble him, it is just the way it is.
      Where yours alluded to matters (I assume he is UL) someone must have pointed out his poor track record and he will have just shrugged it off. He mentioned to you that it would not last, not as a MR would (to draw some sympathy or a reassurance that it would last) but as a simple statement of fact but he doesn’t know precisely why and does not care, it is just the way “he rolls” and you can “ship up or ship out”.

      1. Lori says:

        Yep. he told me he looked for patterns. Some words he used a lot: pattern, whore, and accuse. He was always being “accused” I told him I had never heard that word so much in my life

        He told me he was often unable to express positive emotions but had no problem with negative ones and that he knew he didn’t attach to people. When I pointed out that these things are problematic he pretty much said oh well it works for me.

        Do this sound upper lesser ? I can only say that he does have anger issues and he is aware of them. When I read some of the stuff you said lessers say it was spot on but at the same time he seems to have some awareness that he is different from others.

      2. Lori says:

        yep this all makes sense

  11. Agnes says:

    What if during the golden period your IPPS worries because her mother/father/someone important is seriously ill (eg. cancer). She worries and is stressed (visits in the hospital, looking for new doctors, new forms of therapy). My guess is you would try to help, show empathy, show that you take care od her when the worst comes. Isn’t it the opportunity to bind her more? But on the other hand I think the narc could be also angry and jaleous that his golden period with IPPS is interrupted? Maybe you would become bored and switch to devaluation?

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