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.

9 thoughts on “The Narcissist and Grief

  1. Oracle says:

    Thank you for writing this. I am sure i am not the only to thank you. As some have noticed, I am blunt, and i can offend easily. It wasn’t always that way. People described me as sweet. Not any longer. You have shown me how to escape but getting the courage is a horse of a different color. I went from being a very independent women who had worked my way up the corporate ladder, confident, happy, to dependant completely, severely depressed, insecure, angry. I’m the shadow of who i was. My 17 yr killed himself and that was the beginnig of my decline. He mirrored me and still does but it is used to confuse me. He whittled away a little at a time until i became this. Reading this helped me identify what happened, that it happened, and i can now grieve it put it behind me, and get on with it. Thank you.

  2. Caron says:

    I told my narc when he left that I wasn’t finished yet. He asked with what. I said, “Growing.”

    Being with one of you is like being put into a crucible. My ULN wanted me to be able to do everything he could do. Sometimes I would exasperatedly remind him that I’m a girl, not a guy. But trying to please him I bloomed. It’s what I wanted. He was crazy. He taught me warfare tactics, how to split logs, how to hook up a trailer (by leaving and making me do it by myself), how to hide, how to make a fire, how to gallop on my horse, how to be fearless and work hard, how to be open minded and just open, and how to not ask permission… the abuse was horrid, and I have no defense against it. It’s weird. But today I hooked up my horse trailer and took the horses into town to ride with normal guy’s daughter, and I brought them back and backed up my trailer. Before ULN I would never have done this. Now I’m doing it because he left and I have to, but I am still doing it. I grew.

    Just because he bailed doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep growing. The grief was terrible. Not sure it is done yet, and I still miss him and who I thought he was, but I’m not going to let it stop me. He chrystalized things for me, for the direction I want to go in. He broke me out of ruts I didn’t know I was in. I survived the abuse and the grief to continue to grow.

    In the terminator 2 film, there is a scene in the steel mill where the Arnold punches the t1000 in the face, and the t1000 morphs his body around until he is holding arnold’s fist. In life you must be that flexible.

    This weekend I finally started to realize what a relief it is not to be in those dysfunctional patterns anymore.

    1. NarcAngel says:

      I think that’s a good way to look at your situation. You may not have thought that you needed to grow and wouldn’t have chosen that path to do it, but you learned things about yourself that you are using to your benefit moving forward and most importantly – you recognize it. Grow you did indeed.

      1. Caron says:

        NarcAngel, I would definitely not have chosen to learn all of this with an abusive ULN. Or I would have chosen him to overcome it and stay with me, because really, the magic wasn’t all just from him. We were very blessed together. He’s nuts, though.

        He would start a million projects and never finish anything. He always worked really hard, but he would get frustrated if he made a mistake and quit and start getting mad at me for it. I drew the line at mixing concrete to finish one of his projects. I can’t even lift a bag of concrete, and I have a full time job and most of the animal care, too, and he wanted me to go out and mix concrete and finish the walk he started. That would be a NO from me! But you don’t say no to a narc. That is treachery. He would run, run, run and then crash and be unable to move for days. I have no idea where he found the time or energy to add 4 to his body count while we were together.

        I have my crazy moments, but I am not burdened with any cluster b disorders. Whenever and wherever possible I did whatever he wanted, set my wingtip to his and flew with him, even though all the crazy. His childhood dreams came true with me, and he was able to live out all of his quirks that most people would think are nuts. He still treated me and our marriage like a toilet.

        Is it because of the lying? The pretending they do, from the outset, claiming to feel things they don’t, hiding the secrets of their darker activities and thoughts–it must make them think the relationship will never last anyway because it was begun and commences under deliberate deception. So why would they honor it, or even try? Because of their lies and manipulations at the outset, they know they have already lost, so why even make an effort on someone they KNOW will go away?

        My ULN had to lie heavily to get his current job. I wonder how he will sabotage that since the deception must convince him he doesn’t really belong and won’t ever.

        How awful to have a condition that causes you to destroy everything you have. That guarantees you will be abandoned while abandonment is your absolute worst fear.

        1. Pale Horse says:

          My NEX would often say our relationship was built on a lie. She would never elaborate and I sometimes believed it was something I said or did in the beginning. But now I know the truth…

  3. Dearest HG. Those 3 stages of grief: Thankfully, some of us are destined to learn a lot from this. I am glad to find this community. I was near death. I gave more than the Narc even requested. I flung myself at him for him to save me, so to speak. I can not rewind all that I did, but I have a shot at a life, now. I do not know what that life will look like. And, I may have to change fields. Or, develope another field on the side and see where it goes. So be it.

    1. Pale Horse says:

      Glad you found this community as well!

  4. YES! Perfectly expressing what I could not put into words for myself. I am not crazy.

  5. J.G THE ONE says:

    Hello, H.G.Tudor.
    Yes, I agree with this post. Well, a relationship with a narcissist leaves you exhausted. Well it’s true that you feel terrible and your thoughts spin and spin thinking.
    Why? What happened? And all those other questions. You don’t find a rational answer. Everything seemed so fantastic etc. And in the end everything went out of control. Control that never, tube in his hands.
    This really happens because the victim can not make the closure. Many of the pieces of the narcissistic puzzle are missing.
    When, the victim reads his post, books, comments, explanations these pieces of the puzzle with quickly placed in each of their places. And the victim finally sees the exact picture of what happened in his life.
    Not the distorted image that the narcissist with so much hard work and perseverance dedicated himself to creating. When this happens, the pain disappears and with it the three sources of pain.

    1 because you understand that you were manipulated to believe that he was real.
    2 because you understand that there were never possibilities, because with them nothing is possible.

    I have to say regarding self-esteem, that on this point I do not agree with you. The victim’s self-esteem is touched and damaged in part by a narcissist, and this is true. It is never lost, it just goes to sleep. It is simply numbed, because when you discover that everything was just manipulation, it grows back like the weed. That’s the good thing about self-esteem, the narcissist no matter how much he wants can never tear it off just cut it. But when the narcissist stops acting on it with his manipulations is like a lawn which they stop caring and maintaining, this lawn grows and grows every day more.
    In my specific case, I have experienced it.
    The really important thing for the victim, is that it can make the closure, without closure the victim will remain on the wheel, like monkeys, turning endlessly.

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