I coined this phrase, stealing grief, after losing my sweet kitty, Vincent. Vincent had been my granddad’s cat, & a cousin took him after Granddad died. Several years later, she asked me to baby sit him while she moved, then said I could keep him. I was blessed to have him for just over 2 years when he passed away very suddenly & unexpectedly. Losing him was especially hard for me, not only because he was an awesome cat, but he had been Granddad’s best friend. I felt like I was losing a part of Granddad as well as losing Vincent. The combined loss was devastating.
I told my father about losing Vincent a day or so after his death. The following day, my mother called as I was not only grieving but in bed sick with the flu. She told me my father told her about Vincent. She also said how he was never happy with me- he was only happy with Granddad. He was miserable in my home, according to her. Between feeling very sick & grieving, I couldn’t even respond to what she said. I just cried. Her words hurt me to my core, even though I knew they weren’t true. For a while, I was so hurt, I focused on that instead of grieving Vincent. I felt my grief process had been stolen due to the hurt I felt from my mother’s hatefulness.
Prior to that incident, when losing cats, if my mother even acknowledged the loss, she told me that they were better off dead than with me as their mom or “oh well.. at least you don’t have any sick ones now.” Each time her callous & evil words interrupted my natural grief process, leaving me wounded & hurting even more than usual because of being oversensitive due to grief. I stopped telling my parents when we’ve lost furbabies because of this.
I realized that this was done purposely. My mother, in typical narcissistic fashion, likes to hurt me, & when I’m already hurting, she is capable of hurting me much more deeply than usual. She is opportunistic, kicking me when I’m down, as narcissists are.
I also realized that this isn’t simply another jab at me. It’s incredibly disrespectful to my furbabies, because she is distracting me from the natural course of grieving the loss of a wonderful creature.
I know that grief isn’t fun. In fact, it feels like hell on Earth when you’re going through it. However, it’s also necessary if you are to process the pain of losing someone you love in a healthy manner. It’s the price you pay for loving someone. It shouldn’t be interrupted! It should be allowed to run its course until you reach that place of acceptance that the one you love is gone, & you can begin to adapt to your new life without that person.
Interrupting grief drags the process out & makes it much harder than it already is. It adds to & prolongs your suffering, which is no doubt what the narcissist enjoys so much. Now your grief will take longer & be harder, plus she was able to dump more pain on you! YAY! Sick? Oh yea. But that’s how narcissists think.
I have learned the hard way that this has to stop. I can’t make my parents stop trying to steal my grief, but I can continue grieving in a healthy way in spite of them.
When we lost our 16 year old tabby cat with an attitude, Weeble on May 2, a few days later, my parents & I got into a big argument. I mentioned it in this post. It was extremely hurtful, even though I’d been expecting a fight, just not quite this exact one. In the heat of the fight, I told my father I couldn’t deal with this topic since I’d just lost Weeble. I ended up telling him 2 things about that- please don’t tell my mother because I don’t need to hear her nastiness & I also need time to myself to grieve. He disregarded this & called me non stop two days later, trying to bully me into answering the phone, because HE wanted to talk to me. My wishes meant nothing apparently. When I finally did talk to him, I told him again I need time to myself, leave me alone. This past Monday, my parents’ number showed up on my caller ID repeatedly. Again. UGH! Wednesday night, my mother called & my husband talked to her since I wasn’t up to it. Would be nice if they listened when I set boundaries.. sheesh.
Anyway, I’ve taken the time to mentally put his & my mother’s horrible behavior on the back burner. I imagine putting them in a box, & putting it on a shelf, to deal with later, when I am able to. For now, I’m focusing on my grief. I’m grieving fully the loss of a beautiful, wonderful little girl who made my life better, which she deserves & I need to do.
If you too end up in this painful position with a narcissist, then please remember this! Don’t let them steal your grief. You need to take care of yourself during this fragile time. If you need space, take it & without guilt. If you must deal with your narcissistic parent(s), then try doing as I have- imagine putting her (them) in a box & placing it on a shelf, until you are able to deal with that pain. I know that stuffing emotions is a bad thing, but this is different- it’s simply postponing dealing with them temporarily until you are more able to do so.