5 Ways Unresolved Grief Affects Relationships

“There are ghosts asleep inside every one of us: arcane issues never addressed, ancient griefs never laid to rest, suspicions, self-doubts, banished longings, secret meanings.” ―David Richo

Over the last several months I have taken some time to myself, for my own personal growth and renewal. This is the first article I have written since then.  During this interval, I spent a lot of time reflecting on relationships and what gets in the way of us having connections that are filled with love, respect, trust and safety. It is no wonder this is the topic that first came to mind for me to write about.

unresolved grief affects our relationshipGood relationships start with the self: knowing yourself and where you have old wounds to heal as well as areas where you need to grow. This is part of what being a responsible adult looks like–owning what is yours and taking responsibility for changing it.

The accumulated unresolved losses from our past can and will show up in our relationships, particularly intimate ones. This is not a bad thing so don’t shoot the messenger. Instead, see these things as sign posts towards your own evolution and healing.


Unresolved Grief And Our Relationships

These are five potential ways in which the results of unhealed losses can show up, even to the best of us:

Projection Through Anger and Blame

Unresolved grief can become like a landmine of feelings just waiting to be triggered. When our angry feelings come, we are not aware of the true source and our default reaction is to project them onto our partners or children and blame them for what is going on inside us. If we didn’t have the land mine to begin with, our loved ones would not be able to detonate our anger.


When we have suffered loss in the past we can become fearful of the future. We can be less inclined to take a risk in love and relationships and miss out on an amazing partner. We can also fear losing our partner and become suffocating and controlling.


Betrayal, the ultimate trust breaker can leave us insecure and suspicious of even the most honorable and trust worthy. This can wreak havoc on any relationship, becoming a source of frustration and resentment instead of a place of love and safety.


We like to protect ourselves, and when we have suffered a loss which involved a lot of pain we can often build walls around our hearts to avoid feeling that pain again. We don’t let our partner in emotionally and deny our loved ones–and ourselves–the beauty of real intimacy.


Loss can leave us feeling unworthy of being happy; becoming victims instead of survivors. To maintain this state, we will often sabotage our relationships to remain a victim, hurting ourselves, our partners and potentially our children.

Relationships take the full brunt of Unresolved Grief. Very few people enter relationships without some level of Unresolved Grief, commonly referred to as “Baggage”. Our relationships then become the perfect vessel in which we can see just how heavy our luggage is, and whether we are carrying an overnight bag or a trunk.

Projection, fear, trust, walls and sabotage are all indicators that we are wounded and need to do some personal healing and growth work.

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