Grief and selfishness

by Judy
(Rockledge FL)

I have been thinking a lot lately about a chance remark made by Hope in VA that the only benefits of grief is selfishness.

I have to say I agree with that, grief has very few benefits but the knowledge that it will end sometime.

But I believe this kind of selfishness isn't a negative at all. It's actually a positive-it's a sign that you are growing and coming back to some kind of life out of the confusion. I also think it's a sign of healing-you are well enough now to concentrate on something, make decisions about something, start looking forward to something. After the exhausting and confusing times of early grief it makes sense that the thing you would concentrate on is yourself. After all, it's all on you now.

Having lived a little while with grief and it's aftermath I can say that for me it is almost like having another adolescence but one in which I am smarter and braver. I have the same sense of not being sure where am I going. But this time I know who I am because I know where I've been. I can also roll with the punches a little easier. I'm not going to waste time when I see something isn't working for me and I won't spend time with people or things that don't make me happy. Life is too short, time is too precious.

So don't worry about being selfish. It's just a sign that the new you is emerging.

Much love to all of you who keep me propped up on my low days by your comments and presence on this site.

Chugging along one day, one minute, one breath at a time.


Comments for Grief and selfishness

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Jul 28, 2012
Mature grief...
by: Hope


I feel that I have not been able to articulate the feelings that grief has lead me through these past 2 1/2 years. You, Zoe any every one who has felt the devasting effects of grief do it soooooo much better. I do know that by the time I hit the two year mark, I felt as though I were sliding backwards again. Felt that I should be "better" by now.

If I were to attempt to put it into words...

The first year is survival. Surviving the firsts, all the holidays, birthdays and day to day memories that assure you that you are going insane.

The 2nd year reality kicks in with "So...this is really happening huh? What do I do now?!!" With "widow's brain" for the first two years it was not an easy task to accept death and try to make this "new Normal" work for me.

It was not until this Summer 2012 the 2 1/2 year mark that I began to feel some genuine contentment and joy in life again. Attempting to live life to the fullest, I was not sure if I was running from life or doing my damnedest to experience it.

I know that I will always Miss and Love My husband. In my heart I am still his wife and cannot see myself feeling any other way. Yet once upon a time I could not imagine getting out of bed, going to work or raising my then 11 year old.

So I guess this selfishness for lack of better word is merely and amazingly getting to know ourselves all over again. We still feel empathy for people, We are there when they need us as we have always been but now, we take that precious time for ourselves as well. We no longer waste precious moments or time knowing full well that time and memories can be all that we are left with when the one we had them with dies.

I have become stronger now. I never thought it possible. Death is unfortunately part of life. I would have wanted to punch someone in the mouth had they said that very thing to me in grief. But I know that as horrendous as it was surviving grief I was meant to LIVE life not just survive it.

As always, One Breath, one step at a time.

Jul 28, 2012
Who we are now that half was torn away
by: Anonymous


I think that you knew what I meant some posts ago where I said the only benefit of grief is selfishness. I had meant it as you tried to explain it. I still think with my heart and tend to help all those in need as it is my nature.

By my stating that grief has made me selfish I mean that I no longer worry about the petty things that are not worth wasting your breath on. After all that grief has taken from us, it made us stronger in the end. self knowing- knowing what is actually important now. To have grown and rediscovered ourselves and take the time to do what was always wanted to. That does not make us self centered merely going through a 2nd puberty of sorts as we get to know who we are now that half of us was torn away.

I get what you are saying, and as I live this life with more gusto and appreciation, I waste not a drop of time. Life has become precious because of my loss. I continue to find out who I am and am. Becoming with that somewhat selfish in that life is far too precious to waste with the games people play, the pettiness and other quirks that people think make life. Nothing could be further from the truth and only people who have endured and survived griefs horrible gutting of the soul will understand.

Jul 16, 2012
Selfishness or Not
by: Anonymous

I get what everyone is saying here about grief and selfishness. I am almost 3 months into my grief. Some days it seems overwhelming and hard to get through the day. Other days I seem to be able to function and go about the business of living w/o a lot of problems. I admit that the days I am in the throes of my grief, I have felt selfish that I am lucky to still have what I do and yet to be feeling so bad and lost. Some have so much less than I do and still have to go on.
So, yes, I do seem to know what you mean by being selfish. I do have feelings of hope that someday there will be some joy again.

Jul 15, 2012
Grief and selfishness
by: Mari

The tears and sorrow that one experiences with a loss are a cleansing process. Eventually you feel better and go on. On the other hand selfishness is different. It is thinking only of ones self and not considering the feelings of others.
I have never been selfish in that way because I genuinely care for others.
I must say that this grief journey has not been fun but it is passing. There have been times I wanted to be alone but realize that with 2 jobs it is hardly possible.
At any rate we have the right to deal with feelings and even pent up anger. Eventually it gets better. God made us in such a way that there is healing in his wings. We go on and make a life for ourselves. Each one of us has different ways of dealing with grief. It seems it will never end but it does.Anyway being selfish does not play a part. It is a natural process to grieve.

Jul 14, 2012
Grief and selfishness
by: Mari

Hi Judy. I really do not feel I have been selfish during the grieving process. It was something I could not control and needed to go through it. How can it be selfish when you have lost a part of yourself?
I am doing so much better but will always miss my husband. I miss too that he never got to see our great granddaughter who is 1 1/2 now and talking more every day.
I am thankful my husband was in my life. I went through some changes, a job change for one and it has turned out to be a positive change.The kindness shown me on the job and with friends and family has helped.Church too.
One may feel selfish to grieve but I doubt that it can be avoided so therefore it isn't selfish. I was entitled to the needed time and so are you. At times I felt as if I was in a different life time and so I am. My granddaughter moved in with the baby and that has been a huge help. The great granddaughter is just so much fun to have around.My granddaughter brought her cat along and I had wanted a cat. She gave me the cat and that cat seems to know she is now mine. It was a loving gesture on my granddaughter's part. You know Judy. We are all different in the way we handle losses. I just kept going. I want to work as long as I can and keep my family close. Take care. Keep posting.

Jul 14, 2012
Grief and Selfishness
by: Doreen U.K

For Judy (Rockledge Fl)
Judy nice reply. You didn't strike a negative chord with me. I just see Grief as not being negative because it happens to us. I know you wouldn't upset anyone on this site.
You say you are a deep thinker and this is the way your post came accross. I used to be introspective.
Nothing wrong with this either.
I am probably not a lot different from you. I am probably a lot older than you so see things so differently. I just see selfishness as part of our human nature and something that has to be overcome in life and this is also part of our human battle.
But hey it is good to accept each others differences and perhaps I learned something from you. I am only 8 weeks into grief. It is early days.
I wish you well in life. May you be Blessed.
Best wishes

Jul 13, 2012
For Doreen in UK
by: Judy


It would never be my intention to come to this site and ever post anything that would make life tougher for anyone who is greiving.

This site has been my lifeline and my connection to others who were on this horrible road. I think of everyone as the sisters I don't have to lean on when it's tough out there.

I am am truly sorry I struck such a negative chord with you.

Selfishness has a very negative context in most things. I certainly didn't mean for anyone who is greving to think of themselves as selfish for being in grief. What I meant to say, and apparently did not do it well, is that when the time comes that you can feel something besides misery, pain and loss to concentrate on yourself is not a bad thing.

Women in general seem to always put themselves last. For those of us who were caregivers to our lost spouses it might be years since we ever thought to put ourself first.

I don't know where you are on the grief path. I am at 2 years, 8 months. I know that early on I couldn't think straight, make decisions, go a full day without crying, and was carried along on an emotional whirlwind which I couln't control. For me to come out of that and be selfish, put myself first, was progress.

It true we all grieve differently. I am a person who is introspective by nature and thinks things through pretty deeply, whether it's buying a new bedspread or moving to another state. I guess this personality trait came through grief with me.


Jul 13, 2012
Grief and selfishness
by: Doreen U.K.

Judy, I find your in depth analysis of Grief a bit bizarre. GRIEF is not SELFISH. Either in a positive or negative way. It is something that happens to us. Not something that we CHOOSE. It is a natural happening to Pain caused by LOSS. Don't read too much into what is happening and just let it happen naturally. Every persons grief journey is different. Often one should be treated with EMPATHY and SYMPATHY. Not an analysis about the SELF. Most people grieving are in so much pain they should always be treated with the utmost CARE. & RESPECT. They will often feel as if they have been knocked down by a bus and can't get up. For each of us it will be a different expression but the same feeling of having no energy to go on. These are all normal feelings. They are also common to all in grief. With people on this grief site expressing themselves is healthy, normal, and healing. The SELF does come into it because if at any time in a person's life they are confronted by deep sorrow and have to FOCUS on SELF. Without becoming Selfish. There is nothing negative or positive about grief. IT JUST IS. AND WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT. Let us not add CONFUSION or being SELFISH to the mix as most people in grief will not be able to Process any CONFUSION at this time.

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