Angry grieving partner - taking it out on me.

I’m not sure if I am in the right place but I can’t find any resources for helping someone who is supporting a partner through intense grief. My partner’s died passed away from lung cancer in May, during lockdown, it was a very intense and stressful hospice at home situation with little help due to the pandemic. We were only allowed 9 people at his funeral.

Due to the pandemic my partner has also lost his job and is currently doing temp work. He is very anxious about work. We are also moving house soon so that I can start a new course. He is very unhappy about having to move.

He seems to be struggling with his feelings, he doesn’t talk about his dad much or how her feels about it, but instead gets angry and frustrated/annoyed with me very easily over -what i think - are very small things that do not justify that level of annoyance. I’ve tried talking to him about it and saying that it’s okay he feels angry and frustrated but its not okay when its aimed at me. He has very low tolerance and a short fuse for anything I say; I feel like I’m walking on egg shells, but I don’t know what to do to stop annoying him as I don’t think I am doing anything wrong… I don’t know what to do as he doesn’t understand that he isn’t justified in getting so annoyed at me, in his head i am genuinely not getting things right and making him angry. So we seem to be in a circle.
I’ve suggested counselling to help him work out his emotions but he won’t do it.
Any help would be greatly appreciated, I’m really struggling and I’m trying not to get angry too but it’s really hard when I’m constantly feeling like a punch bag for emotions. It’s making us argue a lot. Maybe I am just getting it wrong? I don’t know… I don’t know what to do and I can’t keep going on like this, I’m worried it’s going to destroy our relationship.

I’m so sorry to hear about the death of your partner’s dad during lockdown and how it is affecting him, and impacting your relationship. It sounds as though you have a lot of additional stress in your lives, with his job loss and a house move to deal with.

Anger can be a common part of grief, but it sounds as though this is being unfairly directed at you. It is sad to hear that he won’t talk about his loss, or consider counselling, as it is really important to have outlets for grief. When someone bottles up emotions that can certainly be a factor that can make anger worse.

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to make him get support if he really isn’t willing, and it does sound as though you are doing your best to talk to him about this. Have you told him directly that he is risking destroying your relationship?

I hope that you’ll get some other helpful replies from members of this community, but I just wanted to suggest a couple of conversations from last month that you might find relevant to read or reply to:
@Becky1982 posted How can I help my husband after him loosing his dad?
@DeniseC posted Husband grieving and angry

Thank you,
He is very unhappy about having to relocate as it is yet another big change in his life this year. As we are moving because of me, starting a new uni course, I wonder whether some of is anger is resentment for me being the cause of one of these changes…

It’s really difficult because I don’t think he is connecting his lack of tolerance and easy annoyance at me for very little things - one comment I might say eg will cause a big outburst - with his grief feelings, I think he just genuinely thinks I’ve annoyed him and that he’s therefore justified in being angry. So I’ve tried to talk to him about it and how it upsets me and impacting on us, but I don’t know how to get him to understand that I am not the cause of these anger feelings and that he does need help to work through his emotions. Each time I try to talk to him about it he takes it as an argument/blame thing, getting angry and saying “so it’s all my fault then?!”. I just don’t know how to get out of this cycle or how to help him to connect his feelings with grief/make him realise that it isn’t me who is causing him to feel angry. He clearly needs some help and I’m trying my best but I don’t think I am the right person to try and help him as I seem to be just getting it wrong all the time. Feeling way out of my depth and this has been going on for 4 months now, I really think he needs some help to make sense of his feelings and talk it through with someone… I just don’t know what to do.

Thank you for the links to the other conversations.

Dear @Harriet_SM, I am so sorry that you and your partner are having difficulty in your relationship after the death of his dad. It must be an awful time for him.

Maybe he feels insecure that his work is temporary, and yet you are going to be starting a new course. You clearly have your life planned out for the next year or so, but he doesn’t. Maybe this has caused him to have low self-esteem? Did you suggest relationship counselling? That’s probably way too much for him at this time - I am someone who advocates counselling and talking about things, but if someone suggested relationship counselling after a few months since my dad died, I would find it very very stressful, and would not do it. When you have grief, focusing on other things can be difficult.

Of course, from your perspective, this is all rather unfair. No one wants to be blamed for things they didn’t do. And when you have no end date of when this blame will end, how can you carry on? What if things are the same a year from now? You don’t want to spend the next year living like this.

Do you actually talk to him about his dad? Maybe he doesn’t talk much about his dad because people are expected to be over it after a few months, and back to normal. Maybe if you talked to him about his dad, if you brought up the topic, like asked him questions about his dad and his childhood, that might make it easier for him to talk and cope with his grief? Maybe he feels you are moving on with your life and he is just lost, as he doesn’t have permanent work, is having to move, and has lost his dad. It seems he is overwhelmed?

Perhaps talking is not managing to get through because his anger swells instantly , try writing a letter to give to him that he can read and see how you want to support and care for him, and he can read when not so angry, but also get across that it is hard to help when he reacts against you hence the reason you wrote instead of talked

Hi. Unfortunately I have experience exactly the same thing with my husband. Although some days are better than others , the extreme reactions and high anxiety levels remain. I myself started a course of CBT therapy. This really helped me to manage my own feelings /reactions and if you like stay sane. Ultimately you can only control your own emotions/responses and way of thinking. You cannot change someone and if they are experiencing intense grief and coming out in this way you can’t change it. We are very distant with each other but in time I hope things will ease. I would consider your own self care so that you can cope too :pray: hope this helps x

Hi my husband lost his mum last week. I loved her to bits too. He also lost his job so similar story…although he is not angry so much as needing to do what he needs to do and we have a young son. It is hard when it is not your parent but you loved them all the same. You feel guilty but we can’t help our feelings. I hope I am in the right place too. X

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