Why Do Narcissists Hate Grief So Much?

by Caroline van Kimmenade

Narcissists really hate tears, have you noticed? If you’re the one crying, they’ll be the first one to ridicule you or make you shut up one way or another.

To overt narcissists, tears spell weakness. That’s something they’ll likely admit to, because they like to boast about being strong.

To covert narcissists, crocodile tears (not real tears) are an all-time favorite manipulation tactic.

drawing of crocodile tears. crocodile with a tear.

Covert narcissists will happily use a big display of crocodile tears to get their way. Yet both overt and covert narcissists really really hate true grief.

What is grief? Let’s start there

Grief is the natural reaction to loss ~Mayo Clinic

Narcissist: “Did you say loss? You mean loser.”

Well technically yes, when someone loses something, they are a loser. They are a loser of what they lost.

Why narcissists hate grief: grief is for losers

Note how loser is a swear word. Nobody wants to be a loser. Yet, when you are grieving you are technically a loser.

That’s the first hint on why narcissists hate grief.

Anyone with the smallest bit of empathy would understand that going through a real loss, doesn’t make you a loser in the swearing sense.

A loser is someone who is losing all the time because of their own stupid choices. There are true losers out there, they manage to muck everything up. Not because it was inevitable, but because they made it inevitable.

Yet, narcissists are black-white thinkers. This often means they take words very literally. You’re grieving, so you lost something, so you’re a loser, so you’re weak.

But that’s just one explanation.

Why narcissists hate grief: being wrong

The other explanation for why narcissists hate grief, is that when we grieve, when we lost something, there is often something we were wrong about. After all, if you’d been able to perfectly predict what would happen, in most cases you wouldn’t have ended up with loss.

Losing someone you care about to death is the exception here, but in most other cases, the losses we go through happen in part because we didn’t see something coming, expected something else to happen, were betrayed, something unusual happened or life was otherwise out of our control.

To a narcissist all of that spells: big fat loser.

Because, it’s not exactly as if you’re winning is it?

If you think this is a bit of a strange train of thought – I agree. It is a strange way to think about something as natural as grief.

Yet I think that narcissists – with their obsession with winning big all the time – instinctively understand something about grief that many of us never consider:

When you’re grieving, part of that grieving involves coming to terms with something you were wrong about.

And narcissists hate being wrong, so much so that they’ll pile ridiculous lie on top of ridiculous lie to avoid admitting to it.

The Pain of Grief

Every kind of grief requires a small ego death.

You’re not as important to someone as you hoped or expected, so they didn’t bother maintaining a friendship when it became inconvenient for them.

Something you cared about ended and you didn’t see it coming. Your local gym closed. That restaurant you loved is now gone.

The neighborhood kids that your kids loved playing with suddenly moved away without warning (Their parents didn’t want to deal with the emotional upheaval of an official going away party/announcement and took the “easy” way out. How your family feels about it doesn’t matter apparently.)

You thought you could trust someone, but they stabbed you in the back. That loyalty, shared values and care you simply assumed were there, turned out to be a fluke.

You thought there’d be time to do something you really wanted to do, but then life got in the way. Travel plans got canceled. The school you wanted to attend got new prerequisites.

You didn’t take your health limits seriously enough and/or were misinformed and now you’ve been struggling to get better, for months, with no end in sight.

You lost your job over something you never though anyone would ever fire someone over.

Your friends and family have come to believe radically different things than you, so much so that you no longer feel connected to them.

And on and on and on.

Grief says: you lost something, and you were wrong about something

That is a small ego death but also a necessary adjustment. Pushing on as if grief didn’t exist would be stupid because it would mean you kept pretending the world is something it clearly isn’t.

And this is something many of us instinctively understand, yet narcissists do not:

You cannot make the world be the way you want it to be. At every turn, there are clashes between what you hoped would be, and what actually is.

Keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground, and not floating in the sky, is how you build resilience and an actual ability to create positive change.

Yet actual influence like this requires admitting defeat time and time again. It means grieving losses. It means feeling like a loser. These are all things narcissists refuse to do.

Instead, they push on pretending that things which long ago crumbled, are still going strong. Confronted with true loss they lash out or blame. All to avoid honest hurting.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of us need to follow their lead.

It doesn’t mean narcissists discovered some kind of magical life elixer. It’s just that they’d rather muscle other people into compliance with their narrative, than face the actual music. It means they’re rather manage how things look, than deal with how things actually are.

Don’t follow their lead, o.k.? Let yourself grieve when you need to.

P.S. Got a bunch of narcissists stinking up your life? The No to Narcissists Programme for Highly Sensitive People can help.

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