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My ex-boyfriend died - don't know how to grief

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Hi, I am writing here, cause I don't really know who to talk to. My ex boyfriend died a year ago, and I am still grieving or maybe haven't even started processing it. So I would like to share my story here.

Matt and I met in 2013 during our senior year in college. He was a person who loved deep conversation, didn't shy away from emotions, always encouraged me to deam, and was also funny and enjoyable to be around. From the moment I met him, I felt a deep connection to him. As I was still in a relationship when we met, it took a while for us to actually start dating. He already had feelings for me from the first day we met in class, mine came a bit later. When we finally were together, we shared some passionate and beautiful months together, but while I was falling more and more in love with him, his feelings started to fade. So after some time on and off, lots of tears (on both sides) we ended it. To this day, the break-up is still a painful memory. I never understood why his feelings changed, he also had no explanation for it, but eventually I started to accept it and went on with my life. Years later David would still reach out regularly trying to stay friends by checking-in or sharing a nice memory from the past. But every time I heard from him, it was still hurting so eventually I stopped responding to him and we lost contact. 

One year ago, a common friend from college reached out to tell me about the accident and Matt's death. He was living in Alaska, had a new girlfriend and seemed very happy. The news were a real shock and since then, I have been struggling with the feelings of grief. A mixed of emotions started to overwhelm me. Feelings similar to the break-up came flooding over me. My body immediately remembered everything, the good and the bad of the relationship. Even one year after his death, I think about him daily, and often feel the pain. It is very confusing, as he was not part of my daily life for a long time, and before his death, I did not think of him that often. Did I never get any closure of our relationship, or is this a normal feeling of grief? 

Another feeling I carry with me is shame. I am ashamed to have this strong feeling of grief, considering what his girlfriend, his close friends and family must be going through. Like I am not allowed to grieve, as I was not part of his live anymore. Due to this I also don't really talk about it with anyone. In the beginning I shared my feelings with close friends, but the comments were mostly that they felt so sorry for his family and his new girlfriend. There wasn't much of an understanding for my emotions, which I understand, but unfortunately it is not helping me in the process. I would like to reach out to his parents, I always liked them a lot, but I'm also not sure how they would react if an ex-girlfriend reaches out. We are living in different countries, and I am not part of his inner-friends or community circle. 

Maybe someone reading this has gone through a similar experience, and can relate to the conflicting feeling of losing an ex you loved deeply. And also feeling alone. 

Thanks for reading my story and if you have any recommendations for me, please let me know.


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Dear goejas31,

What you are describing is perfectly understandable.  Sadly, I can relate.  I recently lost "my first love" to a tragic and unexpected death.  He was my first love, first matching tatoo :), first promise and first breakup that devastated us both.  Over the years our paths would cross and over the years either him or I would be hopeful for reconciliation but we never got our timing right.  His mom would pick up the pieces of his broken heart and had no reason to be nice to me but when I heard of his tragic death (November 2021) I did reach out to her and his one sibling.  Both expressed gratitude that I had contacted them and both were very kind, understanding that I would be going through my own grief at the loss of him.

My point is, there is no easy fix for what you are suffering.  You loved him and apparently, your heart meant it.  I will always love my first love and I will always miss him. It doesn't mean I don't love my husband (I do with all my heart) but when Bill died, he took a piece of my heart with him that belonged only to him and I will never be the same person again.  I will always watch for him downtown (as I always had) because sometimes I forget that it is real and he is truly not with us anymore. I think that we all have our own way of grieving and the fact that someone special came into our lives and impacted us so deeply is a good thing!  I hope this helps.

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Dear greenriver, 

first of all I am sorry for your loss. Thank you very much for your reply. It completely described how I feel, but was not able to put into words. I have realized that the greif really comes in waves, some days it is better, and some it is worse. And you are right, that someone special came into our lived and impacts us so deeply is a good thing.  So instead of "fighting" the feelings of grieve (which I have been mostly), I may rather accept these emotions. 

Again, thank you for sharing your feelings and perspective. 

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