Jealousy: The Dark Side of Grief

orange spider mum

Jealousy. It’s such a horrible word. It evokes visions of mean-spirited, negative, and unkind people. No one wants the label, and we often will do anything not to get it. But what if, for just a moment, we were honest? What if we put perceptions aside and just admitted that we were jealous? It’s ugly, but it’s human. We are human, and sometimes we need to accept that we will have these thoughts.

So I’m going to start. My name is Catherine, and sometimes I get jealous. I look around me every day, and all I see is pregnant women and babies. Everywhere. They seem to be everywhere. Everyone around me seems to have what I so desperately long for and sometimes it feels like torture.

Related: Envy of Other People’s Pregnancies

On my good days, I can deal with it. I can look at a blissfully happy pregnant woman and smile. Her innocence and joy can sometimes even feel infectious, like I, too, could be that happy again someday. I feel thankful that she is safe and that her baby is safe, too. Above all else, I hope that she gets to bring her baby home and doesn’t ever have to know the pain of leaving the hospital with empty arms. Basically, I hope that she never has to be me.

And then there are the bad days. These days aren’t pretty. A usually generous and kind mind flips to the dark side where jealousy and spite seem to thrive. I look at the same blissfully happy pregnant woman and my heart sinks with self-pity. Why must everything be so hard for me? I pick her apart. I obsess over every detail, comparing my seemingly “perfect” self to her inevitable inadequacies. In my mind I am fitter, I am healthier, I am younger. But yet I have no baby in my arms or in my belly and mothering a child here on earth seems more elusive than ever. No matter what, it always comes back to the same question… Why her and not me?

I cringe even writing this. These jealous thoughts are not healthy. They go against my nature. They are dark, negative and destructive, everything I hate. I don’t share them with people mainly because I feel ashamed for having them. I don’t know this woman or what she has been through or what she might go through in the future. For all I know, she might be a loss mum, too, or she might have also fought through years of infertility. Either way, she deserves her baby regardless of whether I have mine.

Related: How To Not Be A Bitter Bridesmaid

It’s hard not to judge myself for these jealous thoughts. I mean what type of person thinks like this? And that’s when it hit me—most people. Most people in my situation would have thoughts like these. And that’s why I’m sharing, that is why I am airing my dirty laundry in public. I want other women to know that they are not alone. I want them to know that these thoughts are not crazy; in fact, they are quite normal. Our minds can bring us to bad places, but it doesn’t make us bad people.

What if instead of chastising ourselves in private we shared this very dark, ugly side of grief together? What if we accepted these thoughts and instead of shame, we acknowledged that they are valid? By doing this, we could free ourselves from the shackles of their negativity. Jealousy might no longer be a dirty little secret but, instead, empower us to discuss the very hardest aspects of our grief together.


Photo by Ramón Salinero on Unsplash

  • Catherine Travers

    Catherine blogs at Benjamin's Light about her experiences of stillbirth and life after loss following the death of her son, Benjamin, who was born sleeping at 35 weeks in April 2017. You can also follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram.


    • Natalia Elizondo Williamson

      August 3, 2018 at 9:51 pm

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Benjamin is such a beautiful name. Thank you for sharing your grief journey with us.
      My son’s name is Luke Williamson. He was born sleeping on July 15, 2018 at 38 weeks.
      I have been having the same feelings of jealousy and then guilt for my jealousy. When I see pregnant women and mommies with their babies I feel like I am being stabbed in the heart. I feel angry that I am not the one with my son in my arms. Not angry at them but at the universe. I feel like my husband and I were cheated. Our lives had been so perfect and now we will forever have this pain in our hearts.
      I feel awful harboring jealousy and anger – not just because it’s ugly to have the feelings but also because I feel like it’s a betrayal of my son and our family’s story.
      I hope with time I can have more of the good days you mention, but at this early stage I just fall apart with jealousy. Thank you for giving this part of our grief legitimacy.

    • Lucy

      August 15, 2018 at 11:38 pm

      This made me feel more normal…I lost my son Angel 7/28/18 at just 20 weeks and I have had a rollercoaster of emotions…Jealousy and envy being the most difficult. I used to be a cheerful person and always tried to stay positive. My husband and I tried to be the best versions of ourselves we could and although we had issues trying to conceive for a few years when Angel came along we thought; finally! Our prayers were answered…then as quickly as he was given to us he was taken away and now I look at mommies or soon to be mommies and my heart breaks and I feel myself fill with envy. I’m working on getting to happy moments but right now it seems so difficult to get to…

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