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Think About It... Many individuals fail in attempts to detach from abusive relationships because they leave suddenly and impulsively, without proper planning, and without resources - and the emotions on both sides "amp" up. The best exit is one where you are boring and resigned. ~ Joseph Carver, PhD.
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Author Topic: How do BPD's react to the death of a parent?  (Read 9142 times)

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« on: June 12, 2011, 02:49:56 AM »

I have had a tumultuous relationship with my exBPD for the past 2.5 years with many, many breakups on her part. 

This time seems different and she is adamant that she does not want a relationship.  Her 80 yr old adoptive father passed away suddenly 6 months ago and she took it extremely badly.  Since then things went downhill in terms of her distance towards me and she is now in a state of immense anger and depression. During that time I supported her in any way I could but it never seemed enough.  We continued to go to counselling together and she would see the light and then break up with me again.

She has stated many times that her view of the world has now changed, how she just wants to be alone, how she has nothing to give and the relationship is impeding her grieving process.  However, her grieving seems to involve being in a complete state of withdrawal from the world and distractions including 3-4 hours per day looking at real estate and even more just searching the internet and focusing on work. 

I am very interested in other people's opinions on how a BPD reacts to the death of a parent or loved one?  I suspect her feelings of abandonment have been exacerbated by this particulalry given that she is adopted.
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Posts: 326

« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2011, 03:22:11 AM »

I dont know, its funny that you should ask this.  Ive had this conversation with my BPD ex fiance who hasnt lost a parent yet, or anyone close to her.   I lost my Dad when I was 28, so my mortality bell was rung young, and my entire life perspective changed.  My ex fiance could never understand why I was so passionate about putting people first...before money, anything else.  She is very self centered and loves money and the lifestyle that comes with it...so pretty shallow.  When Id try to talk to her about deeper things, like the death of a loved one, shed simply say, "I dont know, Ive never lost anybody close to me, so Im not really worried about it."  I often wonder if her perspective will change in the future.  

Anyway, Im curious what others have to say...about when their BPD has lost somebody close, and if it effects them too.  

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Posts: 12

« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2011, 06:00:17 AM »

I haven't lost anyone close to me yet but I have known others who have and like you, there seems to be a definite shift in your perspective to value the people around you who support, love and care for you.  My exBPD seems to be on a completely different wavelength where you must further push the ones closest to you away. 

I am very curious to see others perspectives on this. 
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Person in your life: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 455

« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2011, 06:27:03 AM »

Although looking back on our 20+ year marriage I see red flags from the start, in my view, the slide into crisis began with the death of H's mother.  I don't think he ever really properly grieved her death.  I think he thinks he did because professionally he's an experienced counsellor and has written about bereavement.  I think he did all the 'right' things in one way at the time but that there were issues with her from childhood that he never managed to resolve.  I wrote in my journal at the time that I was angry that family and friends placed a burden on him expecting him to be the 'rock' because of his professional background and not actually seeing him as a son whose mum had died. 

I didn't realise it at the time but I can now see that I started withdrawing emotionally around that time in response to his reaction.  This was eventually perceived by him as me leaving him.  He's now left and come back about 10 times but will still believe that i left him first (and this therefore justifies his behaviour).

Once when he was angry/dysregulated, he said something to me along the lines of not being enough of a mother to him.  When we separated, he was very quickly involved with someone I know he thinks of as more motherly (in terms of reassuring him/being more accepting of him etc). At the time they met, her mother was seriously ill and died soon after so that was something else they had in common.

He became increasingly angry with my own mother who he had been close to (I had counted myself so lucky that my H and mum got on so well - now my mother is heartbroken as she can't fully understand why he has cut her off).

He has issues with his dad as well and I have often wondered what will happen when his father dies.  We're now about to divorce and he's back with his gf so I won't be the one having to deal with the fallout. 

Hi mother's death seemed to trigger abandonment fears.
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Everything is as it is meant to be.

« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2011, 06:34:23 AM »

I have asked this question in a round-about-way before. The consensus was that they react badly and their BPD traits are less well masked and oftern openly displayed.

If you are in the firing line already then you need to watch out.

Others have said that the death of a parent was the trigger for their significant other to start painting them black when previously they were white.

I am not sure why this is the case. Clearly the death of a parent or a loved on is a major life trauma for everone. We would respond with grief. pwBPD respond with grief and rage and project this on to those closest to them.  cry



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« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2011, 07:12:44 AM »

Yes, I would have to say that her true traits have been very exposed following the death of her father. 

Prior to that she had some ability to mask particulalry, her anger.  For the first time she hit me following her father's death and said that I should leave the other night as she feared that she may hit me again. 

She just seems in a terrible place lately and has told me that she will never be the same person that I fell in love with.  She says the most ridiculous and distorted things about how she sees the relationship.  She admits to her volatility for the last few weeks and then breaks up with me because she is sick of the constant fights.  I just cannot get my head around that. 

This situation has been further exacerbated by the fact that she has been introduced to mood stabilisers and the doctor is reducing her anti depressants.  Additionally she is low in Vitamin D and Iron so they have now given her that.  I think the combination of the reduction in antidepressants and increase in mood stabilsers has made the situation even worse.

I have been to her house a few times to talk to her and she is receptive and even affectionate, brushing my hair, telling me I am pretty, carressing my hand, hugging me, kissing me on the cheek but will turn soon after if I say anything about a reconciliation.

I really hope this will change if I can give her a few months space.  I feel so empty and sad at how this has turned out given how much I have loved her and emotionally invested to try and understand her.

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Everything is as it is meant to be.

« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2011, 08:53:04 AM »

Yes, I would have to say that her true traits have been very exposed following the death of her father. 

How would you describe her father as he appeared to you?

How did she perceive her father?

Did she ever detach from his influence.

Did he have BPD or even NPD?

Was he a third person in your marriage or did he let you be the the "man of your house"?

Did she put him on a pedestel?

What need did he fulfill in her. There will be a huge loss for her.

She may find it hard to own some of the conflicting feelings she has at the moment. All the negative ones may be projected onto you.

Staying: Improving a Relationship with a Borderline Partner

Boundaries - Upholding our values and independence

Best phrases for setting boundaries

Before You Can Make Things Better, You have To Stop Making Things Worse

Supporting your BPD partner

You may find some of the above helpful to you.

I wish you well.

Is your wife seeing a therapist?

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Posts: 140

« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2011, 01:42:36 PM »


I cant really answer how they would react at a later date if a parent passed away but i believe that is what caused my exBPDg/f condition when her father passed away in the middle of the night. I believe she was 6 years old at the time and from what i know he was quite healthy but had a heart attack in the night that killed him and i believe it was my ex who tried to wake him the following morning.

My ex as carried that with her i believe right up to now at the age of 36, and she always always would say to me that no matter what happens please dont leave me in the night, also when she would split me black and we would split up she would say this hurts too much, this is why i dont let people in.

So, if a death of a caretaker at a young age causes abandoment issues, then i would think one at a later age would cause those feelings to be magnified, remember you are dealing with basicly a child inside

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Posts: 10

« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2011, 03:24:14 PM »

my "ex?" (still wondering if that will stick) lost her father a year after we got together.  She was his caregiver before that.  I would say that grief exacerbated her BPD behavior and four years later it has not gotten better.  I don't have to tools to explain the why or the room on this page to explain how but there was a difference and I am the only punching bag.  (not literally)
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Person in your life: Parent
Posts: 878

« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2011, 03:28:42 PM »

It has been a little over a year for us and my BPDsis is most definitely is getting worse.  She can't even con people like she used to-- people who normally would take 3-6 months to realize something was wrong with her now can tell in 3-5 days.

She just got fired for the second time in 1 month and she now lives in a different state than her husband. 

She isn't in touch with reality any more-- fully lives in the world of her delusions and is unable to function in the world. 

It is the worst I have seen her other than one other severe episode about ten years ago, but I think this time she is going to set records for herself.  This could end up very very badly.


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