Chapter 3: Impact of the death on family relationships


When my grandmother died, I came to terms with the fact that my mother and I had very different relationships with her. I knew that my mother wouldn’t – or couldn’t – share my grief.We've all been grieving in our own way but we still try to be there for each other. I'm grateful for the support of my family and of my friends.


Whenever there is a death within a family, it affects everyone. Your parents, children, other grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins may also be grieving, but not always in the same way as you or each other.

You may feel that grieving the loss has brought you closer together in some ways. You may also feel shocked or disappointed by the way others in your family respond to your grandparent’s death.  

The grief experienced in your family is as unique as each relationship. Others  may have had a different kind of relationship with your grandparent than you.  

If others in your family express feelings that are different than yours or ones that surprise you, you may find this brings up additional emotions in your grief. Whatever your family dynamics, they may be intensified during this time. 

Roll your mouse over each of the boxes below to see some examples of this.

If you felt someone treated your grandparent badly…




…you might now resent any expressions of grief or regret for their behaviour.




If your family members are openly expressive with thoughts and feelings…



…they will likely be even more so when sharing grief.


If some family members don’t usually share their thoughts and feelings…



…this may not change when they are grieving.


If there are ongoing tensions in your family…



…these may get even bigger.


You may feel disappointed or let down by family members who are unavailable or unwilling to support you. It may help you to know that it is rare for family members to be “on the same page” at the same time while grieving.

What may help

If you can remember that most patterns of behaviour within a family are not conscious and are developed over many years, this may help you to accept or at least tolerate others’ grief and grieving styles. Be as patient and kind as you can, with yourself as well as with others.

While other people in your family may need your compassion and support, it’s important to acknowledge and make time for your own grief.

It may be valuable for you to seek support from outside your own family.

Helpful resources