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Just under a week ago my boyfriends dad died rather suddenly. He had been in ill health for a while but this speed of his further ill health and his subsquent death was a shock not only for my boyfriend and his mum, but myself as well.


I really want to help him, but I feel so useless as I still have my dad and the closest I can come to his loss is the loss of both my grans.


He sometimes seems rather upbeat and other days he seems so down and I know this is part of grieving but its hard seeing him in so much pain. He does talk to me about his dad and he has cried in front of me...just not since the funeral but he has said he does have moments where things overwhelm him. I have made it clear to him that I don't see him crying as weak and when he talks about his dad I do encourage him to make him realise I want to listen to him talk.


He was extremely close to his dad and while I think in time those memories will help him, just now they make him hurt so bad. If I could I would take the pain from him but I know I can't but every time I see or hear him hurting it makes me hurt that I can't do anything to take it away.


At the moment he seems to be rollerballing from depression ~ finding it difficult to enjoy things and to find the energy to do stuff, to some sort of acceptance. He has never said he dosen't believe his dads gone, in fact hes very matter of fact about that.


I know it's still very early days, but I really want to be here for him...does anyone have ideas or tips on how I can do so as I know this won't be over in a few weeks or months...this is something that will take a long time and I understand that. He knows I love him and that Im there for him night or day (for we don't live together...he still lives at home as do I)...it just doesn't feel enough and thats sometimes worse in a sense.


Hi Ellie,


You sound like a very compassionate and caring person, and that will carry you through this period. You are right that this is the very beginning. The first days, weeks and year following a significant loss are generally very difficult and powerfull times. They are important times for the person who is coping with the loss as they will grow and change in the face of this new experience. Your acceptance and presence are very supportive acts. Many times bereaved people loose friends and relationships during their grief because they are often sad, depressed and just not the best of company. Your boyfriend's behaivor sounds very on target considering how recently his father died. If in 5 or 6 months he seems to be very depressed he may need to seek help. Other concerns would be if he started drinking excessively or using drugs  or if there is an eratic change in his behavior. Eventually he and his family may want to create a memorial for his father and you may be able to share in that experience with them. Reading books about grief may help you to feel more familiar with bereavement and comfortable n helping your boyfriend.


Best wishes,


Laura Slap-Shelton, Psy.D.


Thank you for your kind words.


I still love my boyfriend very much and am hurting so much right now.


He seemed to be coping, albeit a bit distant here and there and was rather snippy with his mum, but we seemed ok.


However two weekends ago it would have been his dads birthday and I spent practically the entire weekend with him...even going to the cemetry with him and his mum. He was so angry at his mum and everything she said provoked his temper so we went away for the day and met up with some of his friends.


He started his new job the next day and that week he seemed tired, but I put it down to his new job being really physical. However the Saturday he disappeared for ages before turning up really late that night. I was a little annoyed as I felt that without warning I had been bumped to the bottom of the pile but bit my tongue as it was the first month anniversary.


Despite being tired he kept hugging me and telling me he loved me as usual ~ nothing majorly out of the ordinary. We made plans to do something on the Sunday, but he never called so I texted him and it turned out he was out somewhere and had obviously forgotten. I was hurt and then later on I found out my Uncle had died so I texted him saying I was sorry but I really could do with a hug and telling him why.


I heard nothing so left it till the next day ~ he wouldnt answer his phone. The next day at lunchtime I checked my phone and he said he needed space and couldnt deal with our relationship right now as he needed to go and do whatever whenever, but in a few months time perhaps we could try again and that he was really sorry for letting me down. He did start the message with his nickname for me which gives me the hope that he still loves me.


Yes Im heartbroken I love him so much and I still believe he is the one. I honestly think looking back that he is playing hide and seek with his grief...if he pushes everyone away then it wont hurt, his life isn't going the way he wants it so he's gonna make everyone else around him hurt instead.


He agreed to talk but keeps saying in a few days in a few days so things aren't as painful. Ive had enough of waiting, I need to talk to him for myself as much as him and the pain isn't getting better its getting harder to deal with.


I was thinking of trying to get him to see that hes hurting others. That his mum has lost not only a husband but her son as well as hes pushing her away and is never at home these days and I dont think she can talk to him without provoking him.


How do I royally kick his backside and make him see that hes not helping himself and hurting others in a way that will work? I want him back as well and I want to be there and to support and to help him but its sort of difficult when he wont let me. And what hurts most of all that hes indulging in Ostrich syndrome instead of dealing with his grief...and I know his dad would be really disappointed in the way hes treating people lately but short of telling him that I don't really know how to go about it.


Hi Ellie,


Well, sorry to hear its heading in this direction... but here are some thoughts. First, he doesn't really have anything to give you at the time so you are going to need to find other sources of nurturance for yourself, particularly as there has been a death in your family now as well.


Second, men are often described as grieving differently than women. They tend to act out their grief and do active things to process their grief. They tend to not talk out their feelings as much. There are some books on men and grief - if you look in the book store on this site or in the book reviews on this site you will find them. I'll come back later and identify the one's I'm thinking of - can't remember them off the top of my head at the moment. You might want to read one  and pass it on to your boyfriend.


Third, it sounds like he may have some unresolved issues with his mother and family and this may be a time of big upheaval for him. So in addition, to channeling his grief into anger, which is a very normal part of the grief process, he may also have some other issues that are coming up for him at this time. They might not have anything to do with you and he might not know how to address them.


Depending on how upsetting this is for you, you may want to do some counseling for yourself to help process your feelings during this difficult time. Without knowing you better it would be hard for me to make any suggestions. Sometimes it helps to put your feelings out in the open, but sometimes it's best to be patient and see what happens. A therapist could help you figure out the best course for you and your relationship.


Hang in there, and remember to take care of yourself.




Hi Ellie-


The writer I am thinking of is Tom Golden. Go to his website at:



I'm not sure why he's not on my website - will have to restore his information.


Remember to find your other friends and nurture yourself.




Hi again,


OK- he has two articles on my website- go to articles and scroll down and you will find them...



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