- 4 years ago
So, my BF’s mother died two weeks ago, he has been distraught, and I am fumbling through trying to support him. She was the only family he felt close to, and there was a LOT of family drama following her death and at the funeral. Because of this, he’s been really withdrawn, depressed, and stagnant the past few weeks.
He is a very emotionally driven person, while I am about as rational as it gets. I tend to be dismissive of feelings (my own, not others’… the way I see it, strong emotions tend to get in the way of greater progress/goals). My BF, on the other hand, leads his life based on how he feels. It works out for both of us as individuals on a day-to-day basis, but it makes working through emotional problems together VERY difficult, because we have such differing views on the significance of our feelings.
I’ve been trying to be there for him as well as I can, but I know it’s not cutting it. I’m not afraid to admit that I have NO idea what the hell I’m doing, but I’ve been attempting to figure out what’s helping and what’s not. Key word: attempting. He’s always been very hard to read, he has never been the type to just offer up what he’s thinking without a bit of prodding, and now, everytime he DOES tell me something, it’s very vague. He is expecting me to help him through this, but I feel so lost and clueless as to how to begin and where to go from there.
We got into an argument the other day, when I was *trying* to help him out and ease his mood. Obviously the things I was doing and saying were not helping, because he told me that I don’t put enough effort into being there for him when he really needs it. I, of course, disagreed because I’ve been putting in a ton of effort, just failing at making any true headway. We got into a bit of a dispute over it, which I feel REALLY terrible for now (because I could have just shut up about how it’s not true that all the effort is one-sided, but I got a bit piffed about him not recognizing that I was even trying, so it turned into an argument). But damn, that was a mistake, I’ve decided not going to take what he said personally, and I just want to move on and help the poor guy out. For REAL.
Obviously my methods are not working, so I need some new ideas of what to say, do, etc. that might actually make a difference. Something that will make a difference to HIM.
I’ve been asking him questions trying to get an idea of how he ACTUALLY is. I know that he’s depressed, upset, and stressed out by the family drama, but I don’t know exactly how severe it is. When he tells me he’s not feeling the greatest, I ask him if he wants to talk about it, but he rarely does. It’s usually the same vague answer, which has kind of left me at many dead ends with the ideas of what to say next.
I don’t know if it’s alright to just delve in with “big” questions. I don’t even know if I SHOULD be asking him questions at all, or if I should be trying to get his mind off of the entire topic, or what. I am so lost, and the only feedback I’ve gotten from my BF is when he tells me that something isn’t helping at all. That, of course, is not helpful to me, either.
So, I guess what I need from you bees is some ideas. ANYTHING you might have to offer will be appreciated – just how should I go about making him feel better about the entire situation? How can I get him to talk to me without being super vague? Will getting him to talk to me even help him, or will it stress him out more? Are there things I can DO to show him that I’m there for him? And once he finally does let me know a specific thing that’s bothering him, how do I go about giving him a perspective that might ease the grief? I know I definitely do have some good poiints to offer him, but he has to be in the right mindset to accept them, sometimes. Also, should I be leading the way with the emotional healing, or should I let HIM lead, and go at his pace?
And now, I have a few specific things that he’s told me that I have absolutely no clue how to respond to, but they are things that (I think) do need to be addressed:
1) His mother was a smoker. She had lung cancer which metastasized to brain cancer, which is what killed her. She had been diagnosed in April, but didn’t tell ANYONE until the end of June, when she started having seizures because of the bain tumor. She continued smoking all the way up until she was in the hospital for the last week of life. My BF believes that she deliberately let herself die. She was a music and modern dance artist, and he told me that she once said that “Artists aren’t appreciated until after their death.” I’m finding myself agreeing that it probably WAS deliberate. But I can’t say that to him, can I? What CAN I say to that?
2)He is estranged from his birth mother (he was raised by the woman who was his grandmother, but he called his mom). His family gave his birth mother his address and contact information against his wishes, which he was very upset about, especially since it happened literally an hour after she died. His birth mother did NOT come to the funeral, which my BF has said was extremely f-ed up. I agree that it was messed up, but I also think it might have been a good thing because the birth mother not showing up might mean that she won’t want to pursue a relationship with my BF. Can I say that to him, or would it be completely wrong and upsetting?
3) At the funeral, he was told by multiple people what a great, accomplished person he is, which I know he felt really awkward about. He also told me that he felt he was being treated like the “golden child” because he was the closest person to his mom out of everyone else in the family. In this case, would it be alright for me to reinforce the good things they said about him, even though it was an uncomfortable situation coming from people he doesn’t really consider “family”? What can/should I say about him feeling uncomfortable being the center of attention in that circumstance?
Of course I wouldn’t address these things out of the blue, it would have to be in context.
So, a recap of what I’m hoping for: some general advice on how to be there for him. How to make him see that I am making an effort to help him. Ways of going about addressing the things he brings up without me being too pushy. Ways of bringing things up, MYSELF, when it seems necessary, without the conversation topic being a cruel surprise. Any other random insight on how to be around a person in mourning. And then the three things I just listed.
Sorry for the novel. Hopefully my paragraphs make this readable. Thank you to everyone with something to input!