These practical and emotional tips will help you comfort and console your boyfriend after his mom or dad dies. The most important thing to remember is that your boyfriend’s grieving process isn’t the same as yours.
Not only do you and your boyfriend grieve in different ways, you also experience different emotions after a parent’s death. Give your boyfriend time and space to feel shock, helplessness, confusion and even anger after his mom or dad dies. The grieving process is confusing and scary; the unpredictable and powerful emotions aren’t easy to handle – much less express.
I was inspired to write this article for a reader. “My boyfriend just lost his mother, we are in a long distance relationship,” says Brittany on How to Comfort and Console Your Grieving Boyfriend. “Sending a sympathy care package seems like a great idea. I try to be available as much as possible, but my schedule is crazy. His siblings aren’t doing well at all, his sister is the hospital sick with cancer. I’m not sure if she knows her mother passed away. I don’t know his sisters well, we meet years ago. What can I do to help my boyfriend get through his mom’s death?”
Don’t pressure yourself to take away your boyfriend’s pain or grief. He needs to grieve. The grieving process is painful, but it’s a healthy and natural way to cope with a parent’s death. Your boyfriend may not grieve the way you do, or think you would if your mom or dad died.
Your boyfriend may not even be openly or visibly going through the grieving process. This is okay. Let him grieve his way. Give your boyfriend space and time to process his parent’s death in his own way, at his own pace.
Helping Your Boyfriend After He Loses His Mom or Dad
Here are some of the most thoughtful yet practical ways to help when your boyfriend’s parent dies, either unexpectedly or after a long illness.
Talk to other women who experienced a similar situation
When you reach out to and learn from women in person, you’ll get ideas and support you can’t find online. Ask your friends and family what they did when their boyfriends or husbands lost parents. Learn about the variety of experiences and reactions. This will help ease your own discomfort, your own feelings of “my boyfriend’s dad died and I don’t know what to do” or “my boyfriend’s mom is sick and dying.”
Here’s what one of my She Blossoms readers said in an email to me:
“My boyfriend lost his dad almost a month ago and he is not able to cope with the death or his father’s things yet. I talked to my boss at work because I knew her husband’s dad died last year. My boss gave me a bunch of ideas for helping my boyfriend coping with death. It was helpful because her husband and my boyfriend actually know each other through their hockey team. My boyfriend is still grieving but I feel more helpful and supportive.”
Give your boyfriend time to mourn and grieve his loss
It takes months and sometimes years to heal after a parent’s death. If your boyfriend’s dad died recently, give him time and space to grieve. It takes a long time to go through the stages of mourning – and often, the grief we feel when a parent dies never really ends. It just dulls and fades a bit.
Let your boyfriend cry. It’s normal and very healthy for a man to cry when he loses his parents! It shows he’s in touch with his grief. Crying and grieving openly will help him heal much faster than if he was brave, stoic, and had a stiff upper lip.
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Remember that your boyfriend may not want to cry in front of you – or even at all! Let him grieve his dad or mom’s death his way. If he seems abnormally sad or depressed, read 5 Ways to Help Your Boyfriend Deal With Depression.
Help him cope in practical ways – especially after the funeral or memorial service
If your boyfriend is the eldest son, he may have more responsibilities than his siblings. He may have no idea what to do when a parent dies. If he has to plan his parent’s funeral or memorial, find out what needs to be done. Don’t do it for him; just get information about planning the funeral, preparing a eulogy, ordering flowers, telling family members, etc.
Other practical ways to help include bringing him home cooked meals, walking his dog, cleaning his apartment, buying groceries, mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, etc. If you’re in a long distant relationship, consider visiting him for a week to help him cope.
A widow once told me that the her worst, saddest, and most lonely time came after the rush of the funeral and memorial service was over. Before that she was busy with all the funeral preparations, sympathy cards, family visits, etc. But it was after all the dust settled that she really needed her friends and family members. That’s when her grief hit her hard.
One of the best ways to help your boyfriend after his mom or dad dies be there after the funeral is over. He won’t feel better after a week, or even a month. Expect him to take a long time to grieve the death of his parent.
Find a balance between supporting your boyfriend and giving him space to grieve
“I lost my father when I was a teenager,” says Duane on How to Survive the Grieving Process After an Unexpected Loss. “I really did want to be left alone. People always want to make you feel better, and sometimes you just want to feel the pain. Your boyfriend might appreciate you bringing him over some food or soup and just delivering it and then going away.”
When my grandma died, I just wanted to sleep. I didn’t want to talk or be with anyone. Your boyfriend is grieving the death of his parent, and needs time and space to feel the pain and figure out what to do. Don’t crowd him, and don’t expect him to “make progress.”
One of the best ways to help your boyfriend after a parent’s death is to let him grieve at his own pace, in his own way.
Encourage him to lean on God
Does your boyfriend believe in God? Here’s what one grief expert says:
“People who do best with loss believe in a higher power to see them through in hard times,” says bereavement counselor Rondi Lightmark. “A strong connection with the power of your ancestors also provides a sense of vision and ability to go forward. If your boyfriend does not have a faith, or if his faith is in deep question, he is also probably feeling pretty lost. The answer for this question is a deep inner search. Get quiet. Ask for help, even if you don’t know whom to ask.
Ask inwardly for help, even if you feel worthless. Be open to having an answer come to you. The universe is all about give and take–we give love and thanks, we receive and are blessed. Being immobile is like being not alive. So we have to keep moving, even if we don’t know what direction to go in.”
The death of your boyfriend’s mom or dad is a confusing, bewildering, sorrowful time in his life. Give him time to heal and grieve his way. Be there for him in gentle and non-intrusive ways.
Expect your boyfriend to have less time and energy for you
Be patient for at least a year. I know it seems like a long time for your boyfriend to grieve – and it is different for each person. Remember that losing a parent is traumatic. If you notice signs that are alarming or unhealthy – such as self-harm, extreme depression, long-term withdrawal – talk to someone who can help you decide if your boyfriend needs additional support.
Learn as much as you can about the grieving process. Read books like Please Be Patient With Me, I’m Grieving – How to Care for and Support the Grieving Heart by Gary Roe. The more knowledge you have about how your boyfriend feels after his mom or dad’s death, the less surprised and hurt you’ll be by his reaction to you.
Give your boyfriend a sympathy gift that encourages him to remember his parent
An “In Memory of Your Father” Comfort Candle is a beautiful symbol of your support and love – especially when you don’t know what to say to your boyfriend when his mom or dad died.
I love candles as sympathy gifts for men! They’re not feminine, but they are a source of light, hope, and life. And, many comfort candles have inspirational sayings.
This candle says, “Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.”
For more sympathy gift ideas for your boyfriend, read Heartwarming Sympathy Gifts for Someone Whose Parent Died.
May you find peace and comfort as you walk alongside your boyfriend through the grieving process. I pray for strength, wisdom, love and patience. I also pray that you build your own faith a little stronger through this; your relationship with God is a light and hope to others.