The intense emotions that come with grief can be all-consuming. When a loved one is grieving over a loss, whether it's loss of a family member, friend, pet or job, it's natural to want to offer care and love in an effort to make him feel better. Don't take it personally when your boyfriend asks for some time alone. A healthy mixture of support and space lets your boyfriend know you're there if he needs you while allowing him space to grieve.
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Choose your words carefully. Often, well-meaning people say the wrong thing to those who are grieving, and unintentionally make the person feel pressured about ending the grieving process too soon. Express your sorrow over your boyfriend's loss, tell him you care and ask how you can help.
Offer your boyfriend practical support so he can get out of the house alone. Take care of pets, water plants or help with his children to give him a few hours alone each day.
Respect your boyfriend's wishes to be alone. It's important for a grieving person not to completely withdraw and isolate from others as support can help them deal with loss. But an occasional need for space isn't harmful, and you can express your love and support by listening and respecting your boyfriend's need to spend a little bit of time alone.
Tips and warnings
- Check in with your boyfriend periodically, through a phone call, text message or by stopping by. Let him know you're there if he needs to talk or just wants someone to sit with him.
- Watch for any warning signs, such as neglecting hygiene, talking about suicide or inability to function. While a little space is understandable, if it is coupled with any warning signs, your boyfriend may need professional support.
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- HelpGuide; Supporting a Grieving Person; Melinda Smith et al; March 2011
- PBS; Grief and Loss: Offering Support to the Bereaved: What Not to Say; Camille Wortman
- HelpGuide; Coping With Grief and Loss; Melinda Smith et al; March 2011
- University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center: Grief and Loss