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Partner grieving the loss of his Mother, how to help him?

(18 Posts)
squirrel3 Fri 24-Apr-09 18:59:23

I met my partner nearly a year ago but his mother lived in Scotland and I live the other end of the country in Kent so we never got to meet.

I was supposed to met her a few weeks ago but I had to cancel because my son was very ill and had to have tests (including a bone marrow biopsy etc).

Sadly his mother had an accident and passed away a week after I was supposed to meet her. My partner flew up to Scotland straight away. I wanted to be there for him at the funeral but he said he didn't want me there. I thought this was very 'odd' and I felt as if he was pushing me out.

He has come home but he still shutting me out, yet at he same time he is angry because he feels I am not there for him and I "don't understand." After all as he says "I didn't know her", he blames me for not going up to Scotland to meet her and "it would be different if I had met her".

It is so hard to know what to do, he went back to work today and I am so worried for him. He is a paramedic and the very nature of his work is hard at the best of times but atm it will be hard for him.

I have suggested we plant a small tree or rose in her memory in a large pot as he can't visit her grave (because of the distance) but his daughter had already suggested it.

Its hard because I never met her, I want to be able to say "Do you remember the time..." but I can't.

I want to feel 'involved' I want him to know I care so much and I feel his loss (if he is hurting so am I). I want to encourage him to talk about her, to share his memories of her. I really don't know what to do to make him understand I am part of this too and I am here for him, but he is shutting me out.

Sorry this is long, I think I needed to get a lot of this off my chest.

divedaisy Fri 24-Apr-09 22:03:27

squirrel3 - have you told him what you have just told us?? It is hard to know what the right thing is - there never is a right thing to do! All you can do is to continue to suport him quietly and to let him know you are there for him.
You aren't to blame for not meeting his mum - you had your own seriously worrying situation (how is your son??) and how could you fore-see the accident that would kill her? IMO you made the right choice at the time to deal with your son's issues as priority.
I hope over time he willbe able to talk to you about her and you will get to know part of what she was like through his memories. I like the idea of the rose bush/tree - does it matter who suggested it? Can you all not do it together?

Are you getting the support too from him regarding your son? You need it too... xx

squirrel3 Sat 25-Apr-09 07:02:59

Thank you for your reply, I have told him how I feel but he is still grieving and won't let me 'in'. He is incredibly sad and angry at me for 'not being there' for him. I am trying so hard to be there but he won't let me.

My son also had to have a CT scan a few days after the bone marrow biopsy, he is still ill but we haven't heard anything from the hospital so I am keeping everything crossed that no news is good news. He has an appointment with the consultant in July (I know, its a long time but it was the only appointment available, the consultant said he would call if he thought he needed to see him sooner). All we know about his illness is it is some sort of blood disorder, he has some swollen lymph nodes in his neck and groin, he is losing so much weight, has no energy and his immune system is not working properly, you can see why we are worried but it has been 3 weeks since the tests though so hopefully..

About the rose, I think he will do it with his daughter. She is so upset about losing her Grandma, I think he will want to do it with just her, after all 'I didn't know her' as I keep getting told.

I know it is stil early days in the grieving proccess and I will still try my hardest to support him and my son too (my son is scared about what is wrong with him and is understandably frightened of what the results might be).

squirrel3 Sat 25-Apr-09 08:57:23

I have thought about getting a photo album in memory of her. I have found somewhere that will 'customise' the front in gold lettering.

I am thinking of having put on the front;


someone you love becomes a memory,
memory becomes a treasure.

We can both fill it with photographs he has of her, what do you think? I am so frightened of doing the wrong thing right now, so would like some advice on this please.

squirrel3 Sat 25-Apr-09 09:13:14

Please? Anyone?

I would like to order it today but it seems that everything I am doing at the moment is wrong. I don't know if I am making bad judgements or if it is because of his grief.

janestillhere Sat 25-Apr-09 09:15:16

I think that's a lovely idea. Do it.

I lost my mum a year ago and still feel very raw and sad.

When I first moved in with my dh he didn't want pictures of his dead mum on display as it still felt raw to him, but now we have lots of bits of memories around in frames.

Be led by him. It's a terrible time. x

squirrel3 Sat 25-Apr-09 09:18:03

Thank you, it is an awful time for us.

Do you think it is to soon though? I am trying to be led by him but it is hard to know what to do.

janestillhere Sat 25-Apr-09 09:20:19

I think you should order it. Then even if you think it may be abit soon, you can put it away for a few weeks or even months until emotions are calmer.

Then when you feel the time is right, you have it there to gently add memories and photos to it over the years. x

squirrel3 Sat 25-Apr-09 09:22:58

Thank you, I will order it.

We can add photographs when he feels ready.

Thank you

shootfromthehip Sat 25-Apr-09 09:31:51

I think that grief can be very competitive as you try and take ownership of the the person you have lost to control the grieving.

I lost my Dad nearly 18mths ago and it was horrible as my Mum did the whole 'you don't understand' bit despite it being my dad. I just had to back off and keep agreeing with her that I couldn't imagine what she was going through.

Grief is so scary because it is one of the most powerful emotions you can have. It almost makes you a teenager when you think that no-one has ever felt the way you feel. When enough time passes your DP will stop being so touchy about it but in the mean time my advice would be to say very little and merely say how regretful you are that you didn't met her rather than being defensive for not meeting her. You do have a good enough reason for not meeting her and have to know that you might not be able to convince him of that because he is not thinking clearly. My own DH couldn't win when my dad died either: I knew that he had not been through this and was resentful that he didn't realise just how bad it was. But that was unreasonable of me as why would I want him to be able to relate to what I was going through- I would probably have resented that too!

You have to accept that he will lash out, not because you didn't meet her but because he is devastated. Listen, let him talk, be understanding when he lashes out, step back when you have to and tell him that you regret not meeting her but don't engage in anything more difficult than that as I can guarentee he'll not handle it and may well be looking for a focus for his anger and frustration and you don't want to be it!

Good luck and much love

squirrel3 Sat 25-Apr-09 09:38:43

Thank you, I have told him I wish I had met her and I would love to 'get to know her' through him when he is ready to talk.

I know when he wakes up after the night shift he may be in a completely different 'place', I am aware that grief has so many 'faces'.

Thank you for your kind words and support.

MuffinBaker Sat 25-Apr-09 09:42:32

I think the book sounds like a lovely idea and my bit of advice woul dbe to do it and then give it to him, don't ask him if he wants you to do it.

squirrel3 Sat 25-Apr-09 09:46:01

I had thought of asking him if he wanted me to be with him while he looked through the photographs but also saying that it was ok if it was something he wanted to do himself.

squirrel3 Sat 25-Apr-09 09:47:35

I just want him to know that I am there for him.

divedaisy Mon 27-Apr-09 17:22:51

squirrel3 - the photo memory book is a gorgeous idea! I love making up photo albums that really tell a story - I gave one to my hubby on our 10th wedding anniversary and continue to add special memories to it along with captions, pix our ds has done etc.

shootfromthehip - I'm sorry to hear about your dad too. It is true that grief has many faces. My dh lost his dad about 14 months ago and he seems to have dealt with his dad's death well - he knew and accepted (as best one can) that his dad was dying of cancer before his dad passed away. So by the time of his death he had most of his bereavement processed. That in total contrast with his brother that even refused to admit that his dad was dying of cancer - he was going to die of 'something else'.

The biggest factor about your partners grief is the fact that his mum's death happened so suddenly - I think that's the first part of his process is to try and accept the suddenness of it. He maybe feels cheated out of being able to say good bye to her, guilt that he didn't visit her more often, and anger that this has happened 'to him'. It will take time for him to get through the grief stages or It has taken my BIL 14 months to agree to sell the family home. Unfortunately you also need help and support because of your concerns over your sons health. Hopefully you will both be a support to each other over the coming months.

You could try contacting cruse or look up or yellow pages for bereavement councelling in your area - even to get advice from them on how best to support your dp.

THinking of you xx

whitecloud Tue 28-Apr-09 13:20:10

Squirre3 - so sorry you are in this difficult situation. I lost both my parents within a year of each other - my Mum died last June. From the point of view of the grieving one, you can have really irrational feelings. It can be very lonely living with someone who has not experienced what you have and doesn't understand how you feel. I know my dh somehow feels he should be able to fix things so I'll feel better. What happened to you was so sad - your partner might well be irrationally blaming you because you didn't get a chance to meet his mother. I know I feel irrationally resentful when I am with dh's family - I felt dreadful at Christmas because they were all together and our family never could be agian. We can't help our feelings, hard though it is.

He will be feeling very shocked because he couldn't say goodbye. My Dad was slightly ill one minute and then floored competely by a brain tumour which meant that he didn't know any of us. It is awful when you can't say goodbye and you feel (irrationally again) very guilty. Until very recently I used to think I would ring my parents and then have the awful shock that they weren't there any more. It has taken me nearly a year to get to the point where I wish I could ring them and realise that I can't. The shock to the system is awful.

You are doing your best - I really hope your son's condition is improving. It's true that grief takes different people in different ways - so true.

Justme32 Mon 22-Jun-09 00:18:05

Hi squirrel3,

I just wanted to say Hello as I am kind of in the same situation as you.

My boyfriend lost him mum recently and I really want to be there for him and help him through this. Like you, I never got the chance to meet her and feel that rather than letting me in, he is pushing me away.

I cannot imagine what he is going through, I have absolutely no idea as I have not lost a parent but it's almost as if he wants to hurt me emotionally, which I can kind of understand but at the same time I find very hurtful because all I want to do is try and be there for him and support him.

I am just really looking for someone to talk to about this and I also hope that your sons test results all came back ok.

Tortington Mon 22-Jun-09 01:21:22

can i ask about his dad or siblings?

becuase you can feel awfully lonely - een if you have got kids.

i think the best thing to do is just ask - Do you want me to come with you, do you want me to do x,y,z.

and if faced with "you didn't know her!" quietly reply "no, but i know you and i love you, its you i am there for. I want to be the support - the scaffolding that holds you whilst you grieve. ou think of her, i am thinking of you"

you must allow him the space to grieve whilst doing other things to enable him to do so - after all life goes on and what you don't want to sort out is the overdraft or the gas bill or any other mundanity of life - becuase it seems so insignificant - a harsh intruder on events. how very dare life go on!

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