It's quite a large chunk so I've broken it up with bolded headers to hopefully make it more readable
My girlfriend of nearly 2 years (she's 23 I'm 25 and we're both studying overseas from our home countries) just broke up with me several days back. Her granddad (who she's very close to and sees him as her own father) has had deteriorating health for the past 2-3 years due to heart problems. When we got together I was definitely aware of this and was her source of comfort and shoulder to cry on when he had some repeated episodes of hospital admissions. He made it through all of those and my girlfriend and I would go on as per normal. We were extremely close and compatible and were more or less in a live-in relationship (I had my own place but most of the time we'd stay tgt at either one of our places). We were both certain about getting engaged and married and have always had deep loving chats and dreams about the details of the future we would have with each other after we're married. We have never gone a day without texting/calling. She's an extremely affectionate, empathetic, loyal (relationship wise and otherwise), and overall means well for people even for people who have not treated her the best. In the end of last year, her granddad had another admission to hospital. He was getting treated and was expected to get better soon. Then we heard the unexpected news that he collapsed due to a cardiac arrest in the hospital ward. They did not manage to revive him and was pronounced dead.
Post-death of grandpa and her asking for space/time alone
I was with my girlfriend throughout this episode where she had to fly out of the country for her granddad's funeral etc. When she came back things were still fine, although obviously she was very upset and missed her granddad dearly. Our relationship was still as robust as ever. A couple of months later during the Christmas break, she and her family went back to her grandparents' house to spend time with her widowed grandmother. We texted and called as per normal and showed each other lots of affection & love verbally. She did mention it was not as pleasant being in her grandparents' place since it amplified the loss she felt. When she got back I asked her how she was. She texted saying that she wants to come over to my place and talk in detail. Later that day she mentioned that she's feeling disconnected from people including me and asked me if we could stop staying over at each other's places at least for awhile, because she felt she needed some space. She was extremely upset even saying this but I readily agreed since I knew this was something to do with her grief and wanted to provide anything she felt would let her get better. She almost teared up saying "what did I do to deserve a love like yours".
This space went on for roughly 6-7 months with several meetups at her house here and there. We texted and called every day however. She always checked up on how I was and usually felt apologetic because she thought it was not fair to me that she couldn't be as intimate with me as we had been before the Christmas break. I always reassured her that this was just a tough phase in our relationship that should be crossed and told her not to worry about me and that I'm handling university work fine and keeping busy with other interests. She still mentioned that she just felt very disconnected and emotionally drained (her family was going through some financial trouble which was causing her some anxiety). I helped her financially throughout that period taking on things like her living expenses etc. which she was definitely grateful about. She always called me her 'angel' and mentioned that she feels so guilty and upset she wasn't able to put in as much into this relationship as I was.
Her asking for a break but yet continuing to contact and check up on me daily
During the 7th month, due to our differing university schedules, she was just about to go home for a 3 month holiday while I still had classes. Before she flew back, we met and she told me that she was very worried why things weren't getting better and why her feelings of disconnectedness were not going away despite several months passing by. I assured her saying that we should not rush it or put a deadline to things. She understood but then asked if I would be okay with taking a break during these 3 months she was back at home with parents. I was of course upset since it seemed like a downward progression from where we began, but I eventually said okay because I wanna do what's best for her. I told her I wouldn't text/call her on my own during the 3 months. She insisted that she still wanted to call/text me though and not do a complete no-contact. I agreed. Through these 3 months she checked up with me daily through texts, called me once every 3-4 days and updated me on how she was spending time with her family while she was back home including sending videos/photos. She also asked if I could start texting her daily when I reached home safe (she said not knowing if I was safe was causing her some anxiety).
Her saying we should break up
Now at the time when I'm posting this, the 3 months is almost up and she's about to fly back to where we study again. Just 4 days ago, during a call (what I thought would have been a normal call), she told me that during the 3 months she felt the bond with her family, has learnt to better cope with her grief over her grandad and her stress about family finances etc. have been more manageable but she realised that the thought of having to maintain our relationship has been causing the same stress and pressure. She says she's been feeling very guilty (about having me wait for her, and her not being a good partner to me for these several months) and has been trying very hard to revive the immense love she had for me, but a sense of guilt and feeling of being 'trapped' comes over her. She was in tears even saying all this and she said it's best if we had a break up because she wants me to be with someone who'll make me happy. She kept asking me not to hate her, but of course I told her 'how could I ever? You gave me the best 2 years of my entire life'. I agreed to the break up since I wanted her to be happy too and not continue being stressed/pressured at the awareness of me waiting for her and expecting our relationship to go back to normal. We also talked about meeting up in roughly 2 weeks' time at her place to talk about this in person after she's back here.
For the 2 days that followed, she continued texting me calling me 'honey' etc. and checking up on how I'm feeling and checking up on how I'm doing as per usual, although she did mention she considers us broken up. On the 3rd day, when she called me on the phone, after checking up on each other and talking about each other's day, I told her that I felt it's good if we stopped texting or calling each other for some time because I need time to think and process. I didn't quite expect it but her voice suddenly sank and she said 'so that's us broken up huh' and here and there she mentioned that 'maybe I'm right' (although I could tell she was very disappointed). She said something like 'if I choose to do anything with another woman now, she'd forgive me'. She also (in a sweet way) told me never to revive/re-enact some of our inside jokes we had during our relationship when I get into a relationship with another woman that's not her. I also consoled her that even though we're letting go now it does not mean we won't ever be back together. 'If we're meant to be, we'll be back together at some point in the future'. She did not raise any objections about that and it did seem to make her feel better too.
The next day I get a call from her in the evening, while I'm at a friend's place for dinner. I'm about to attend the call and it gets cut after several seconds. She then texts apologising that she accidentally called and then asks me if I'm fine and if possible text her the next day when I safely reach this new nearby city I'm heading to (I had special classes scheduled in a different city for 2 weeks). I agree and I tell her 'don't worry, you're not the only one who's finding this hard, but I think I need this time and space and I think it's good for you to reflect and think too'. She proceeds to message how much she misses me (with lots of tearful emojis etc.etc.) but she agrees to give me the space I requested. She also says she could never go back to calling me my actual name and still calls me 'honey' or this cute (according to her) nickname she created for me when we were together (little embarrassing to reveal the name here).
I'm just looking for advice on what might be good to do/look out for at this stage. I'm planning to keep up the no-contact for the next 2 weeks until we meet in person when she flies here. I might continue the no-contact after that too but haven't thought too much yet. I have to see how the in-person meetup goes.
I know I have to accept there's a chance this relationship (as beautiful as it was) may not work. But contrary to lots of break ups due to grief, she continued fighting for the relationship and kept in contact/checked up for many many months despite her emotional disconnect (she's always been one heck of a loyal/emotionally strong woman, even before this episode). She clearly still misses me and has lots of affection for me. If at this point everything else in her life including the grief seem to have become manageable, I'm wondering if it was simply the guilt that was hindering her to rediscover the immense love she had for me. Perhaps trying to force it out and at the same time feeling the guilt that I'm not getting enough affection from her is the root cause of all this. I'm just wondering if maybe this breakup is the key to relieve that guilt (since she knows I'm free to find someone else), and perhaps let her start feeling that she wants to be with me and take care of me because of her own decision/love and not just the guilt of knowing I'm waiting patiently for her and her innate need to never let anybody down.