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I'm struggling to understand the grieving process my SO is experiencing. Any advice would be so helpful.

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For context I'm f/29 and he's m/32. I have been with my SO for a few months and we were in a pretty serious relationship to the point where we were planning on moving in together.

Then one day he kind of dropped off the radar and I later found out it was because it was the first anniversary of his father's passing, which I already knew, and he kind of started to spiral out of control. Now he's doing drugs frequently (mostly weed but sometimes coke) and telling me how much he hates doing them, that he's never really enjoyed doing drugs and doesn't know why he's doing it. He's been cancelling plans with me and apologizing profusely for that but is just kind of stuck in this tornado it seems. He said that I was one of the very few people he's let into his life but that he doesn't really know how to handle that, that it's not healthy to drag me down into his sadness but he said even me offering to help meant more to him than I could ever know. 

What I'm trying to figure out is how long something like this could typically last? I've been fortunate enough at 29 to have not had to go through the grieving process (knock on wood). Of course I know that it's a silly question and it's different for every person so something like a timeline is difficult to predict, I'm just having a hard time watching the man that I love self destruct from the sidelines and I don't really know what to do. 

Thank you so much for any help.

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This might help you some: 

https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2014/08/grief-understanding-process.html

http://griefhelp.webs.com/know-someone-grieving

A certain number of people withdraw or break up with their partner when grieving, it's like they can't do a relationship at the same time, all their focus is on their grief.  It affects a person greatly, making it hard to think straight, hard to function.  Grief doesn't have a definite ending, but it evolves.  It changes the person going through it.

It would help him if he'd go to a professional grief counselor.  Also, men and women's grief looks different.

https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2012/10/seeing-specialist-in-grief-counseling.html

https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2013/10/how-we-mourn-understanding-our.html

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Hi KayC,

Thank you so much for responding and those resources are so helpful. One question I have that I have gotten feedback from a different grief forum is this: I am hesitant to reach out because he doesn't respond much, doesn't really reach out to me very often at all and I feel like I'm pestering him. We haven't spoken in a week because I felt like I needed to give him space but all the members of the other group have said that no matter how frequently or infrequently he responds it's important to keep checking in on him so he doesn't feel abandoned by me when he needs me the most. That he may just simply not have the energy to respond but it still means a lot to him for me to show that I care. Do you think this is also the right move? I'm just nervous about pushing him further away...

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I understand what they're saying, but there is no perfect answer because there's no perfect move.  In other words, if he's going absent on you, there is NOTHING you can do about it.  Contacting him more can be construed as pressure and can be more apt to cause him to make a final break.  While it's possible he'll feel abandoned if you're not contacting him, it's also not likely if you are taking your cues from him.  I have read each and every post in the threads in "Loss of Love Relationship" section and when you read them all, you see a pattern.  You see Griever breaking up and Partner doing everything known to man to be there for them, give them space, show interest, etc. and no matter what they do, they're damned if they do, damned if they don't.  In other words, grievers can be very thin skinned and sensitive and their perspective skewed and they can find fault no matter how perfectly we try to respond to them.  I would say respect his wishes, take your cues from him.  Understand there are no guarantees your relationship will survive intact.  If/when that happens, realize it is him, not you, seriously!

He hasn't made a clean break as of yet but it looks like he's headed that way, you can't know for sure, but it looks like the usual pattern.   Don't appear needy or make any demands on him right now.  On the other hand, this is a hard position to be in and no relationship can survive totally one sided for long, so understand that if you need more out of a relationship, it may be time to move on.  I say that not because I don't care about the griever, but because I've seen too many of them enter their cocoon to never emerge to their partner and it ends up that way anyway and because I know how important it is for you to do what is ultimately best for YOU.  Grievers can be incredibly self-centered...I can say that because I have been a griever, I've seen much grief and I'm not trying to put down grievers, it's merely an observance of what happens when loss occurs, their world becomes in-drawn out of necessity, they're scrambling just to survive and they have nothing to give, nothing, they're are bereft emotionally, barely functioning.  As usual, you can't attribute this to everyone or every case/situation, it's an observance of many, that's all.

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1 hour ago, kayc said:

I understand what they're saying, but there is no perfect answer because there's no perfect move.  In other words, if he's going absent on you, there is NOTHING you can do about it.  Contacting him more can be construed as pressure and can be more apt to cause him to make a final break.  While it's possible he'll feel abandoned if you're not contacting him, it's also not likely if you are taking your cues from him.  I have read each and every post in the threads in "Loss of Love Relationship" section and when you read them all, you see a pattern.  You see Griever breaking up and Partner doing everything known to man to be there for them, give them space, show interest, etc. and no matter what they do, they're damned if they do, damned if they don't.  In other words, grievers can be very thin skinned and sensitive and their perspective skewed and they can find fault no matter how perfectly we try to respond to them.  I would say respect his wishes, take your cues from him.  Understand there are no guarantees your relationship will survive intact.  If/when that happens, realize it is him, not you, seriously!

He hasn't made a clean break as of yet but it looks like he's headed that way, you can't know for sure, but it looks like the usual pattern.   Don't appear needy or make any demands on him right now.  On the other hand, this is a hard position to be in and no relationship can survive totally one sided for long, so understand that if you need more out of a relationship, it may be time to move on.  I say that not because I don't care about the griever, but because I've seen too many of them enter their cocoon to never emerge to their partner and it ends up that way anyway and because I know how important it is for you to do what is ultimately best for YOU.  Grievers can be incredibly self-centered...I can say that because I have been a griever, I've seen much grief and I'm not trying to put down grievers, it's merely an observance of what happens when loss occurs, their world becomes in-drawn out of necessity, they're scrambling just to survive and they have nothing to give, nothing, they're are bereft emotionally, barely functioning.  As usual, you can't attribute this to everyone or every case/situation, it's an observance of many, that's all.

Hi Generic,

I echo everything KayC has already said. Having been a griever myself, feeling isolated and lost in the world, and then a few years later the dumpee of griever (what brought me to the forum). It is important to understand that it is not you, it is him. In my experience, nothing I could've said or done for him would've changed his mind about us. I gave him space when he asked, checked in on him, did my best to be understanding and be there for him when he asked, but, in the end none of it mattered because he cast me aside like our relationship never existed.

You cannot force him to bend to your wants/will, even if you're doing so out of love. There is no timeline for how long this could last, but I will say that you cannot expect your relationship to be the same after something like this, even if he does come back. This is his way of dealing with hardship, and it should be noted that this behavior (especially coupled with the drug use) could be a sign of more serious, deeper issues. And you are correct that it is not healthy for you. Please, do not wait around for him to come back and do not believe that sticking around for him during/after such neglect will be some sort of reward or prize that he "chose" you, or that he will even be grateful that you waited for him. He may come back to you, but you will always have that doubt that he may run off again, and that is not fair to you.

You said that you are only 29 and have been together a few months. You deserve better than to be an afterthought behind drugs and unhealthy behavior. It is not valiant, noble or praise worthy to subject yourself to such cruelty at the hands of another under the guise of love. I understand wanting to love a person through their bad times and be there for them, but if they are not allowing you to be their rock during a rough time, then there is nothing you can do. You have to love yourself enough to know when to walk away and do what is best for yourself. You're not much older than me, you have your whole life ahead of you still, please do not waste it waiting around for someone who doesn't already appreciate you. I personally would not be accepting of a person who felt it is appropriate to use drugs/substances as a coping mechanism for their problems, as those issues are personal and have nothing to do with their relationships. I implore you to ask yourself why you want to be with someone who so willingly and easily throws you away when times get tough, and why you want to stay with someone who feels its appropriate to resort to drug use to help them cope. That is not healthy for either of you, and could begin a cycle of enabling and co-dependency.

Just an observation from a girl who has been in a similar place, and who has had experience with addicts.

--Rae :)

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Hi Generic,

As someone who is only a few months removed from a similar situation, I'd strongly advise you heed the advice of KayC and Rae. I refused to do that at first, I stubbornly persisted with my hopes, checking on my ex in the background and trying to 'play all my cards right'. I wanted more than anything else for her to 'snap out' of the state that lead her to push me away, and only recently have I come to accept that it was not a state. It seems tragic events can change peoples feelings, for some it may be short term, but from what I've ready on this site, it's usually permanent. My ex also resorted to cocaine on a few occasions, and was not happy about it either. 

Finding something you think is real is not easy, and it's even more difficult to let it go. I refused to believe that my situation would follow the trend of the rest. That stubbornness to not give up on her and us destroyed me, and I'm still far from healed. A break up always hurts, but even more so if you, like me, feel like you were 'robbed' by fate and bad timing. As KayC and Rae tried to tell me (which I regret not taking for face value) is that the notion of 'right person, wrong time' is a fallacy.

It's my first time contributing to a post other than my own, but from my recent experience, this is what I would advise.

1. Don't ignore your gut feelings, I'd thought special circumstances like this would be exceptions and I gave my ex the benefit of the doubt, now I believe that circumstances like these, when our brains refuse to see what we don't want to, are exactly why we have them. I'm sure members of the other group mean well, but remember that these situations are unique. It seems the closer you are to the person, the more likely the backlash. I would trust my gut on this. 

2. You can't be there for someone who doesn't accept or want you there. This is a battle he has to fight, and one that he has opted to exclude you from.

3. Don't try to be a hero, you can't help anyone unless you look after yourself first. I was ok with being hurt so long as it meant helping someone I cared about, but I neglected myself in the process and I came off worse for it. It's hard to know what is going on in his mind, and why he has opted to behave this way. All you know is that he is.

and an important last one...

4. Decisions made in an emotionally fueled instant, are usually quickly reverted. Looking back at my ex's behavior leading up to when she isolated herself from me I can now see the signs that I chose to ignore at first. If you choose to wait, that's your choice, but if this isolation from you lasts longer than a few weeks, it is my opinion that it was a thought out decision, and those tend to be long term or permanent. 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Trey said:

Hi Generic,

As someone who is only a few months removed from a similar situation, I'd strongly advise you heed the advice of KayC and Rae. I refused to do that at first, I stubbornly persisted with my hopes, checking on my ex in the background and trying to 'play all my cards right'. I wanted more than anything else for her to 'snap out' of the state that lead her to push me away, and only recently have I come to accept that it was not a state. It seems tragic events can change peoples feelings, for some it may be short term, but from what I've ready on this site, it's usually permanent. My ex also resorted to cocaine on a few occasions, and was not happy about it either. 

Finding something you think is real is not easy, and it's even more difficult to let it go. I refused to believe that my situation would follow the trend of the rest. That stubbornness to not give up on her and us destroyed me, and I'm still far from healed. A break up always hurts, but even more so if you, like me, feel like you were 'robbed' by fate and bad timing. As KayC and Rae tried to tell me (which I regret not taking for face value) is that the notion of 'right person, wrong time' is a fallacy.

It's my first time contributing to a post other than my own, but from my recent experience, this is what I would advise.

1. Don't ignore your gut feelings, I'd thought special circumstances like this would be exceptions and I gave my ex the benefit of the doubt, now I believe that circumstances like these, when our brains refuse to see what we don't want to, are exactly why we have them. I'm sure members of the other group mean well, but remember that these situations are unique. It seems the closer you are to the person, the more likely the backlash. I would trust my gut on this. 

2. You can't be there for someone who doesn't accept or want you there. This is a battle he has to fight, and one that he has opted to exclude you from.

3. Don't try to be a hero, you can't help anyone unless you look after yourself first. I was ok with being hurt so long as it meant helping someone I cared about, but I neglected myself in the process and I came off worse for it. It's hard to know what is going on in his mind, and why he has opted to behave this way. All you know is that he is.

and an important last one...

4. Decisions made in an emotionally fueled instant, are usually quickly reverted. Looking back at my ex's behavior leading up to when she isolated herself from me I can now see the signs that I chose to ignore at first. If you choose to wait, that's your choice, but if this isolation from you lasts longer than a few weeks, it is my opinion that it was a thought out decision, and those tend to be long term or permanent. 

 

 

Trey, EXACTLY. So beautifully written. 

After a certain point, their behavior is a deliberate choice. I had to learn this the hard way with Tim too. Like you and Generic, and many others here, I wanted to be the exception, and believed that maybe with time, he'd see how "right" we were, even if the timing wasn't ideal. But I was foolish, in love and didn't want to admit I was wrong, and came out worse for it.

However, I'm glad you've realized it and have begun to heal yourself. It hurts, and it sucks having to walk away from something you believed was real because it's so hard to find. 

Generic, I hope you at least read these replies and do your best to follow your gut and heed the advice. I'm sorry if it's not what you want to hear, but we are all speaking from similar experiences.

--Rae

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