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Girlfriend breaks up after death of her grandfather

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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. 





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17 hours ago, hopefulromantic said:

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

This gives mixed messages which literally yanks you around emotionally.  This is one reason a no contact period is customary after a break up.  It protects the love you have for her while allowing the pain to die down and gives you clarity.  It helps you be in a better state to move forward whether with or without her in your life.

No contact period should be months, not weeks though.  Two weeks isn't enough time for you to heal to any extent and your emotion is still high.

18 hours ago, hopefulromantic said:

She clearly still misses me and has lots of affection for me.

I would go by what she does, not what she says.  Actions speak louder than words.  She is mixed up and at this point does not know what she wants.  Grief is clearly affecting her.  She wants you waiting in the wings but doesn't want a relationship either, but you can't have it both ways, that's not fair or reasonable for you.


18 hours ago, hopefulromantic said:

feeling the guilt that I'm not getting enough affection from her is the root cause of all this.

That is part of it.  A certain percentage of grievers do respond this way.  They can't do a relationship at the same time as finding their way through their grief.  Unfortunately, it can take a long time to process their grief, years even.  

I would not continue waiting/hoping for anything to change with her.  My fiance of a year broke up with me when his mom was dying...we had no contact for several months, when we resumed he yanked me around emotionally as he was a mess and didn't know his own mind.  I set aside any hope of resuming relationship and was a friend to him.  In the years since I've realized that things did work out for the best.  I would not want a partner who would not go through thick and thin with me.  In life there are guaranteed losses, troubles, and I would want someone I could partner with through them, not get shut out or broken up with.  You've been wonderful and you deserve more.  I think she realizes that too.

I am so sorry for all you are going through.  I assume you've read some of the threads in this section from your statement about "most break ups" and if so, you'll notice a pattern.  Maybe one out of hundreds made it as a couple afterwards.  

It's a shock, it's very painful at first, but you will get through this, so long as you do what you need to do to help yourself through it.  Let her take care of her, you take care of you.

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  • 1 month later...


I would just like to say that I'm on the same boat. My relationship of over four years ended due to my (ex)-boyfriend's loss of his mother to cancer. If you'd like, you can read my post about it on my page. I personally find that reading other people's stories, who have situations similar to mine, really helps to bring down my anxiety and relieve me of any feeling that it might be my fault. My SO also asked for space during his time of grieving, but the interesting thing is that he didn't start "grieving" until about a couple of months after his mother's death (we were still together when she actually died). It's like when his grieving finally hit him, it hit him hard and he felt that he was incapable of being there for someone (relationship wise) because he could hardly be there for himself. For me, it has been almost four months since the break up, and I actually am going through something similar as you. From the time he ended things, he wanted his space yes, but there was never a week in which he would not contact me at all. At most, he would go two days without a peep, but then would resume talking to me regularly. I've found that in the past couple of months, he wanted to talk and see me regularly. We'd go out to eat or see a movie a few times a week, and I, too, would get mixed signals. Sometimes he'd call me "beautiful" or "love," and sometimes he'd kiss my forehead before saying goodbye. It's just strange you know. It's like he wants me around but is not capable of maintaining a relationship that requires expectations and demands. It actually hurts a lot for me and is confusing. I have tried no contact, but he just ends up coming back (we're neighbors). I, too, and struggling with completely moving on without the thought of being there for him at the back of my mind. It's tough man. But you're not alone. 

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12 hours ago, Tisu said:

I personally find that reading other people's stories, who have situations similar to mine, really helps to bring down my anxiety and relieve me of any feeling that it might be my fault.

I'm glad that has helped you; when I went through it I didn't know this was a thing.  My now-ex-fiance was in anticipatory grief when he suddenly broke up with me, he was taking care of his mom, who was dying.

It'd be much better for you to go no-contact even if you have to move, so you can heal.  The mixed signal thing is hard and unfair to you.  

I wouldn't say this is anyone's "fault", their minds don't have clarity while in heavy grief.  What I found interesting is they didn't discard their friends, just us.

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1 hour ago, kayc said:

What I found interesting is they didn't discard their friends, just us.

The effort required to maintain a friendship is never the same as the time and level of commitment ~ nevermind the vulnerability and the risks of rejection ~ that we invest in an intimate love relationship. I think the differences serve to explain, to some extent at least, why this happens . . .

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On 11/29/2019 at 1:33 AM, Tisu said:

I personally find that reading other people's stories, who have situations similar to mine, really helps to bring down my anxiety and relieve me of any feeling that it might be my fault. 

Exactly! Yes Tisu I have indeed read your post and almost all posts on this website that have similar stories. I do find myself coming back to reading the stories on days when I'm feeling down about my love life. Perhaps it's human nature to feel better when knowing you're not alone going through something so difficult. 

Just to give a bit of an update, my girlfriend and I are in this 'grey zone' like you mentioned as well. I don't try and message/call her on my own initiative (as tempting as it may be at times) but when she contacts me (it's been about once every 2 weeks or so), I don't deliberately ignore it. Reason being is she's been my best friend for at least a year or 2 before we got together and she's away from family just like me (we're overseas students), and if there's anything important or if she's in trouble I can't just ignore it and let her be. We check up on each other during these calls and she still asks me if I miss her and says she does too. She even accidentally called me 'honey' yesterday, but of course I'm not thinking too much of it. I've realised the best thing to do is to focus on other interests/work and hang out with friends but also be nice to her like a friend if she contacts me. I've found this to be my happy medium since we've not completely drifted apart but at the same time since you're not contacting your SO on your own accord, it gives you the confidence that you don't absolutely NEED someone to function normally (having them can and should make your life better/beautiful yes, but not having them shouldn't permanently make you feel you can't function). Of course I have my bad days too (the memories, the pain of missing her and temptation to just ring her up), but on those days I have my coping mechanisms like coming to this forum, listening to my favourite music, working out etc. etc.



I don't think grievers need to be repeatedly reminded that we love them and that we are happy to have them back. I'm sure they already know that (especially if you both had a beautiful relationship prior to all this), and the problem is they're incapable of feeling connected or feeling of being in love with you. If she wants this, she will come on her own. I know at least for the time being I'm not keen on looking for love elsewhere since I'm emotionally worn out and still in love with her, so that option wouldn't feel right.  


If anyone else reading this is having trouble not contacting your SO or wanting to keep telling them how bad you feel or begging them to take you back, here's something that really helps me. I always think if the actions I'm about to do are going to change the chances of my desired outcome. For example, repeatedly telling them how miserable you feel or talking to them in a bitter/guilt-inducing way is in almost no way increasing your chances of getting back with them. It just increases their guilt and may not give room for them to think of the good times you both had and miss those instead. It is said that a person's memory of an event and how they feel about it is affected by two main things (the peak/best parts of an event and the end of an event).


Before the breakup between my girlfriend and I, just knowing that I'm there hoping for a normal relationship with her was stressful for her. So considering that, I avoid talking even about possibly getting back together with her now. I just show care and concern and am nice to her when she reaches out (just as a good friend would), nothing more. I think the best chance I have to get back with her at some point would be to give this relationship up for now, stop bringing up the topic of a shared future with her, but at the same time let her contact me when she absolutely needs to and be nice to her as a good friend would. If she wants a relationship with me at some point, let her do it on her own accord (not out of me guilt-tripping her or playing the victim card). If she chooses to move on with someone else, perhaps that would be a painful yet good final closure for me, since I'd know almost nothing else I could have done would have changed the outcome of our relationship 🙂 Ultimately the only person's actions you control is yours. So let's do that well.





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The one thing you don't want to do is prolong the agony of how long you continue hurting.

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  • 2 years later...

Thought I'd provide an update of how things turned out. My ex just got engaged to someone else a few weeks ago. Hurts but feels like a much-needed closure at the same time.

It's funny because prior to her granddad passing away, she and I were going to introduce each other to our parents and have had so many dreams together about our wedding, kids, house, growing old together etc. And now it sorta feels someone else has nabbed the spot that should've been mine. It's also partly "where's my happy ending? Why's she so happy, while I've not got someone else to spend my life with".

Ah well, at least now it's clear I shouldn't hold on to thoughts about whether or not we may get back together in the future etc. and to accept that my future will be with someone else. She was upset when I said I'd prefer to cease all contact with her from now on, but have told her that if there's ever a situation where she's in a bad place and needs to talk to me, I'm here.

Currently, it feels like Round 2 of grieving the relationship, but perhaps slightly less painful. There are good and bad days but overall it's trending in the right direction and I'm starting feeling better.

To those who've had relationships they treasured end due to bereavement of your SO's loved one, there are no words brothers and sisters, and my heart goes out to you (with a virtual hug ☺️). Stay strong and as painful as it is, I'm sure we'll all get through this and create & build something beautiful with someone else. Thank you all for sharing your stories on this forum. Words can't describe how much comfort it provided me, knowing that someone out there went through something similar and feels similar emotions of pain.

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I'm sorry, I  know it feels like it struck all over again, kind of how I felt when my ex took his XW in because she'd have been homeless, even though I understand, they're pretty much a couple now even though he hasn't come out and said it...to him that'd feel too much like confrontation, which he avoids at any cost, to me it would just be being honest.  They do everything together and it's been a few years now, I hold no illusions and haven't since a few months into this.

You will heal in time and I hope you find your person.  Me, I haven't been looking but know how to spot a good one if I see him...so far it looks like I'll be alone for life.  I've lived alone 17 years since my husband died (come June), kind of used to it but it sure wasn't my preference.  Not into online dating, etc. though. ;)  Good luck to you!

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