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New Relationship Upended by Tragic Death in Her Family


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I've read through a good bit of this forum, and see that it is full of thoughtful and caring people trying to ease the suffering of people that come here for help. You're all amazing.

Just a few months ago I met an amazing woman, and we hit it off right away. She soon discovered that her father's Parkinsons and dementia was taking a turn for the worst. I tried to be there for her as best I could, but she was really struggling with it. But our dates took her mind off things and we had a really great time together. We were totally in sync. But after about a month together, things felt out of sync one night, and when I brought it up, it was too much for her to handle and she needed to leave suddenly so she could go home and self-soothe. She explained to me the next morning that maybe she hadn't communicated just how much in crisis her world was right now. I felt that I was being self-centered and not realizing just how horrible her situation was. She said she didn't have emotional bandwidth to feel like she was coming up short for anyone. I apologized, and we were able to move past it.

I left town for the weekend, and while I was gone, she found out that they were going to be moving her father from a psychiatric ward where he was being evaluated, to a nursing home, and she needed to be there for the move. She left before I got back. I offered to fly somewhere along her drive so I could help her with the drive and see her. She said no. I offered to go to where her family was to be with her, and she said no. She said that the process could take a long time, and if it did, we could rendezvous somewhere for a weekend. Sure enough, her father's condition worsened. I talked to her every day, and each day it seemed like things kept getting worse and worse. I sent her flowers, and we spoke every day. But I felt very distant from her, and as though I was being kept at a distance, which was hard.

We made plans to rendezvous somewhere, but the morning I was supposed to fly, she called me very upset, and said she wasn't going to be able to go, because they felt her father's death was imminent and she needed to be there. I told her I understood, and supported her decisions. She told me she didn't want to lose me. Sure enough, after the brought her father home for at home hospice, he passed away the next day. My 40th birthday was the following weekend, and we had plans to meet somewhere to celebrate my birthday together. On the day she found out that her father would likely not make it through the night, she made sure to ship me some gifts she'd been compiling for my birthday to me. She ended up (understandably) canceling the trip to be with me for my birthday since her father had just passed away and she couldn't travel. I decided to take the trip anyway, and I didn't receive the gifts until I got back. We had talked about the funeral, and she asked me to buy a suit, and that I could wear one of her father's ties. I was honored. It meant a lot to me. I went out and bought a suit and got it tailored.

The trip was a fun one, but on the day of my birthday, I woke to a Happy Birthday text from her, that I'm ashamed to say I felt came up short. She didn't call me. It was a short text that felt like the bare minimum, and I was upset. I called her, and on the call she told me she was leaning towards me not coming to the funeral. She didn't want to put me through the travel, and just wanted to get through the funeral and get back to LA. It really hurt me that she was disinviting me. Ultimately I know that it's about what she wants/needs, and not me. And I understand her not needing me at the funeral since our relationship was so new and that would be awkward circumstances to meet her family. But in the moment I was really hurt. I asked her, "are we okay?" and she said yes. I said, 'Okay, because your text this morning felt like the bare minimum..." She went on to explain how hard things are in her world, and how much pain she's in. And I said I know she went to a lot of trouble to send me the gift, it just was disappointing to be disinvited from the funeral, and not really be made to feel special on my 40th birthday. All of this was too much for her, and reminded her of the disagreement we got in when we last saw each other where she was made to feel like she was letting me down, and she just can't handle that right now. I told her she was right and that I was being self-centered, and that I don't want to have needs that she needs to worry about while she goes through this horrible crisis. I told her I didn't want to add to her stress or pressure her. She had to hurry off the phone because of family obligations.

I was pretty miserable for the rest of the day. I texted her later and she didn't respond. So I texted her again asking if I could talk to her before she went to bed. She called me pretty late, and had been drinking with some friends. She was in a good mood though, and was being sweet. I should have just kept things light, but I brought up the conversation we had earlier that we didn't really get to finish. She said she didn't want to have a serious conversation right now, but I foolishly persisted and again brought up how it hurt me that she uninvited me from the funeral. At this point, I was adding to the stress of her enormous grief, and she had no choice but to end things with me. She said, "It seems like this is what you want..." I said, "Don't end things. I'm just being selfish on my 40th birthday. Aren't I allowed to have one bad day?" She ultimately said, "let's talk about it tomorrow."

The next morning, I wrote her an apology email acknowledging that I was being enormously selfish and needy, and that she has enough on her plate to have to worry about me. When I flew home and received her package, I felt like the biggest idiot on the planet. It was 3 incredibly thoughtful gifts, and a very sweet letter that did in fact make me feel cared for and special. I sent her a text that I was feeling incredibly foolish and would do anything to repair the damage I'd done.

It took her a couple more days to respond, but she finally did letting me know she doesn't blame me for what happened, and that its understandable that after so many plans got cancelled that it makes sense I'd be upset and hurt on my 40th birthday. She said that she realizes now that she is going through a horrible tragedy and needs time to get through it. That I have needs she's not able to meet, and that she can't show up to be my girlfriend right now. She apologized for not knowing this sooner. She said I've done nothing wrong, and in fact just the opposite, since I've consistently been there for her throughout this horrible experience. She thanked me for everything I've done, and said she cares about me.

I wrote a long email response that addressed all of the things I did wrong, and how I'm going to work on improving. I told her I hope its not the end as I think there's something really special between us. I told her to reach out if she needs a friend, or for any reason. That was 5 days ago, and its the last we've interacted.

She's going to be back in town in 1.5 weeks, and I have some of her things so I'm sure we'll talk and see each other again. I'm hoping that she just needs time, and doesn't want to close the book on me entirely. I want to let her know that I don't want to have needs that she needs to attend to right now. That I need to take care of my own needs and be better about that. I want to be able to support her and love her while she navigates this dark period in her life. Her email didn't feel like goodbye. She said she can't be my girlfriend RIGHT NOW. I hope there's a way to remain in her life during this, as I truly feel that she is the person I've been searching for, and that we are perfect for each other.

Any advice and wisdom is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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1 hour ago, LookingToImprove said:

She said she didn't have emotional bandwidth

Welcome, there are many kind people here on this forum. Your situation is truly challenging and I can fully understand your want for wisdom, guidance or advice. The responses you read my vary, but they will all come from a caring place.

What initially stuck out to me was the comment that she didn’t have the emotional bandwidth. Wow can I ever relate to that. The loss of my husband was sudden and unexpected, and I experienced massive shock for almost 3 months. Even passing the 22 month mark of his death I do not have the emotional bandwidth for many things in my life. With your girlfriend experiencing anticipatory grief and then experiencing her father’s death, it makes complete sense she would not have the emotional capacity to focus on anything else, and a new relationship would just be adding to the limited emotional resources she had.

I seriously understand how hard this situation may be for you when you’ve just started dating this lovely woman that you’re so excited to get to know and develop a relationship with. There’s something called “The Window Of Tolerance” which explains how deeply stressful and emotional events can reduce one’s capacity or window of tolerance. I’m not saying your girlfriend is experiencing this, I’m just giving some insight to how traumatic events such as a death can cause one to become dysregulated. It could explain why you suddenly felt out of sync when things became more stressful with her father’s condition.

As for wisdom, or advice - if she feels she can’t be your girlfriend right now I’d say if you care for her then respect that, give her the space she needs as she may be experiencing shock as she journeys through her loss and grief. I agree with what you said in your last paragraph, you need to take care of your needs. Be gentle when reaching out to her, don’t push or rush things. Let her know you’re there if she needs you without putting any expectations on her. And be her friend above all, if she give you the space to do so. By you truly demonstrating you can be a supportive friend builds a solid base for any romantic relationship.

 I hope this was some help to you. Be well friend 🙏

Here’s the pic of the window of tolerance if curious.

window-of-tolerance-infographic.png?form

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Welcome here, I want to start by saying you are going through very valid feelings and are not to blame for this, but then she is also, a victim of circumstance.  I also don't want to sugar coat things.  I have read every single post in this section, and of them all, I thought one had made it through intact, only to learn through messaging that they did not.  So NONE have survived their relationship intact!  Out of hundreds.  

I thought I had survived as friends at least, 13 years, only to learn, no, I was lied to the entire time.  I'm still shocked at that.  Those circumstances are thankfully unusual, I do not thing any of the others are liars. ;)  Just to be clear!

I'm sorry your 40th birthday was a dud...esp. after buying a suit and having it tailored.  You went above and beyond in trying to accommodate her.  It would have happened no matter who you were or how you were!  You could have been the most perfect person in the world (which I realize, none of us are) and still she would have come to the same conclusion, that she doesn't have anything to give at this time.  Because of your position in her life at this devastating time for her, however, there will be bad vibes associated with you in her memory that have NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU!  I remember my ex telling me afterwards (much later) that he felt guilty for all the time he'd spent with me that last year instead of his mom.  It is natural that a grown man or woman find a partner and the natural order of things...yet these feelings exist and need make no sense, they just are.  All rationale goes out the window when someone is grieving.

My mom died of Lewy Bodies (Dementia and Parkinson's together), she wasn't accepted in a nursing home in her advanced state, nor assisted living, we had to wait for a dementia care center to have an opening, that year of waiting was horrific, and I didn't realize just how much pressure/stress I was under until it was over...this was long after Jim had split up with me so he wasn't involved then.  Just saying, it is a horrific disease and the years we dealt with that were truly hard.  It felt a very hard time, and I was largely on my own with it, my sisters didn't visit her, only my brother, SIL, and I did.  My brother has never been close to me, perhaps because he's so much younger, but he has been a really stand up guy in times of family crisis and I appreciate that so much!

You have no choice in the matter...if you choose to ignore her wishes it won't go well, if you choose to regard them, it still won't have your desired outcome.  My best advice to you is to respect her wishes and when the time comes, you can begin to date but I imagine it will be a while before your heart begins to heal from this.  It's the toughest thing in the world and my heart really goes out to you.  I urge you to continue to come here and post.  Do not assert blame on yourself though, you have done nothing "wrong," You've been normal and your actions/responses understandable.  Forgive yourself, forgive her.  You will wonder why she remains friends with her GFs...that is the age old question, I wondered the same, why I was the only one excluded when Jim's mom died.  Because he felt guilty.  Cannot change that.

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5 hours ago, kayc said:

I urge you to continue to come here and post.

I agree with kayc said. Come here and share your thoughts, concerns, frustrations when you can.

I've had another thought about this somewhat unique situation. Please consider that you are also experiencing a loss at this time as well. You're now grieving the loss of dreams you hoped would unfold in this new relationship, one being the celebration you thought would happen for your 40th birthday. Things have shifted with her father's death and that has upended the typical phases or stages one goes through when starting a new relationship. Those early phases of bonding took a hit, and you may feel the impact harder than your girlfriend. She's in the early days of grief, which from experience are complicated as one is trying to navigate feelings of fear, shock, numbness, anger etc. Emotions can be all over the map, even within minutes several emotions can hit like a tsunami. You too may feel waves of different emotions as you process what could have been with this new relationship if things unfolded in a more typical, unencumbered way.

One final thought - perhaps it is best not to share with her that you too are grieving what could have been in the relationship if... This will only add to her heavy burden of grief she is experiencing with her father's death, and you do not want her to feel guilty or responsible for your feelings. You are experiencing something fundamentally different than your partner, and you cannot expect yourself or your girlfriend to be in a different place. Give your own experience the space it needs. Accept your partner’s feelings as her truth, and accept the fact there is nothing to do about it.

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Thanks everyone for responding.

4 hours ago, Boho-Soul said:

One final thought - perhaps it is best not to share with her that you too are grieving what could have been in the relationship if... This will only add to her heavy burden of grief she is experiencing with her father's death, and you do not want her to feel guilty or responsible for your feelings. You are experiencing something fundamentally different than your partner, and you cannot expect yourself or your girlfriend to be in a different place. Give your own experience the space it needs. Accept your partner’s feelings as her truth, and accept the fact there is nothing to do about it.

Unfortunately, I wrote her a lengthy email after her email to me, and in it I took full responsibility for my self-centered behavior, and identified why it happened, and how I'm going to work on myself. In that email I mentioned that I realized I was grieving the loss of our budding relationship, such as it was. I see now how that would make her feel guilty.

It seems like the main thing that makes these situations hard to reconcile is that the person going through the intensely dark and traumatic grief tends to associate the person who is broken up with with the awful feeling of the grief, and also has a lot of guilt around not being able to show up in the relationship how they'd have preferred to, and feeling like they've let the other person down. I wonder if there's a way that I can absolve her of that guilt, and make it so we're able to start things over down the road without a negative associations of what she went through.

Surely this is possible, as some relationships survive these kinds of things. Years ago, I dated a woman who's mother died in the first few months of our dating. In that instance, it strengthened our bond, and we survived it. I know everyone grieves differently. I really want this to work out with this incredible woman. The only thing I can think to do is to be strong and work on myself so when she's ready again I'll be better equipped to be what she needs in difficult times.

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I sent her a book on grief called "It's Ok That You're Not Ok" last week, and it arrived to her today. I had included a note: ""I heard this book is helpful. I hope you're doing okay. I'm thinking about you fondly, and hope you are finding some peace during this difficult time."

She still hasn't contacted me.

I have an email I want to send to her to try to remain in her life without putting any pressure or stress on her. I really care about her, and don't want to lose her because of one bad day where I was weak and self-centered:

"I hope the book on grief I sent you is helpful. I’m reading it (and a bunch of other things on the topic of grief) and it's helping me better understand what you’re going through. It sucks so terribly what you’re being forced to endure and I know you have nothing to give right now. My hope is that there is a way I can respect the time you need without adding any pressure or stress on you, and still remain in your life, because you mean the world to me. There would be zero expectations on you. I would not need anything from you. I know I can keep my own damn plate spinning for myself so you can focus on keeping yours going. You've got a lot on it, afterall. I’m here for you if you need me for anything during this awful awful time. I PROMISE I won't add to your stress while you process the worst pain a person can endure. I would ask myself every step of the way whether anything I did or said contributed to YOUR needs. "Would this make her smile? Would this improve her life? Will this ease her pain? Will this make this difficult time easier? Will she find this delicious?" These questions will be what motivates my actions or inactions towards you, should I be so lucky to be readmitted to your world.

 
Thinking about you,"
 
On the one hand, I know that if she wanted to be in touch with me, she would reach out. I guess I should follow what I've said in the email and not reach out since I guess it doesn't contribute to HER needs, since she's demonstrating she doesn't need me in her life. But I know I can enrich her life during this hard time. I miss her a lot and don't want things to be over.
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17 hours ago, Boho-Soul said:

Please consider that you are also experiencing a loss at this time as well.

Yes, absolutely!  That thought occurred to me too when I went through it.  Most definitely!  That's why Marty started this section!

12 hours ago, LookingToImprove said:

In that instance, it strengthened our bond, and we survived it.

People grieve differently, some do grow closer to those they love rather than pushing them away...I have never pushed anyone away in grief, and believe me, I have had a LOT of losses in my life!  I'd like to see a study done of those who do and what part of their personality sets them up for that, seriously!

In my situation, I was broken up with through Fed Ex, phone returned (his phone was on my plan) and totally cut off so no communication until after his mom died, 2 1/2 months later.  By that time I realized he didn't know his own mind and I couldn't count on anything he said.

9 hours ago, LookingToImprove said:

I should follow what I've said in the email and not reach out

Yes, respect her wishes.  This situation is about her, not you.  HOWEVER, it AFFECTS you!  That part you must deal with on your own, reach out to your support system, family, friends.

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12 hours ago, LookingToImprove said:

I sent her a book on grief called "It's Ok That You're Not Ok"

That is an excellent book, BTW!  Our pastor often quotes from it!  Trust that she'll read it when she's ready/able and will benefit from it.  But for now I would back WAY off!

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15 hours ago, LookingToImprove said:

She still hasn't contacted me.

15 hours ago, LookingToImprove said:

I guess I should follow what I've said in the email and not reach out since I guess it doesn't contribute to HER needs, since she's demonstrating she doesn't need me in her life.

Although you are both facing loss and grief, her loss has involved the death of a close loved one. Perhaps, it's not so much that she's demonstrating she doesn't need you and and more about the fact that she does not have capacity for anything other than grieving during this time, especially in the early stages of loss. Being on that side of loss myself I can honestly say that is true.

15 hours ago, LookingToImprove said:

My hope is that there is a way I can respect the time you need without adding any pressure or stress on you, and still remain in your life, because you mean the world to me. There would be zero expectations on you. I would not need anything from you. I know I can keep my own damn plate spinning for myself so you can focus on keeping yours going. You've got a lot on it, afterall. I’m here for you if you need me for anything during this awful awful time. I PROMISE I won't add to your stress while you process the worst pain a person can endure. I would ask myself every step of the way whether anything I did or said contributed to YOUR needs. "Would this make her smile? Would this improve her life? Will this ease her pain? Will this make this difficult time easier? Will she find this delicious?" These questions will be what motivates my actions or inactions towards you, should I be so lucky to be readmitted to your world.

kayc's response is spot on, back way off. I would not send the email. You say you want to respect her space, then do so. And as much as you still want to be a part of her life, you saying that comes across like an expectation, and relationships aren't one sided. All those question at the end of the email are overwhelming and if she did read them it could potentially add to her stress, especially that last sentence. Again, DO NOT send the email. And allow her space to grieve. Instead of you thinking of how you would respond to her needs, take this time to focus on you and your needs.

Food for thought - In my experience it's best to live life with intention rather that expectation. It's about holding expectations vs. holding intentions. 

Actions motivated by expectation focuses on what could happen, it fixates, and typically focuses on a specific external outcome. Intention operates in the present from one's own responsibility and personal commitment, creates distance and is not contingent on external cues or outcomes. Regarding this girl you care about, if you live with the expectation that someday she'll reach out and want to pursue the relationship and she doesn't, or if she does and it is unsuccessful then it's like a precursor to resentment, because you are attached to the outcome which is based on external factors, something you can't control. Expectations are a trap. If you meet them you expected it, if you don't you're disappointed. If you live with intention it involves self-learning, and your focus is on your own personal commitment. So instead of asking those questions about whether you contributed to HER needs, focus is on your needs, and what actions can you take to live your life with the intentions you choose.

Hope that all made sense.

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7 minutes ago, Boho-Soul said:

Food for thought - In my experience it's best to live life with intention rather that expectation. It's about holding expectations vs. holding intentions. 

Actions motivated by expectation focuses on what could happen, it fixates, and typically focuses on a specific external outcome. Intention operates in the present from one's own responsibility and personal commitment, creates distance and is not contingent on external cues or outcomes. Regarding this girl you care about, if you live with the expectation that someday she'll reach out and want to pursue the relationship and she doesn't, or if she does and it is unsuccessful then it's like a precursor to resentment, because you are attached to the outcome which is based on external factors, something you can't control. Expectations are a trap. If you meet them you expected it, if you don't you're disappointed. If you live with intention it involves self-learning, and your focus is on your own personal commitment. So instead of asking those questions about whether you contributed to HER needs, focus is on your needs, and what actions can you take to live your life with the intentions you choose.

Hope that all made sense.

This is really lovely and universally true. Honestly, its what caused me to be too much for her during this time. I had hopes/expectations around certain things that didn't pan out and was left disappointed as a result. Great words to live by, and I'll work on remembering this in everything that I do. I know it at my core of course, and mostly live my life that way, but being human, I do get caught up in hopes and expectations at times, especially when it comes to a new relationship with someone I see so much potential in. But life is unpredictable, and I think its all about "being water" as Bruce Lee said, so that you can roll with the punches as they come.

It's hard, because I love this woman, and she has chosen to shut me out of her life because I became to represent stress and pressure for her at an incredibly overwhelming and painful time of tragic loss. I wish I could remove that pressure and stress association she has with me so she would let me back in. Is there no way to do that at this point?

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6 minutes ago, LookingToImprove said:

I wish I could remove that pressure and stress association she has with me so she would let me back in. Is there no way to do that at this point?

Not now, if you do anything it would just overwhelm her. It comes back to her capacity, she's not in a mental or emotional space to process anything other than her loss. Death can hit you like a freight train and it affects all areas of ones life. If her mom is alive then she's also reeling in grief of the death of her husband, which then sends a ripple effect through the family. Hard as it is, it's best to create that distance. Perhaps sending a sympathy card to her and her family would be an appropriate gesture, simply writing, "Thinking of you and your family during this difficult time." Nothing more, keep it short and simply as to not overwhelm. Sending it by mail also allows that distance.

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29 minutes ago, Boho-Soul said:

Not now, if you do anything it would just overwhelm her. It comes back to her capacity, she's not in a mental or emotional space to process anything other than her loss. Death can hit you like a freight train and it affects all areas of ones life. If her mom is alive then she's also reeling in grief of the death of her husband, which then sends a ripple effect through the family. Hard as it is, it's best to create that distance. Perhaps sending a sympathy card to her and her family would be an appropriate gesture, simply writing, "Thinking of you and your family during this difficult time." Nothing more, keep it short and simply as to not overwhelm. Sending it by mail also allows that distance.

I sent her that book with a simple note like that. And I sent flowers to the funeral with a note. I hope those gestures aren't too much. And I'm going to try really hard to resist the urge every day to contact her.

She told me how much it meant to her that I was there for her every day. And then after one self-centered day where I let my disappointed feelings get the better of me, there's no place for me in her life at all anymore.

I know she's going through the hardest thing she's ever had to do right now, and that there's no place for me in that process anymore. I just wish I could undo the damage I did and be able to be a part of her life again and support her again.

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Whatever you've already done, is water under the bridge now, just stop...esp. if you want any semblance of hope in the future, but that ship may have sailed..  Ultimately, it's up to her.

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38 minutes ago, LookingToImprove said:

I just wish I could undo the damage I did and be able to be a part of her life again and support her again.

Believe me when I say that may not have been an option, people either close someone off or don't, she does.

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23 minutes ago, kayc said:

Whatever you've already done, is water under the bridge now, just stop...

I agree, you can’t look forward to the future if you keep looking back at the past wishing you could undo damage. There’s no undoing. There’s only learning and moving forward.

Such a hard scenario, I truly hope the best for you 🙏

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31 minutes ago, kayc said:

Believe me when I say that may not have been an option, people either close someone off or don't, she does.

But she WASN'T closing me off until I made my problem hers. We were talking every day, and she was keeping me in the loop of everything that was going on, and getting my opinion on things. Ultimately she did close me off from coming to the funeral, but I understand why. I know you have a lot of experience with this sort of thing, and talking to people going through things like this, so I don't want to short-change your wisdom here. But I also think people contain multitudes and nuance. I think her default is to roll up her sleeves and power through tough situations like this. And our relationship was so new that I wasn't established as that pillar of support that she could trust implicitly yet.

Regardless, I just got out of a therapy session, and I think there's no question I need to now focus on my own healing and personal growth, and work on the past trauma that resulted in my wounded responses to things like this. It's time to kintsugi the shattered plate I neglected to keep spinning on my own.

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3 hours ago, LookingToImprove said:

I just got out of a therapy session, and I think there's no question I need to now focus on my own healing and personal growth, and work on the past trauma that resulted in my wounded responses to things like this.

I admire the courage you have to go see a therapist. Gold star for you  Glad you're taking the time to focus on you.

I'm not a therapist, nor have I read the history of the many on this forum whose relationship did not make it. That said, there could be many who don't post here and have managed to weather the storm of grief in their relationship. I don't think it's a cookie cutter situation that all relationships end the same way. I don't know if it'd be holding onto false hope, or my optimistic nature, but I don't think the door is shut and locked on this. I guess time will tell.

 

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What do you think about me sending this? It’s been a week since my last email to her:

“I’ve been reading a ton about grief and I know I was far from perfect at being there for you and understanding just how hard this all is. I’m still here for you if you need anything, and I’m here without pressure or expectafiin. If space is all you need from me, I’ll give it to you. I’m so sorry how cruel the world can be sometimes. Keeping you in my thoughts. 

Charles”

 

I think my last email didn’t express the correct sentiments of understanding what she’s going through and that there’s no pressure, and that it’s all about her and what she’s going through. I want her to know that I’m there for her during the week of her father’s funeral. I know how incredibly hard it is, and I used to be someone that offered comfort, support, and was a sounding board for her to vent. I want her to know I can still be that for her. 

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Or what about a simple: "I want to give you space and privacy, but I'm also worried about you and wanted to check in. No need to respond."
This book on grief I'm reading suggests that its very helpful to hear from people, and I AM worried about her and DO care a great deal.
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A short simple email is definitely better. If it's too wordy she may not want to read it, or again have the capacity to process it. It's best to not state what you're currently doing, such as reading all about grief, and I wouldn't use the word 'worried', if she still has feelings for you your state of worry may add to her stress. Your relationship is new so you really need to trend lightly. The below statement shows respect around her situation and it lets her know you care without appearing pushy. Perhaps say something like:

"I want you to know that I respect and honor the space and privacy you need during this time. I also want to say you've been on my mind and in my heart."

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Is it not appropriate for me to send that to her, when she hasn't responded to my email from a week ago, or the book she received on Monday? Should I take that as a clear indication that she doesn't want to hear from me? Or do you think she would appreciate the thoughts and attention of a gentle outreach?

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25 minutes ago, LookingToImprove said:

Is it not appropriate for me to send that to her, when she hasn't responded to my email from a week ago, or the book she received on Monday? Should I take that as a clear indication that she doesn't want to hear from me? Or do you think she would appreciate the thoughts and attention of a gentle outreach?

Hard questions, and hard to answer. Death really does mess with ones mental processing, so it's really an unknown if she just doesn't want any contact with you at all, or if it's due to the delicate situation of her recent loss. Grief is so incredibly unpredictable, and as you probably have read, everyone responds differently. Not sure how long ago her loss happened, so perhaps if it's only been a few weeks then wait before sending a brief email, as those early weeks of loss and grief are messy and can be all consuming. Wish I had solid answers for you, but life doesn't come with a play book.

My heart goes out to you ♥️ 

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5 minutes ago, Boho-Soul said:

Hard questions, and hard to answer. Death really does mess with ones mental processing, so it's really an unknown if she just doesn't want any contact with you at all, or if it's due to the delicate situation of her recent loss. Grief is so incredibly unpredictable, and as you probably have read, everyone responds differently. Not sure how long ago her loss happened, so perhaps if it's only been a few weeks then wait before sending a brief email, as those early weeks of loss and grief are messy. Wish I had solid answers for you, but life doesn't come with a play book.

My heart goes out to you ♥️ 

The loss happened 2 weeks ago. The breakup was 10 days ago. Her last email was 7 days ago. In her last email she said she needed time to deal with what she’s going through. And that I have needs she can’t meet right now and she can’t show up to be my girlfriend right now. She said I haven’t done anything wrong, just the contrary, and she thanked me for everything these past few months of us dating. 
She didn’t ask me to not contact her. And she said she needed time, but didn’t say “space”. But then she hasn’t contacted me again since which is telling…

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23 minutes ago, LookingToImprove said:

The loss happened 2 weeks ago. The breakup was 10 days ago. Her last email was 7 days ago. In her last email she said she needed time to deal with what she’s going through. And that I have needs she can’t meet right now and she can’t show up to be my girlfriend right now. She said I haven’t done anything wrong, just the contrary, and she thanked me for everything these past few months of us dating. 
She didn’t ask me to not contact her. And she said she needed time, but didn’t say “space”. But then she hasn’t contacted me again since which is telling…

Okay, so this is super early on with her loss. The fact that she hasn't contacted you isn't telling you anything specific. I view her not responding as a reflection of her emotional and mental state. I need to stress the important of this, speaking from real life experience, the early days/weeks/months of loss ands grief really take a toll on you in a way you truly don't understand unless you experience it yourself. Honestly, I believe she just doesn't have the capacity at this time. One's thought processes are chaotic, emotions are overwhelming, and in those early weeks one may experience shock, which again from experience numbs all emotions for self preservation.

Our minds to try to protect us from pain, so following a loss some people may find that they feel numb about what has happened. Shock provides emotional protection from becoming overwhelmed, especially during the early stages of grief, and it can last a long time. This is natural and helps us to process what has happened at a pace that we can manage, and not before we are ready. It is natural and can be a helpful stage, and if numbness is the only thing we feel this can cause us to feel 'stuck' or 'frozen'.

Your girlfriend is going through a lot my friend. If she said she needs time then honor that. Perhaps she didn't say she needs 'space', but that's just semantics. I'd hold off on the email and wait. Stay connected here and let us know how things are unfolding. We are here to support you the best we can in this virtual place.

 
 
 
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Thanks so much. You're very kind and generous with your time. I'm so sorry you went through / are going through such a tragic loss of your own. So lovely of you to help others find peace and comfort through their difficult times.

I had the thought of sending her a gift card to a Korean Spa for when she gets back in town. I think she would really enjoy it and might make this difficult time a little easier. Would something like that be okay?

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