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Gf's Mom Passes Away From Cancer, Breaks Up With Me

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Hi guys, I am new to the site and would like to say hello along with asking for guidance with my current situation...

Me and my girlfriend love each other, and have been in a relationship for 2 years. Her mom was diagnosed with cancer last July and passed away 16 days ago. She is only 22 years old (turning 23 in August). She has an older brother and a father who verbally (and sometimes physically) abused both her and her mother. She hated her father, he didn't care about her mothers condition, he didnt care about her, and when she was diagnosed, he still lived his life like a horrible insensitive human being. Before death, She said that she wants to get out of the house and seperate herself from her bro and dad. Also, her mom liked me, i had a good relationship with her and she kept her relationship with me a secret because she knew the father and husband wouldnt approve but did so to keep her daughter happy. So basically, her father and bro would hate anyone she dated.

Fast forward to a day before her passing away...me and my gf were all in love and i told her that i'd be there for her and everything...

the day after, and after the funeral, she became distant, stopped saying "i love you", and pretty much pushed me away. I figured she was going through a lot so she just needed space but then a few days after her passing away she asked me "promise me we'll always be friends" i was thrown off by that...one thing led to another and she said that "we cant get married" i was shocked, like i was in the twilight zone...i asked her why? she said that her mom was stickler for religion and she wanted the couple to share the same values (we are of different religions) mind you, neither of us are religious, and she is even less religious than i am...that was never a problem when we fell in love and her mom never had a problem with it cause her daughter was so happy...so i told her, i said ur mom wanted u to be happy, which is why she never frowned upon our relationship. but my gf didnt want to hear it, she said she wants to do everything for her mom, she wants to quit her job and do something similar to what her mom did, if her mom picked someone for her to marry and even if my gf likes the guy 1 percent she will do it. THAT IS NOT LIKE MY GF AT ALL.

oh and get this, her bro and dad are PERFECT SAINTS now. Apparently they have "CHANGED". I dont think this change will sustain. Her dad and bro went from treating her like complete crap to a complete princess. shes so distant from me, she doesnt call me anymore, we text once every few hours only cause i check up on her....im going crazy, i want to be with her forever and help her through this

what do i do? what do i think of this? are we over? does she just need time? is she confused? is she not thinking rationally?

i feel like living through someone else, even if its ur mom, and forgoing ur happiness is bad for a person in the long term

help me, please...thank you

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Rim I would give her some space for sure. Who knows what is going on now. But if she needs you I will bet that she will get a hold of you.

It's often advised that after a significant loss it is best not to make any major life changes. And I would perhaps share that with her during one of your texts.

But otherhwise I would try to respect her requests, even though it is very hard for you. Just be a real good friend to her. As that will only serve you both real well right now. See how it goes for a bit. If as some time passes, it looks like she still doesn't want more of a relationship or a future with you... as sad as it is... I would move on then yourself.

I have learned that sometimes people are in our lives for just a short time.. but I am always able to have learned something valuable from them.

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She just lost her best friend in her mom. She wants to be sure you are her best friend, by making you go through this tricky situation. She does not want to lose out on her family in case she is not sure that you will be there for her. You have to make her believe you will always be her best friend from now on.

Sorry, I am not very good at words, but you understand what I am saying.

ALl the best to you and I know you will succeed,

Take care,


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Thank you Leann and Kavish, do you think she will come back to me once her feeling are less raw? I know it sounds extremely selfish and i won't talk about "us" with her which is why I am here....but we were in love, and i know she's in love with me...maybe shes confused? or her rationale thoughts dont exist? I don't think humans have an On/Off switch when it comes to loving someone....we were PERFECT the day before...i love you this, i love you that...the day it happened, BAM...180 degrees

We've always been so faithful to each other, shes been there for me through thick and thin

You think there's a good chance she'll come back?

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I am sorry but there is no way for us to know if she will come back to you or not hon.

She might be just totally overwhelmed by her grief at the moment. So stay near but not too near, if you know what I mean.

Confusion, desiring an abundance of alone time (mostly to lick wounds), racing thoughts, expressing loads of emotions, plus a whole bunch of other things are to be expected from someone who has experienced a significant loss. All of those things are "normal".

Or another thing could be that she knows her Dad and brother finding out about you may present a conflict that she isn't feeling up to handling right now...

Who knows... and we can't really say. I would love a crystal ball to look into the future for you...but unfortunately... they don't exist and we must deal with what is in front of us.

So.... I would just be a real good friend to her now.

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I am sorry you are going through this. My son was just best man in a wedding last night of a couple that had split up for several years and then ran into each other and they reestablished their relationship. Also, years ago there was a couple, very much in love, that ended up apart...the guy was heartsick and I tried to console him, I told him there were other girls, and he just couldn't see it...he pined away for her, wishing for just one smile...fast forward to years later, they reestablished their relationship and were married last fall...that couple is my daughter and son-in-law and they are extremely happy with each other, and very much in love...his unwavering faith and love held on for her...and as for her, she began having dreams of him when they were apart, causing her to think of him and miss him.

Your daughter's grief is undeniably affecting her and bringing on these changes. You can't control the outcome, can't control her, but you can be there for her as a friend if and when she should reach out for you. As for the future, anything can happen. If you get the opportunity to talk to her, you might encourage her to talk to a grief counselor, they might be able to shed some light on some things. It is easier for you to see what is happening than it is for her because you are on the outside looking in and she is in the middle of it. One thing I would add is, if you continue to be her friend, don't do so in an effort to get her back, which is manipulation, but be there for her because you genuinely care about her ultimate good, which is being a true loving friend. My son-in-law was willing to let my daughter completely go if that would make her happy...and that kind of love is truly miraculous.

I wish you the best...there may not be a quick fix to this situation, but I can assure you, in the end, things will work out in a way you can't begin to imagine at this point in time. Trust in that and never let it shake your faith.

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Thank you all for your kinds words and hope. Kay i wish i could end up how your situation played out. I feel like if i recommend her a grief counselor, it will rub her the wrong way...i don't know, i want to help, i just don't know how

she's so distant from me...it's like...imagine saying I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU TOO one day, and then the next day, we're practically acquaintances...the most i ever ask her is how her day is going, and thats the extent of our conversation

everyday i wish she would just finally come to me...that should finally drop the front and just utilize me in any way she wants...i was her boyfriend, HOW could she forget that? i know her mom passed away, but i've helped her through so much these past few years...why isn't she letting me help with this?

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I only know that grief affects us in odd ways sometimes and it can take years to play itself out. If she could see a grief counselor or even come on line here, it could help her immensely. There was another person a while back that came on line, dealing with the death of their parent that had actually occurred several years ago. Because they didn't feel they'd dealt with it, they felt they needed to now, and wanted to break up with their live-in girlfriend. I remember telling this person to try and separate the two situations, that most people want the solace and comfort of those around them. If their relationship was good to begin with, why throw it away? A person can work through their grief without throwing their friends away. But sometimes they don't see it that way. Maybe it has to do with how she processes things...maybe she is feeling the need to focus on her mom right now. I wish I could encourage you but I only know that life has it's cycles and has a way of coming around eventually. You will get through this and life will get better for you eventually. My heart goes out to you because I know the pain of breaking up, and whatever the reason is behind it, it doesn't feel good.

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I only know that grief affects us in odd ways sometimes and it can take years to play itself out. If she could see a grief counselor or even come on line here, it could help her immensely. There was another person a while back that came on line, dealing with the death of their parent that had actually occurred several years ago. Because they didn't feel they'd dealt with it, they felt they needed to now, and wanted to break up with their live-in girlfriend. I remember telling this person to try and separate the two situations, that most people want the solace and comfort of those around them. If their relationship was good to begin with, why throw it away? A person can work through their grief without throwing their friends away. But sometimes they don't see it that way. Maybe it has to do with how she processes things...maybe she is feeling the need to focus on her mom right now. I wish I could encourage you but I only know that life has it's cycles and has a way of coming around eventually. You will get through this and life will get better for you eventually. My heart goes out to you because I know the pain of breaking up, and whatever the reason is behind it, it doesn't feel good.

Thank you again Kay....i want to recommend a grief counselor to her but i'm so scared...how do i approach her about it? i feel like its so early and she will take it the wrong way or something. We're already so distant, i don't know how to bring it up...what if shes not ready for that kind of recommendation?

any suggestions?

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You don't need any suggestions with this one... :) It appears you already know.

You said you felt it was too early.. then.. you are probably right. It IS too early. You know her & this situation better than any of us. Follow your instincts.

I'm sorry she wants this distance right now... but I have learned all difficult things in life have some value and I learn & grow from them always.

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I would pray for an opening...if she says she is having a difficult time with losing her mom, you might softly ask her if she's considered seeing a grief counselor, that they might be of some help. The seed will have been planted but it really is up to her what to do with it. It could be that she hasn't even heard of such a thing...I doubt I ever thought about it until I faced the loss of my husband.

As Leann said, you will know within yourself whether it is right to say something to her or not...when and how. You know her better than anyone does.

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Dear One,

You are to be commended for trying so hard to find a way to help your loved one through the loss of her mother, and I think you've received some excellent suggestions from our other members.

Helping another in grief is a topic that we've addressed in our forums here before; although the circumstances are a bit different, you may find this earlier post (and the resources suggested) helpful. See How Can I Help? When Someone You Love Loses Someone

See also the articles and resources listed on this page on my Grief Healing Web site: Helping Someone Who's Grieving

I think we all understand your wanting to "be there" in a kind and caring way for your girlfriend. At the same time, I think what's important here is not whether or how you might recommend grief counseling for this young lady, but rather that you educate yourself about what is normal in grief and make yourself aware of what bereavement resources are available, so you're armed with that information if and when your girlfriend is willing to consider it. Whether your lady decides to take advantage of those resources is really up to her, but certainly if she ever indicates an interest in them, you can go so far as to help her find out what and where they are.

Just knowing what normal grief looks like, knowing what to expect and knowing how to manage the typical reactions to it can be very, very helpful for you. Then, if and when the timing seems right, you can gently offer to share with your girlfriend some of the resources you yourself have discovered and explored (so you'll know why you're recommending them). You might also print out one or two of the articles that you find and send them to your girlfriend to read, along with a gentle comment such as, "I found this interesting article that shed some light on something I've been wondering about – I thought perhaps you'd be interested in it, too. Maybe we can talk about it together, after you've had a chance to read it."

Another idea is to give your girlfriend a book to read, which can be an indirect but very effective way of helping. Some wonderful books have been written about grief in general and about mother loss in particular; you'll find some of them listed on my site's Death of a Parent page as well as in the Grief Healing Bookstore. See also the book list compiled by our own members, here: Grief Bibliography. Do this with care, however. As Leeann pointed out, you know your girlfriend better than anyone, so keep in mind what you know of her when you select a book you think will "speak" to her. (I think it's always best to read beforehand whatever book you're recommending to someone else, so you'll know exactly what's in it and why you've selected it for that particular person.)

Be aware, however, that your girlfriend may not be open to or ready for your offers to help -- especially if she doesn't see that there is a problem here that requires your intervention in the first place.

I don't know if this offers you much help, my friend. Unfortunately, I don't think you can "fix this" for your lady, but you certainly can learn more about grief and loss yourself, so at least you can understand better what may be going on with her. You'll also be in a better position to encourage her to seek the help that is available to her, should she ever feel a need for it.

I know it's difficult when you want to do something to make things better for someone you really care about, and you're not certain if she wants or even needs your help. Unfortunately, even as a counselor I cannot force my help or unsolicited advice onto a person who does not seek it directly -- all I would get in return is resistance. We simply cannot "make" someone else do what we think is best, regardless of how "right" we may think we are.

As others have suggested, you are wise to take your cues from your girlfriend. This is her grief journey, and right now the most loving thing you can do for her is to follow her lead. I also believe that if your love for each other is true, it will be strong enough to withstand this challenge. Please know that we're all thinking of you and pulling for you!

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Marty, Kay, Leann, and everyone else...thank you so much...i love the girl too much to give up on her and us

Marty, i will read over EVERY link you posted and keep you updated on how my journey goes with her....please subscribe to this thread as i will probably rant on any changes and hopefully can get more advice...i am so happy to have found this site

one more quick question...do you need medical insurance to visit a grief counselor? meaning, how much do sessions typically cost?

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Having insurance helps.. but there are mental health clinics that may take fees on a 'sliding scale'.. (in other words based on what one earns..) or they will work something out fee-wise; also many churches have grief counselling available.

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Some grief counselors in private practice will accept payment from insurance companies; others charge a set fee; many are willing to offer a sliding scale according to the individual's ability to pay ~ it all depends on the individual counselor and the circumstances, so I cannot give you a definitive answer on that. You can

  • Call your telephone operator or public library and ask for the numbers for your local mental health association or your local suicide prevention center. Either agency will have good grief referral lists. You need not be suicidal to get a grief referral from a suicide prevention center.

  • Use the Yellow Pages and call hospitals and hospices near you. Ask to speak with the Bereavement Coordinator, Social Worker, or Chaplain's Office to get a local grief referral. Many hospitals and hospices provide individual and family grief support to clients for up to one year following a death, and offer bereavement support groups to the general public at no cost.

  • The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization maintains a database of hospices for each state in the United States. To search for a hospice in your own community, click on

    Find a Hospice Program.

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If it is any consolation, my husband and I are as close as two people can be. My best friend said, he was very much the other half of me. When my father died in January, I was completely inconsolable. I withdrew from everyone. My world came crashing down. I could imagine that she feels the same way, especially if she doesn't have all the support that I was lucky enough to have. Just let her know you're there whenever she needs you. Don't judge, don't discuss whether or not what her brother and father are doing is right. If she comes to you to talk, just listen. That will help her more than she will know. Just like everyone else, I can't promise she's going to come back to you, but that's the best way to help. Maybe you can suggest a site like this, it's helped me, even when my husband couldn't.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your girlfriend,


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Thank you bfy, when you say your world came crashing down...did you put up a disguise with the people around you?

I am feeling so much pain right now...i just don't know what to do anymore...she acts like there is nothing wrong...we were texting last night and she was pretty responsive, but she puts up such a front. OMG, it kills me...she sends all these "lol" and "haha" and smiley faces. I know she's devastated, so why doesn't she either a) just act devastated or B) push everyone away....here is an example of our texts last night

Me: Is there anything I can do for you?

Her: smile

Me: U got it sooo backwards, thats what i ask you to do!

Her: :)

Me: Therrrreee it is

Me: My biggest gift to you is to help you when/if you ever need me, so we can crank out more of those smiles :)

Her: I do... trust me i smile when I talk to mom. I'm good

AHHHHHHHHHHHH, I feel like punching a wall...why is she acting like nothing is wrong? what does this mean???

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She might very well BE feeling fine right now. It's ok. She isn't acting like nothing is wrong... she is just might be feeling ok at the moment and that is a good thing. Well as "ok" as one can feel at the moment. She may not be up for sharing any of her more teary moments and that has ot be ok. We all do this in our own way and in our own time. There is no right or wrong way to grieve hon. It is whatever works for each person. I would try to let go of any pre-conceived ideas you may have about grief. It isn't always crying & gnashing of teeth & wailing for us. Sometimes it is just walking tenderly & slowly through the day trying to just "be". And also...I would try real hard not to get so angry... that is NOT good for you!

I can tell you truly everyone's grief journey is unique. And since she is texting you I think if she needs anything.. she wil let you know. Til then if I were you.. try REAL hard to let go of any old ideas you have about grief and just "be" in the moment with her.. HOWever she is.

Perhaps you migth find that you need to distract yourself a bit away from thinking about this or over-thinking it. So don't be afraid to get yourself busy doing other things. Life does go on.... :)

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Leann, I get what you are saying and it makes a lot of sense but i dunno, i definitely dont want her to be in pain but i also dont want her to put on a mask. If she's okay, then great but why do i have the feeling inside of me that she's not and she's just wearing a mask...and i guess it hurts ME because i should be the one person she doesnt have to do that with....am i making any sense? i feel like im going crazy

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Rim, dear, the trouble with grief (especially at this very early point) is that your beloved may not even KNOW what she is feeling right now, much less how to explain it to you. When you keep asking her how she is and tell her that you're there to help her "crank out those smiles," it may feel like subtle pressure from you that she should feel "better" than she does. It's hard to say, and again, you know her better than we do ~ but instead of asking if there's anything you can do for her, you might try conveying messages like these instead (taken from my article, Words of Comfort for the Person in Mourning:

I'm so sorry.

I care.

I love you.

You are so important to me.

I want you to know I'm thinking of you.

I'm here for you, and I will continue to be here for you.

I wish you comfort, and I hope to be among those you find comforting in the weeks and months ahead.

I'm praying for you.

I want to help.

I understand your need to cry and I'm okay with it. You can cry in my presence whenever you need to. It's okay to feel the way you do.

Of course you're angry [or whatever it is that she is feeling at the time]. I'd feel the same way, too.

It's good to let those tears out.

Tell me what this is like for you.

I'd like to stay in touch with you; is it okay if I keep texting you?

I understand and respect your need for privacy as you grieve. If you need to be alone, please say so.

If you need me, I'm ready to hear from you anytime, day or night.

What do you miss the most about your mom?

When is the worst time for you?

What do you do with your sadness?

What helps you during such a difficult time?

What memories are most special? Most difficult?

What gift of the heart from your mom will you always keep?

I believe that one day you will see the light of day again. You may not have any hope right now, but I will hold it for you until you=re ready to hold it again on your own.

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I second everything Marty said Rim. :) She puts it so well!

It's true.. she may not even know how to put into words how she feels. She isn't "fine" of course. She is grieving so try not to assume you know what is going on inside of her. You can't know that unless she shares it with you. And like I said, she might just not be able to get her head & heart around all of this yet to put it into words. It's early days yet.

Try not to put any pressure on her.. allow her space and her feelings WHATEVER they may be and/or whether or not they seem "right" to you. They may not EVER seem right to you because you may grieve a loss like hers completely differently. And that's fine.. REALLY it is. We are all different.

She isn't hurting you on purpose.. you must know that. She must just want & need to be on her own for a bit. And that is understandable. Try not to take anything personally. This is about her & her grief really, isn't it?

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You guys are so best, all of you...I am so happy to have found this site...you guys really provide insight that i did not see on my own

okay, so i will take your advice and try to give her some space and not put too much pressure

that leaves the question, what do i talk to her about? im not going to talk about her feelings, her mom, or anything like that....i cant talk about "us". What are some of the topics i can touch upon?

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What do you talk to her about...???

Well ask her how her day went.. let her know how yours went. Ask after her brother & Dad..etc.. Just normal stuff.... everyday stuff. Tell her about anything you might have planned to do for the weekend and ask after her plans for the weekend etc...

She how she accepts that and responds to it.

Did you ever see the movie "The Story of Us" with Bruce Willis & Michelle Pfeiffer? In that movie the Dad (Bruce) would sit down at the dinner table and say "Ok, Hi Low" and then each person at the table would share what their high (or best) moment of the day was and then their low (or hardest/worst) moment of the day. So you could do a variation on that.

Then proceed from there. Let her set the tone & pace though.

This may be one sided for a bit or.. longer.. but just take it as it comes ok?

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Thank you Leann, I am so nervous when I talk to her...im so scared i will say the wrong thing and rub her the wrong way....i mean this is the girl i've been with for 2 years so its strange for me to say that....but im just so nervous...i want to do everything right so i can not only help her, but be with her again...i miss her so much, u guys have NO IDEA

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