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Boyfriend's Dad Died In November

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Hello all. I stumbled across this site yesterday after constantly scouring the web for such a forum, and could finally relate to some of the things I read. While I know my story isn't unique, I need to get it off my chest amongst a community that can relate. Friends that haven't been in this position just don't understand.

A brief history:

I met my boyfriend at work in July when I was still living with another man. He supported me through the end of that relationship, we grew close, and started dating in September (he's 28, I'm 24). Like most other couples I've read about on this site, we had a lovely, quickly budding romance that was going perfectly. I hadn't been with someone so selfless and attentive. Two months into the relationship, we booked our first short trip together for Nov 12. That was the night I was awoken at 2AM by a phone call from him telling me his dad had just died at 57. It came completely out of nowhere, and I suppose it was especially traumatic since he and his mom discovered him lying on the kitchen floor, and tried reviving him unsuccessfully. My boyfriend is an only child. He lives in the house, in the apt. on the top floor.

The story continues accordingly - he was very reliant and appreciative of me during the initial funeral period. I gave him plenty of space at the wake and mass, not knowing his family well yet. He just knew I was there and greatly appreciated it. I'll never forget him texting me "Thank you" from the hearse as my car trailed it a few cars back. I felt overcome with sadness and helplessness, but I just did what I could do: be there for him.

Things between us didn't change much in the first month after. He didn't cry in front of me, nor did he speak about his dad much at all. He acted his usual silly self with me, and I felt it was best if I helped to provide that "escape" for him -he didn't seem to want to discuss things, so I didn't press it. I knew it was probably a guise for the pain he must be feeling inside. Christmas came, and I was disappointed when he did not attend my family's party- in hindsight, I know it was too much for him.

Things pretty much leveled out from there on out. I had doubts fairly often, because he wasn't as attentive as he once was. When I asked him about his feelings for me, I didn't get much in response. It was hard not to feel selfish for getting frustrated. But I told myself that it was his grief, not him personally. I tried to go more on his actions than his words, and he was still contacting me and making plans.

A huge Motley Crue fan, he asked me to go to Las Vegas with him in February. Additionally, we booked a few concerts and plays. These are still planned for this Friday, mid-March, and April.

I'm writing because in the last few weeks, after our amazing trip to Vegas (in which he was uncharacteristically close, affectionate, happy) he's been withdrawing. Little things I've noticed, like being less affectionate in public, decrease in sex, etc. This is a man who texts constantly, to say good morning up until we go to bed. Things changed this past weekend. Sunday, I spent the night at his house. Things seemed fine. He spoke of our plans to see a Broadway show this Friday. I left in the morning, and since then, I haven't heard from him. It is now late Tuesday. I couldn't take it, especially after hearing his voice in the office (he works out in the field as a technician, and radios in) , a few hours ago, I texted him, "I hope you're alive." to which he just replied, "Yup." I didn't say anything else. And neither has he.

While this may sound like I'm overreacting, I am overly cautious about these things and pessimistic, because I don't want to get myself hurt. I'm afraid that this is just the beginning of what may be the inevitable end to our relationship. I've done a lot of reading on grief and its effect on relationships, and I have so much hope that I can ride things out and that we can be closer once again. But another side of me fears this is the beginning of the end. What should I do from here? Wait for him to respond? Any insight is much appreciated.

Thanks for reading. -Liz

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He may be feeling guilty that he is alive while his dad is dead. He may feel responsible for his mom now and could feel a little overwhelmed. He may be numb and not know what he feels. When you have new grief like this, it's very hard to just go experience fun and gaiety so it's very understandable that he wouldn't want to attend your family's Christmas party, after all, his family just got ripped apart, and your family serves as a reminder to what he lost. His dad was pretty young and I'm sure this was the furthest thing from your BF's mind, losing his dad this soon, after all, he'd always been there for him and we always think we have tomorrow with our loved ones.

I would play it really low key and not put any pressure on him..."I hope you're alive" can be taken as sarcasm and viewed as a disrespectful judgment. It'd be better to show caring concern and say "Hope you're okay". Right now it's probably best to let that blow over although the damage may already be done. He needs support without any pressure. One thing to keep in mind is you can't control the outcome...he may not be able to either. He is going through something indescribable that no one can understand but him...and he probably doesn't even understand it. You can have all of the perfect responses and it can still end. Then again, it may not. It's not something that can be predicted. When someone is grieving, they are ultra sensitive and can take things the wrong way as a result. I hope your relationship can ride this out, but only time will tell. The only thing you can control is your response and whether or not you want to accept things as they are. If not, you'll have to move on for your own well-being. Right now it may be too soon for you to know what to do, let alone act on it...then again, his responses may help you come to a conclusion that will aid you in your own decision making. I know this probably isn't what you wanted to hear, but the truth is, everyone's grief journey is very individual and so are their responses and timeline. I wish you the best possible outcome and hope the best for him as well.

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Hi there, thanks for taking the time to respond. You make some very good points - I have pretty much arrived at the same conclusions. In my head, his grief is all-consuming and has changed him in many ways he is not even aware of. Out of all the men I've dated, he is the least communicative when it comes to feelings so I'm left putting the pieces together myself. Unfortunately, sometimes I drive myself crazy with insecurity. What I mean by that is, (and this is referring to our period of not speaking this week) I will notice how he was still at work, still talking to friends, still posting on Facebook. It's hard not to take the distance personally, like maybe, he just doesn't feel seriously about me. He was able to do those things. But he specifically avoided me.Then I tell myself, well, the relationship requires the deeper connection, it requires work and energy-it's easy for him to do the other things. I reason myself into a circle and then out of it. I feel very strongly about him and our potential, so I want to be able to say I can be patient and selfless for the next x amount of months it will take him to adjust, but there is no guarantee. We aren't married. He doesn't technically "owe" me anything, though I feel I've already been so supportive and held my tongue about things in my interest. My wants and needs have been put on hold, and I feel like I need some reassurance from him he is in it for the long haul. But he seems to refuse to give me that-when I ask him about where "we stand" he doesn't give me much. He is always planning things with me and sees me frequently (till this week) so I am trying to judge more how he feels about me based on his actions. I guess, if I choose to wait this out, only time will tell.

In terms of my "I hope you're alive" comment, that was in relation to something he had said earlier in the week, jokingly but morbidly. He had gone to the car dealership, and since he shares his first & last name with his dad, they mistakenly had him in the system as "deceased." I told him, no, you're alive. And he said "Sometimes." So that is what I was referring to. He's also reacted defensively when I've asked "Are you okay?" in the past, so I wanted to word it differnetly. (As if he wants to project an image of being fine all the time.) The death of his father has made him very guarded.

Anyway, today the silence got to me, after tossing and turning all night and knowing we have plans tomorrow I wanted to break the ice softly. I texted him "Will.." and he did answer. He asked me how I was and said "I'm sorry, but I just needed some time alone." And I told him I knew that. And we spoke a bit after that, smalltalk, but I'm still on edge. I guess -sigh- time will only tell. I'm trying so hard. I'm afraid to lose him and the possibility of it happening, even after I've invested so much energy, I need to come to terms with.

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My XF is an Aspie (Aspergers) and as such, can't communicate on a personal level very well, so this makes sense. As you've probably ascertained from reading others' posts in this section, it's pretty much a commonality that when they break off with us due to grief, they seem to continue with their friendship, work, plans, travel, etc., hence all the more confusion for us. I can't explain why that is, but it's definitely a common observation that it occurs quite often. Perhaps it's because we were so close and they can't do "close" any more? Maybe they're afraid of having another close relationship they could lose? God only knows...

I see, (about your "alive" comment), that makes sense, that's funny. Well he couldn't have taken offense at that then.

You say you need assurance that he's in it for the long haul...that's NOT likely to be forthcoming. They seem unable to give anything. I say "they" because after reading so many others' situations on here, it seems like a classic response.

He is still talking to you, so far, so that's encouraging. As you say, only time will tell. I'm afraid in most of our cases, we put our needs/feelings/wants on hold to "do what would help them" only to have them diss us in the end. If it comes to that, please recognize what's happening and do what's best for you! You are the only one that will look out for you and it'll require your doing that.

I have been through grief, I lost my husband seven years ago, and nothing can be more devastating than that, esp. when it's totally unexpected and you thought you had the rest of your lives together. I did not shut out people, as a matter of fact, most of them shut ME off because they're uncomfortable with death and don't know how to respond. It's hard for me to get how you can lose someone and shut off the person that cares about you the very most, your best friend and partner...how/why would one do that? That's the question I've never been able to answer and I've stopped trying.

You will get through this, no matter what the outcome, and you will undoubtedly be stronger for it. I wish you the best in these upcoming months.

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