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ErikP

Relationship Changing After Girlfriend's Father Died

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Hello all! Let me first say that, like many others, I found this forum via google search and I've now spent the last few days reading every post that relates to my situation. I'm not sure why, but it's comforting to know that there are others out there that are going (or have gone) through the exact same thing! I know I probably shouldn't start a new topic on situations that been addressed plenty of times before, but I don't want to hijack another thread, so here we are.

Let me start from the top...

My girlfriend and I starting dating back around the first of June. Things took off almost instantly. We would talk/text for hours a day (at the time she was home about 1,300 miles away). She came and visited me twice over the summer, and we fell in love pretty quick after only about 2 months of dating. Which I know is quick, but the feelings were that strong, and I know she felt the same way I do. Just before she was going to come down to visit for the 3rd time in August, her dad very suddenly had a massive heart attack and died right in front of her. No warning signs, and to our knowledge, he wasn't even experiencing any chest pains or anything like that. In the first few weeks since his passing, things were relatively normal between us. I even flew up for his memorial service, in fact, that was the first time I actually met her family...which I understand is a little strange, but nonetheless, everyone seemed to be very accepting of me. Then around mid-September (about a month since his passing), she started to become more distant. She would have trouble holding my hand, showing affection, intimacy, etc. But we were still very good at communicating with one another (one of the best parts of our relationship). Since then, she has only seemed to crawl more inward, though we are still talking daily, things are very different than what they were.

She has since told me that she needs a little space, and doesn't feel like she can be invested in a relationship right now. We're not broken up, but obviously, things are way different now than they were a few months ago. Like I said, we do still talk daily, and we are actually going out tonight, but any affection is limited to hugs and maybe a peck on the lips. That in itself, is unusual, because she has openly admitted that she is a very affectionate person. I'm trying to give her the space that she's asked for, but by the same token, I don't want to make her feel like she's alone so I'm trying to just let her know that I'm here for her in whatever capacity she needs.

I can't imagine the agony she is going through losing her father so suddenly, and I don't pretend to know what she's going through, nor do I tell her "it's going to be alright". I'm letting her go through her grieving process in her own unique way. However, I think she is starting to question our relationship and whether or not her feelings for me are true (which I 100% think they are). This does hurt me a little, because I still love her dearly.

I guess I don't really have a question, other than, can this relationship ultimatley work out? I believe we can get through this, those close to me believe we can get through it, and even her own mother thinks we can get through this. But this is a hard pill to swallow right now, and I'm glad I found this forum.

Thanks all!

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This sounds so similar to the rest of our stories. Judging from what we have all been through and the outcomes, my guess is that you will lose her. But each case is unique and one can't assume. I would prepare myself for the worst though, even while giving it time to play out. The best thing you can do is be patient, respect her wishes, and give her her requested space. There isn't anything you can do to guarantee the outcome you want, this isn't something you can control. Grief can be an odd thing and each person handles their grief differently. There seems to be a certain percentage that handles it the way your GF is doing. I don't know if it's because they feel they can't enjoy themselves right now, the person reminds them of the last days with their parent, there were underlying issues that weren't confronted, or what. Most of us have speculated til the cows came home and not gotten any closer to understanding exactly what happened.

Do realize that what she is going through is not personal to you, but it sure as heck feels personal. I'm sorry you're going through this at all, you're right, she's in a lot of pain and has a lot to work through. It takes a long, long time to adjust to such a loss.

Meanwhile, you'd do well to try not to obcess over her (first inclination), and to spend times with family/friends, hit the gym, take up a hobby, work overtime, clean the garage, etc. Just keep busy/occupied.

Good luck!

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Thanks for response, Kay. And, although that's certainly not the answer I want to hear, it's helpful to hear it from someone who isn't emotionally biased to the situation, so I appreciate the candor.

Right now, I'm trying to take it one day at a time, and believe it or not, I'm seeing improvements in her behavior. Albeit, they are very small improvements, but I think improvements of any magnitude are important. I'm defining improvements as her actions going from completely shutting me out a couple of weeks ago (not even able to make eye contact), to sharing extra long hugs and kisses recently, suggesting she is beginning to open back up. She is more able to talk to me about her feelings, which I see as another good sign. Anyway, maybe I'm just trying to convice myself that things are getting better when I should be a little more realistic.

I will say though, that it's funny you mention to not take it personally. That's one of the things she's said to me as well. She keeps saying that "you're doing everything RIGHT", but it is hard not to take it personally.

Thanks again for your words of wisdom Kay, I'll try to keep posted.

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Well you said you aren't broken up, but by the same token, you'd said she'd shut you out, which is one of the first signs we all got.

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For the sake of completeness, I wanted to give an update for anyone interested. What brought me here in the first place was to see how others in this situation fared, and what the ultimate result was.

The girl and I are together, and are doing well. We were moving pretty fast before her father died, and now are taking it pretty slow, but I'm perfectly fine with that. She'll bring up future plans (nothing serious, just like "hey, do you want to do this in January?") which I see as a good sign she does want me around. Thankfully, her mother has been around almost the entire 4 months since her dad passed, and that's helped her get through this (moreso than me I'm sure).

Anyway, just wanted to share a story that hopefully has a happy ending, since there aren't too many out there right now.

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So wonderful to hear that, and I'm sure it's encouraging to others as well. I love it when things work out! Just for the record, even though some of us didn't make it, personally, I feel in my case that after all, everything is for the best and at least we're friends. Perhaps that's all we should have been. I care for him and always will.

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@Howlandj22  This person hasn't been on here in many years.  I hope you'll start a thread so we can respond to you in your situation...I'm sorry you're also going through it.

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I feel i have been involved in a similar situation however i feel that it is the other way round.

ever since my girlfriends father passed away i feel uncomfortable being around my girlfriend and supporting her, i feel awful as this is the time she needs me most, 

im not sure why this is the case but i have seen myself get and feel very anxious meeting her and speaking to her on the phone which is very unusual, before the passing of her dad everything was fine, brilliant in fact, Now i try to avoid doing things and having conversations and i am really worried as to why,

 

She has been so brave throughout the whole thing and obviously she is grieving which is completely understandable, i do love her to pieces i just want to feel comfortable around her again and i am worried this may never happen again.

 

slightly different however wanted to share,

 

thank you

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This post didn't show up until today, not sure why, but I'm sorry we made you wait this long for a response.  

It's understandable that you are feeling this as grief is not fun to be around, it can leave us feeling awkward, not knowing what to say.  Also, in our society we aren't taught about grief so we tend to feel like it's contagious and want away from it.  When my husband passed away, all of our friends disappeared overnight.  It was very hard!  I felt double-whammied.  
Marty has shared some good articles with you and I hope you will read them...I hope you'll be able to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone and be there for her in spite of your desire to flee.  It can be a true test of your love if you can get through this.  Understand that while our grief has a beginning, it does not have an ending BUT neither does it stay the same!  It evolves throughout our journey, and particularly when we get help with it through counseling and grief support reading learning, adjusting.

I wish you all the best going forward.

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