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Dating a Man Who Is Losing His Mother to Cancer

by Stacey Elkins, studioD

Dating can be stressful enough without your boyfriend facing the impending death of his mother. You want to help him through this difficult time but aren't sure what you can do to comfort him. The ability to be supportive, patient and available for him can make him feel less alone as he faces his mother's death.

Expect Him to Grieve

When someone close to you is diagnosed with a terminal illness it is common to grieve, says HelpGuide.org in "When a Loved One is Terminally Ill." Your boyfriend may feel angry, sad, guilt or fear. He knows his mother's life will soon end and needs to process his emotions. The reality that we will outlive our parents does not reduce the pain and loss we feel when they pass, says CancerCare in "Helping Yourself as You Cope with the Loss of a Parent." Be patient and understanding as your boyfriend goes through the grieving process.

Be Supportive

Not only does your boyfriend have the stress of work and everyday life, he also has the stress of his mother dying. He may be helping her sort out legal, financial and medical matters. He also may be taking on the role of caregiver. Support from others is vital for someone facing the death of a loved one, says Canadian Virtual Hospice in "Communicating with the Family." Ask your boyfriend what you can do to help. He may not ask anything of you, but take the initiative. For example, buy groceries, pick up his dry cleaning or walk his dog. Understand that this situation will take time away from your relationship.

Be Present

Don't assume someone is not hurting because they appear to be doing well, says HelpGuide.org in "Supporting a Grieving Person." Tell your boyfriend that you are there for him. Encourage him to talk about his feelings. If he doesn't want to talk, it may be beneficial for him to have you near. He may be overwhelmed, scared or angry. It can be difficult to know what to say to your boyfriend in this situation. Tell him he is not alone and you are aware he is going through a painful time. Don't tell him you know what he is going through. A simple "I'm sorry" can be comforting. If your boyfriend asks for space, be respectful of his request.

Be Encouraging

Encourage your boyfriend to take care of himself during this stressful time. Eating healthy and getting enough sleep is important for his health. Encourage him to find a support group for people losing a loved one. It can be helpful to talk to people who are going through the same thing. It offers a support system and a way to cope with feelings.

About the Author

Stacey Elkins is a writer based in Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a Masters in social work from the University of Illinois in Chicago, where she specialized in mental health.

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