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How to Help With a Death in Your Boyfriend's Family

by Lucie Westminster, studioD

The death of a loved one is a very difficult and trying event for any family. Even if the deceased is not related to you, there are a few things that you can do to help your boyfriend and his family through this difficult time. Because you are slightly removed from the situation, you may be able to both provide emotional support and help with errands that need to be done in preparation for the funeral or burial service.

Remind your boyfriend that you are there to support him in whatever way he needs. Although it is important to remind him of this in person, a sympathy card or note offering your condolences and support is also appropriate. He will appreciate the fact you took the time to share your support in writing.

Give your boyfriend space as he grieves the loss of his loved one. Each person processes feelings in a different manner. Because of this, it's important not to assume, for example, that just because he isn't crying doesn't mean that he is in denial or doesn't care about the loss.

Understand and be patient if your boyfriend's behavior changes during this difficult time. According to Psychology Today, depending on how a person deals with death, his behavior can change and he may distance himself, become more reckless or desire to be closer to you. No matter the change, be supportive and avoid becoming frustrated.

Offer to help with any errands that need to be done in preparation for the funeral. Depending on how long you and your boyfriend have been together, it may not be appropriate for you to accompany the family when they meet with the funeral home director. However, this does not preclude you from helping in other ways. Fix a meal, prepare snacks or offer to drive your boyfriend or family members to or from funeral events.

Pamper your boyfriend and give him a break from the stress of the loss of a family member. What with the death of a loved one, planning a funeral or memorial service and providing emotional support for others in the family, your boyfriend has a lot on his plate. Help him relax by fixing a quiet meal for just the two of you. Afterwards, offer a back massage in a relaxing atmosphere. This isn't the time to be romantic, as the purpose is to give him a hiatus from the current stress. Use your judgement: if he wants to talk about the loss, listen and be supportive. However, because the goal is to allow him time to relax, don't force the issue.

Items you will need
  •  Sympathy card or note
  •  Food for a special meal


  • Encourage your boyfriend to seek professional help if you feel his reaction to the death lingers for an extended period of time.

About the Author

Based in Texas, Lucie Westminster has been a writer and researcher since 1975. Her work has been published in journals such as "Psychological Reports" and "Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior." Westminster's interests include developmental psychology, children, pets and crafting. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Miami University.

Photo Credits

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