Everyone grieves differently, which can make supporting others after the death of a loved one feel like a daunting task. Whether your relationship is new or long-standing, watching your boyfriend face the loss of his best friend will no doubt be difficult. If you are willing to remain open and available, however, there are ways you can help him through this painful time.
Listen With Compassion
The best thing you can do for your boyfriend as he attempts to cope with the death of a close friend is listen. Acknowledge his loss without trying to diminish or define the emotions which may surround that loss. Remember that what he is feeling will likely differ from your expectations, and don’t make the mistake of projecting your own grief strategies on to him. Marriage and family counselor Ann Kihara discourages giving advice or platitudes such as “everything happens for a reason.” Instead, you would be better served by expressing empathy and allowing your boyfriend to set the tone.
Find Ways to Be Useful
Feeling helpless is common when witnessing a loved one’s grief, but your boyfriend likely needs your assistance now more than ever. Take over his household duties for the time being, making sure he has food in his cupboards and a warm meal at least once a day. Offer to drive him to the funeral and wake, and remain by his side at these events. After a few days, take the initiative to plan an outing that will allow him to focus on something else, even if only for a few hours.
Continue to Provide Support
Remaining considerate of your boyfriend's loss, even after it seems he has let go, is crucial. People often revert backwards in the stages of grief for any number of reasons, and he may still have a few hard periods of mourning ahead. Ask your boyfriend on occasion how he is doing, and try to remember important days which held significance to their friendship. Acknowledging those times will help to validate his continued feelings of loss.
Watch For Signs of Depression
Be aware of your boyfriend’s mental state, and suggest he seek the help of a professional if his grief seems to linger. Remain cognizant of any signs of suicidal ideation or an inability to return to daily functioning. Your boyfriend will likely always feel this loss, but if he remains withdrawn from others or seems disinterested in the aspects of life he once enjoyed, it is time to get a counselor involved.
Living in Alaska, Leah Campbell has traveled the world and written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption and parenting. She recently released her first book, and holds a psychology degree (with an emphasis in child development and abnormal child psychology) from San Diego State University.