A dying mother can leave your boyfriend hoping for the best and dreading the worst. Watching someone grieve can be emotionally taxing, and you may find yourself searching for the right words to say. Though you cannot get rid of your boyfriend's pain, there are things you can say to help him during this trying time.
Handling the details of his mother's illness or injury can leave your boyfriend feeling stressed. It is acceptable to ask about his mother's diagnosis and course of treatment. This can give him an outlet not only to express his emotions but also to ask for advice and help. "I care about you," "How can I help?" and "I'm here if you want to talk" can be comforting conversation starters during this time.
Phrases to Banish
"I know how you feel" or "You will feel better soon" can seem like comforting phrases to say to your boyfriend. In reality, they can undermine his feelings, according to Everplans.com. Reassuring your boyfriend that his mother will get better and telling him not to cry can be equally damaging. Your boyfriend knows best how to handle his grief and feelings, and telling him what he should do can undermine that. Looking at the bright side of his mother's illness or injury -- like telling your boyfriend he at least has the chance to say goodbye -- also should be avoided.
Your boyfriend may be juggling several responsibilities at once, and offering your help can reduce some of his workload. Saying, "I can pick up groceries for your house" or "I can visit your mom tomorrow while you are at work" can be helpful, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If your boyfriend or his mother refuse your offers of help, accept it graciously. Remind them that you are available to help if they need it later on.
Losing his mother can change your boyfriend's entire life, and the grief he feels may continue long after her funeral or memorial service. He may struggle with handling her estate or coping with voids left in his daily life. Continue visiting, offering your help and acting as a listening ear as he handles his grief. If you are concerned about his grief, you can say, "I have noticed that you are having a very difficult time. Have you thought about talking to a doctor about it?" Urge him to see his doctor immediately if he talks about killing himself. You might also say, "I will go see someone with you if you want me there." You also can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for more assistance (see Resources).
Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.