If your boyfriend’s best friend has passed away, you might find yourself his primary support system and source of comfort during the grieving period. It’s no easy task, but he definitely needs someone to lean on while he mourns his friend’s death. The best course of action is to be sensitive and helpful while providing him with some hope.
Listen. What your boyfriend may need most now is a sympathetic ear, say the authors at Harvard Health Publications. Allow him to tell the same stories to you over and over again, and listen without offering advice. You might also offer some hopeful words as well, but stop short of denying him his grief by telling him to “be strong” or “let it go,” advises Laurie Sue Brockway, writing for “Woman’s Day."
Express your feelings. Because you probably knew his best friend as well, you may have some of your own grief to process. It’s okay to share his sorrow, according to Harvard Health. Just don’t let yourself get so emotional that he needs to console you.
Offer specific help. Brockway points out that many people in mourning don’t know how to ask for specific assistance, or may hesitate to bother others. It’s best to offer practical help in specific ways: do some grocery shopping for him, clean up a little, give him a ride to work if he needs it. If necessary, ask some of his other friends and family members if they can pitch in with specific tasks so that you’re not the extent of his support system.
Allow him space and time to grieve. It’s a good idea to check on him regularly and avail yourself when he needs to talk, but if what he needs is his own space, give him a reprieve. He needs to process this in his own way, as people mourn differently. Ask him to tell you if he needs time alone.
Keep semi-regular dates. It might be good for your boyfriend to have a break from feeling that he “has to” keep thinking about his best friend all the time. Though he shouldn’t feel guilty for having fun, he might while he’s still grieving. Start slow, with a movie night at home, and work up to going out to a restaurant or a party together. Just be sensitive to his needs if he has to cut the night short.
Emma Wells has been writing professionally since 2004. She is also a writing instructor, editor and former elementary school teacher. She has a Master's degree in writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology. Her creative work has been published in several small literary magazines.