How can I help him?


A woman wrote that her fiance's mother had died recently and she was now concerned by her fiance's erratic behavior. He had a close relationship with his mother. Laura's own father had died the year before and her fiance's grief was so unlike her own. She thought he would benefit from grief counseling but he had no interest in it. How could she help her fiance grieve the death of his mother?

Dear Laura,

First, I am very sorry for the loss of your father. While loss and grief are universal, grief is deeply personal and no one grieves the same way. We each have our own timetable to grieve and grief cannot be forced or rushed. What helps you may not be right or helpful to your fiance. He must grieve the death of his beloved mother in his own time and in his own way. The greatest gift you can give him is the gift of acceptance. Accept him where he is and give him the time and freedom to grieve as he chooses.

I recommend a warm and supportive online grief discussion group sponsored by trained grief counselors. It is free but you do need to register to use it. A lot of grievers also find comfort, ideas and support from other grievers. You will find that you are not alone. How do you help a grieving loved one? Post the question that you wrote to me on the site. I think you will get many helpful responses.

You wrote that your fiance has said that he is losing his mind. This feeling of mental collapse is not at all uncommon in new grief. His struggle may be beyond anything you can do for him but you cannot force someone to get professional help. All you can do is to let him know that help is available, he is not alone and that you love him. Above all, please remember that there is no time limit on grief.

Here is a direct link to a section on my web site titled An Act of Courage that discusses getting help for intense grief and how to locate the resources in most cities.

Note, too, that men and women grieve in different ways, or as I read once, "Men sigh and women cry." Men tend to get busy, sullen or angry while women want to talk about their feelings. It is also important to avoid stereotypes: Of course some women get active with projects and some men cry. But please know that men are unlike women in their grief. To learn more about how men grieve, please visit Tom Golden's Crisis, Grief and Healing
. It is helpful to men and the people who love them.

I can tell from your letter that you love the man you are trying to help. He is fortunate to have such a caring person in his life at this difficult time. I hope my note has comforted you a little. I pray you find the direction that you seek.

Peace to you,

Christine J.

Go to next page: An Aged Father's Death

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How complicated and individual mending is,
the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar
Mary Jane Moffat
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