After my girlfriend’s Dad died, it felt as though our relationship changed. While we didn’t break up, she started distancing herself from me. Here’s my story…
My girlfriend and I started dating back in 2020 where we met on Tinder. Things took off almost instantly and we would text and talk for hours a day over the phone. She would come and visit me twice a month and we fell in love pretty quickly after a few months of dating. After a year into the relationship, her Dad suddenly had a heart attack over dinner and died right in front of her eyes.
The heart attack came as a shock without any warning signs. To my understanding, he wasn’t experiencing anything unusual – no chest pains or anything of that sort.
Being the concerned boyfriend that I am, I flew up for his memorial service. That was the first time where I formally met her family, which felt a little strange. Nonetheless, everyone seemed to be very accepting of me.
After My Girlfriend’s Dad Died, She Started Distancing Herself
About a week after his memorial service, she started distancing herself from me. It started with her having trouble holding my hand, followed by having trouble showing affection and eventually trouble showing intimacy.
The funny thing is, we were still very good at communicating with one another – which was really the best parts of our relationship.
She started to crawl more inwardly, creating a deeper air pocket between the both of us. She also told me that she needed a little more space and don’t feel like there was a need to invest in a relationship right now. While we didn’t breakup, things have taken a turn compared to where they were a couple of months ago.
Fast forward to today, we are still together and in fact we will be getting married in a couple of months time. So what exactly did I do right?
My Girlfriend’s Dad Died, How Do I Console Her?
I guess it is the finer details and small thoughtful gestures that matters most in times of grief.
In periods of grief, our feelings will be magnified – so it is very likely her feelings about you will be magnified too. Be sure to keep your phone charged and check your phone often to respond to her texts.
Lend A Sympathetic Ear
From my experience, she is very likely to express her feelings in a way that makes the people around her feel uncomfortable. So be sure to lend a sympathetic ear for her whenever possible.
While it may only be “just a text message”, not hearing back from you for hours can make her feel terrible and abandoned.
Be That Non-Judgmental Place For Her To Let Her Feelings Out
Also, don’t be afraid of her feelings and never disconnect from her even when you’re squirming or are unsure of what to say. The best thing you can do is to be that non-judgmental place for her to let her feelings out. Be that safe place for her to be angry or distraught.
Let Her Feel That She Has Been Heard
If she is willing to pour out her feelings, summarize and repeat what she just said in your own words to let her feel that she has been heard.
Listen to all her stories and memories of her Dad. Try to be as patient as possible and understand that she may be irritable. She may take it out on you, so be as understanding as possible.
When we experience grief, it is possible for us to feel angry – it could be angry at the doctors for not saving our loved ones or even angry at ourselves for not taking good care of our loved ones.
Giving Her Space And Not Demanding Affection
If you do meet up for date nights, try to keep affection limited to hugs and maybe a peck on the lips. Give her the space that she needs – just the right amount to make sure she doesn’t feel like she’s alone. Let her know that you’re here for her in whatever capacity she needs.
Let her take the lead when it comes to initiating sex. But trust me, she won’t be into it for a while. Make sure you don’t pressure her and don’t take it personally.
Taking Care Of Her Basic Needs
In periods of grief, people tend to forget to attend to their own basic needs. While sending her favorite food sounds cliché to many, it is an effective strategy to let her know your thoughts are with her and her family.
Figure out a way to get her favorite food delivered to the funeral home, especially if you can’t be there physically. Also reassure her that if she ever needs someone to talk to, you’ll always be a phone call away. If she needs a distraction from her grief, be willing to talk about her other interest as well – this will help keep her mind off her Dad’s passing.
What To Say To Girlfriend Who’s Grieving?
Many tend to feel uncomfortable around people who are grieving. And sometimes, saying the right things may not come as intuitively as it should be.
These are the six common comments you should never say to someone who is grieving:
- Things happened for a reason
- Your Dad is in a better place now
- Everything will be back to normal in a flash
- Time heal all wounds
- Look on the bright side of things
- I know exactly what you’re going through (especially if you have never experience the loss of a family member)
*Tip: Never downplay or dismiss their pain.
Instead, you may want to consider saying:
- I am so sorry for your loss, this is probably one of the most difficult things you can experience.
- I am so sad for you and your family, please accept my deepest condolences.
- I cannot imagine what you are going through but I am always here to listen.
- Dear Christel, it’s okay not to be okay. I’ll always be here.
- I went through this with my family, I know how painful losing a Dad can be.
- I am only a phone call away, be sure to call me if you need anything.
- I’ll always be here for you if you ever need someone to talk to or just lend a listening ear.
- You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to, I’ll just sit here beside you.
- If you’re not ready to talk, I’ll call you in a week to check in on you, okay?
But in my honest opinion, sometimes having silent support is all that is needed. Just be yourself and be genuine, she will definitely appreciate your efforts.
After My Girlfriend’s Dad Died, I Feel Uncomfortable Around My Girlfriend. What Should I Do?
It is very common for someone who has never experienced grief to feel uncomfortable around someone who has just experienced the loss of a family member.
If you feel anxious at the thought of meeting her or have attempted to avoid conversations with her – you’re not alone. It is understandable that you are feeling this as it is never fun to be around grief.
The topic of grief has never been taught in school, so we tend to learn from societal norms or what we perceive to be normal – to run away from grief like as if it is contagious. But the truth is, you’ll end up doing more hurt to your girlfriend.
My advice is to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone and be there for her in spite of your desire to run. This can actually be a true test of real love if you can get through this.
Be there for your girlfriend and give her time to grief. While grief has no expiration date, it does not stay the same throughout.
Read more: How To Heal A Grieving Heart? (6 Easy Steps)