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Helping an ex-boyfriend who lost his mother

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Hi everybody!

First of all, my respects to those of you who have lost someone important in your lives :)

I come here seeking your insight, as people who don't know grief may be really unkind, out of their lack of understanding.

My recent ex-boyfriend (a long-distance relationship, although we met in person first - amicable break-up) has just lost his mother after a long journey of illness.

One day after they buried her, he sent me an email letting me know and somehow asking for my support; it wasn't a cold "let you know" email.

So we exchanged some messages and because he didn't feel like talking, I reminded him he could call me anytime, which he did the following day. He talked a lot about all the events related to the funeral, a sort of a stream of information, which is probably what he felt like doing at the time, so I was glad to be there for him.

I sent a couple more messages during that week, to let him know he could call me again anytime, just checking in on him and so on, but on our last messages, which were one week after our first talk, he slightly mentioned picking things up from where we left, very mildly really, so I deviated the topic and reinforced that I was there for him AS A FRIEND. Then left it at that and haven't reached out again for a couple of days now.

He's thanked me for my support, so I'm glad I did what I did during that first week, but don't really know how to proceed now. I know for a fact he doesn't have many friends, he's in his mid 40's, works a lot, doesn't like opening up to many people but I know he does with me. But I don't want to get back together and the last thing I want is to add to his suffering right now.

So how can I keep being supportive, as a friend, without giving him false hopes and more reasons to be upset during his grief? I think completely fading away would be a bit weird but I really don't know what my boundaries are here...


Any thoughts would be really appreciated :) 



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Dear mon,

What a thoughtful and considerate person you are.  The fact that you are here on this site so you could manage this situation thoughtfully says a lot about you.  Your ex is lucky to have you as a friend of support.  I think you've done exactly the right thing.  You've been there for him, you've listened to him and you have not encouraged getting back together.  The thing is loosing a mother makes you very vulnerable and needy.  I speak from personal experience.  Typically friends, acquaintances, people close to the person who has lost someone reach out the first week or 2 and then disappear after a month.  Grief goes on for a long long time.  It gets worse as time goes on.  After the shock of loss, real grief sets in and its complex wave of emotions.  I think you need to decide to yourself quite how much you are willing to be there.  This is not me saying you need to be there because I'm not.  You don't have to do anything.  You are not together.  Because you've been kind enough to reach out and say he can call you anytime, you may decide that you don't want that commitment long term.  So I think just be realistic and think about what you're prepared to give and for how long to yourself and then you'll be able to manage the situation.  Remember he will be feeling very vulnerable and alone and he could still read it wrong you being there.   If you read some of the posts here, you'll understand quite how difficult and complex it is emotionally  loosing a mother.  It isn't an easy situation.  I wish you luck and also commend you for being here.

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Hi sadandlost,

Thanks a lot for your kind words :) I do hope I can one day be half of what you described ;) 

I don't know about him being lucky to have me, but deep inside I love this man, as a person I think, more than as a lover, and I cannot bear the thought of not being there for him if he needs me. And I'm not trying to say I'm super important in his life; but he was the one to reach out to let me know and to ask for my support, and as I said, I know he won't get this support from many others, so I really think I should do this - and I do want to do this.

Today I texted him again being a bit more honest. I said I was kind of afraid to contact him now that he has brought up the "us" topic again (sort of trying to be funny to break the ice as well hehe). Then I reinforced that I would always be there for him and it would be his decision from now on to call me if/whenever he wanted - as a friend. No pressure - Do you think texting him this was ok?

I know that we should be the ones to reach out to people in grief, not otherwise, but I'm really afraid me reaching out would give him more reasons to be sad: false hopes.

I do plan to contact him in a couple of weeks if he doesn't do it first, I just wanted to sort of let him know why I would not be getting in touch so often - so he doesn't have one more reason to be upset right now, which is the last thing I want.

I hope he gets in touch if he wants to. I tried to be as welcoming as possible. And I really mean it when I say I want to give him emotional support, as long as he's fine with it being from a friend.




Edited by mon.
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Dear Mon,

I would definetly check on him if he doesn't contact you in a week or 2.  Its very hard to reach out when you are struggling just to come to terms with it.  Must of us don't want to ask for help or admit we are not coping.  I think its nice to get an email, call, text from someone to let them know you are thinking of them and are there if they feel like talking.  I think it would be helpful if you read some posts here, it will help you understand just how complex grief is.  It can make you feel very lost and alone in the world.  

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I will! I won't leave him alone - although we're far away, which is not the same as having physical support. I just want to find the right balance not to mess up with his feelings :)

Thanks again! You've been most supportive.

All the best!

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