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Dating someone about to lose his mother


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Hi, everyone,

I'm not sure if this is the proper place for this post, but here it goes.  I'm a 41-year-old woman who sadly became a widow 10 months ago when my husband of 22 years very suddenly and unexpectedly passed away from sepsis.  We had been together since I was only 18.  Unfortunately, the last several years of our marriage were extremely toxic, filled with emotional abuse, manipulation, lying, cheating, etc. on his part.  Despite all of that, I still went through a pretty intense period of grief.   As of late, I have been in search of a new relationship and have ventured into the world of dating.

A little under 2 months ago (in early March), I met an amazing guy online.  He is from the same area my late husband was originally from and he moved to my area 7-8 years ago after he got divorced.  He is almost 16 years older than me, but the age gap doesn't bother us at all.  Our first date was nothing short of incredible.  No, it wasn't full of romance, deep conversations, etc.  I won't get into specifics since it would be too much to write, but let's just say that the most hysterically funny, random things happened on our date that had us both laughing to the point of tears and stomachaches the entire time.  We agreed that neither of us had laughed that much or that hard in many years!  The date lasted for over 8 hours without us even realizing it!  When he brought me home at the end of the date, we had a very nice kiss.  I felt such a spark in my soul being with this guy and I was on cloud 9 when I got home.  I could NOT stop thinking about him or the incredible time that we had.  In fact, I haven't been able to stop thinking about him since.  We just connected in a way that I've never experienced.  I've NEVER felt this way before.   That evening after our first date, he texted me and said that he couldn't believe how our first date went, how he hadn't laughed so hard in so long, what a genuine and awesome person I seem to be, how beautiful I am, and he thanked me for such an incredible time!  We both agreed that we wanted to continue seeing each other and acknowledged the almost instant connection that we had, which neither of us had ever felt before.  

Since that first date nearly 7 weeks ago, we have spent EVERY single weekend together for the entire weekend.  We usually are together from Saturday morning until Monday morning.  We have continued to grow closer and closer.  Like he keeps saying, "We haven't had a bad time yet!"  We've had MANY more laughs and just have such an amazing time together, no matter what we're doing.  We keep talking about how we can't believe the connection and comfort level we have with each other so soon.  It feels like we've known each other for years.  He has texted me many sweet memes to convey his feelings for me.  We can't be together during the week since I have to work and he runs a business.  We live about 30 minutes away from each other.  He retired from almost 30 years of working in law enforcement and now runs multiple businesses here, so we both have things going on that prevent us from being together during the week.  However, we do text each other "good morning" every single morning and sporadically text throughout the day when we can.  He will also sometimes call me.   

Sadly, his elderly mother is terminally ill with cancer and is in a nursing home.  His father passed away several years ago, so she is his last remaining parent.  He told me all about this when we first met a couple of months ago.  Unfortunately, she has really declined in the last 2-3 weeks.  These last 2 weekends in a row, we traveled to his home state almost 3 hours away and stayed in a hotel there so he could spend some extra time with his mother.  Compared to all of our previous weekends together, he was definitely quite distant and withdrawn and, just this last weekend, I could tell that he had been crying after each visit with his mother, but it was obvious that he was trying to stifle his emotions in front of me, which I felt horrible about.  He told me everything that was going on with her and how she isn't doing well at all.  I just asked him if there was anything I could do and reassured him that I am here for him.  At one point, he said, "I could use a drink," so that's what we did.  He later said to me, "I know that we usually have a great time with lots of laughs on our weekend getaways; I realize I'm probably not the best company right now."  I immediately reassured him not to even worry about it, that just his company alone was more than enough for me, and that not every weekend needs to be wild and crazy.  I also told him that I'm here to support him during this very sad time in his life.  As of this week, he and his 3 siblings had to make the very difficult decision to transfer their mother into hospice/palliative care because she is continuing to steadily decline and is expected to pass away at any time.   His communication has definitely dropped off a bit since his mother started going downhill in the last couple of weeks and he has definitely seemed very preoccupied/distant our last 2 weekends together, which I completely understand.  I can't even imagine what it's like to deal with the impending death of a parent and I dread the day that I have to go through it.  He still sends me good morning texts and we will exchange a few texts throughout the morning and sometimes very early afternoon, but then I'll hear from him very little or not at all throughout the remainder of the day and night.  I can only imagine what he must be going through.  While I've lost a husband, I've yet to lose a parent (thank goodness).  Both of my parents, while elderly, are alive and well.  I have repeatedly told him that I am here for him and that I truly do care about him and am keeping his mother in my prayers.  

If anyone has any advice on how to be there for him in the best way possible, I'd greatly appreciate it.  I've never had to deal with this before.  My late husband's mother passed away in 2008 very suddenly, but that was a very different situation as compared to this.  I know that we've only been dating for a couple of months, but after spending the past 7 weekends together, I have truly grown to care about him so much and I want to be there to support him during this time in any way that I can, even if it means giving him some space to grieve and process this.  I HATE seeing him go through this, even though it's a part of life.  I want him to feel that he is able to reach out to me whenever he wants to, day or night.  I've told him this multiple times (maybe even too many times because I don't know what else to say).   I have noticed his decrease in communication (texting, phone calls, and being a bit distant in person) these last couple of weeks and I try not to text him too much since I know he probably needs a bit of space right now and is preoccupied with his mother, especially where he has to drive nearly 3 hours each way to visit her during the week.  I don't even know how often I should text him to check in to see how his mom is and how HE is.  I just want him to know that I'm thinking of him constantly without it being too much/overbearing.   Additionally, he has an almost 19-year-old dog who has cancer and also is not expected to live much longer, and he's had that dog since he was a puppy.  I don't want to be obnoxious and I certainly don't want to pressure him to make weekend plans with me while he's going through this incredibly sad and difficult time.  I LOVE our time together, but I understand that he may need some time off from our weekend adventures while all of this is going on in his life.  Like I said, we've spent every single weekend together these past nearly 2 months.   I got a very good glimpse last weekend when we were together of just how much of an emotional toll this is taking on him, obviously.  All I wanted to do was hug him the entire weekend.  I just didn't know what else to do or say, so I tried to give him some space, even when we were together.  He slept A LOT the last 2 weekends because he's so emotionally drained.   He was clearly trying to remain composed and not show too much emotion in front of me, but I could absolutely tell that this is eating away at him.   I just need to know how to conduct myself in this situation and I figured there would be no one better to ask than those who have experienced the loss of a parent.

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I’m very sorry for the loss of your husband and what you and your boyfriend are going through.   My mom passed away four months ago from septic shock, it was suddenly and unexpectedly.  She had multiple health conditions but we never thought she was going to die suddenly from something that no one mentioned before – sepsis, it was not from her heart or kidney or diabetes or cancer. It is still unbelievable…

I’m glad you found someone who can be your strength and it is admirable you are there to support and help him and his mom. It is true that in these moments while his mom is terminally ill, his mind and heart are for her. When I start thinking in the past when mom was mostly in bed at home and then hospitalized, etc…I can think in some of the things that I really wish a friend or other family member could have done and help dad, brother, sister or me at that time; they are the small daily things, daily routines like running errands or just being there to listen. Things like help cleaning in the house, laundry, prepare lunch or dinner or order food, pick up groceries, take out the trash, pick up the mail…those things that take some time from day-to-day or weekends, but with the weight of everything going on, they were not done or took a lot of effort to have them done…

Something that a cousin did, from many miles away, made a big difference, at least for me…Even if she was not there, she called to check on me, I didn’t answer because I was exhausted with what was going on and tired and sleepy…but she sent messages once every other day.  Simple messages like I’m sorry for what you’re going through, Would you like some company?, I’m thinking of you, I’m here for you, How can I help... small actions that really made a difference and helped during that time.

I hope you can continue be with him and give him strength, hug him, and listen to him.  We are all here sharing these stories, listening, and supporting each other.  I hope this helps a little bit...is only a personal opinion but I hope it helps both of you...

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@silvereyes, I am so sorry for your loss.  I've lost both of my parents, my husband 18 years ago, aunts and uncles, and my closest sister this year, so many more.  It's very hard, our routines that we had together are a reminder of our missing them, my heart goes out to you.  I like what your cousin did, that is very kind.

Thank you for your reports, they are very helpful.

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On 4/27/2023 at 11:49 AM, jrunner81 said:

If anyone has any advice on how to be there for him in the best way possible, I'd greatly appreciate it. 

I am so sorry for your recent loss...it may have come as a bit of a relief, but even so it's still hard.  My heart goes out to you.
What you are going through I experienced here:
Here I Go Again

I have read every single thread in that section and unfortunately, not one couple made it through intact...a couple appeared to but I learned through messaging they did not.  I don't want to give you false hope, I believe in telling it like it is.  I hope with you that you'll be the one exception, but...

I encourage you to spend time focusing on family/friends, being active, take a class, work on self improving, etc. anything to focus your time/attention from the phone not ringing from this guy.  Do not pressure him or expect anything.  There is definitely a segment of people that grieve that are unable to do a relationship at the same time, although they may continue with neighbors, friends, etc.  It may not make sense but it is what it is.  And unfortunately, they do not return to that relationship.  In my situation I felt him valuable enough to keep as a friend, he was very intelligent and like you say, funny.  I enjoyed his company, but we rarely saw each other after breaking up, 150 mile round trip, but still were there for each other.  In the end I was shocked by what I learned.  (That does not usually happen and I didn't see it coming.)

I wish you well going forward and am hoping you continue to come here and post, it helps us process things, and little by little, things sink in and we make our way through it.

I lost my husband 18 years ago, to the only man who ever loved me, and I him!  I only knew him 6 1/2 years, he was barely 51 when he died suddenly.  This after a loveless controlling 23 year marriage to my kids dad.  You think life has taken a turn and then...wham.

I'm 70 now, have lived alone these 18 years and am at peace with it.  You're still young, you have your life ahead of you, I pray you find someone to share your life with, but right now, first things first...need to get through this. :wub:


Grief Process

This is not a one-size-fits-all, what strikes us one day will be different a few months/years from now, so please save/print this for reference!

I want to share an article I wrote of the things I've found helpful over the years, in the hopes something will be of help to you either now or on down the road.


There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of its own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255 or www.crisis textline.org or US and Canada: text 741741 UK: text 85258 | Ireland: text 50808
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs)))  Praying for you today.


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@KayC thank you so much, and I am very sorry for your losses.  I cannot imagine all you have been through, I am very sorry.  Thank you very much for sharing the TIPS TO MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH GRIEF  above, the information is really very valuable, and for sharing your story too.


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