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2 Bumps

What can I say or do?

My boyfrend's parents are in another state and having serious health problems. His sister called today and had a long conversation with him, telling him how miserable his dad is in the independent living place we helped him and the mom move into last Thanksgiving. The dad's memory is slipping a lot, plus he lost his driver's license, and the mom is having dementia issues as well. So their unhappiness is understandable, but there's not much anyone can do about it.

My boyfriend has just been terribly sad and depressed, really closer to heartbroken. He's had a lot of memories of how his parents used to be, sorrow over the way they are now, and regret that he hasn't lived near them since his young adulthood. There isn't a lot he can do from far away, but he couldn't do a whole lot more if he were closer, and moving really isn't an option at this point.

My parents are still healthy and active, and we aren't close anyway, so I haven't been through this yet. For those of you who have been there, what can I possibly say or do? I feel at such a loss. I hate to see my boyfriend hurt so much, but I have no idea how I can make it any better at all.


Asked by Ballad at 8:49 PM on Mar. 16, 2013 in Relationships

Level 45 (193,996 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (9)
  • Just to be clear, I described some of the "process" above but I really think that is an internal process (one that is SUPPORTED by listening, but much less likely to happen authentically inside if that same information is coming FROM someone else--someone who is pointing out how you made XYZ choices for a reason, or how you just didn't know, or how you shouldn't feel guilty. That stuff has to come from FEELING your guilt or self-blame as it is, and then reflecting on things AFTER you've allowed/accepted those feelings. What helps is having a person listening who lets you HAVE those feelings, and can stand to hear it.)

    Hugs to you. Gosh it's hard! I have had some stuff with my husband recently, and also our oldest child, where "just listening" was all I had to do but was a stretch. It was painful to "show up" in that way, be able to see it, and to "just allow it" to be what it was & how it was. Also hard to do that for myself!

    Answer by girlwithC at 11:43 AM on Mar. 18, 2013

  • Maybe he could just visit more often. Honestly being sad is okay as long as it doesn't last too long. He's grieving it takes time.


    Answer by RyansMom001 at 8:53 PM on Mar. 16, 2013

  • Is it possible for him to take a week off to make a visit?

    Answer by PMSMom10 at 9:03 PM on Mar. 16, 2013

  • Call often and visit as much as he can.

    Answer by virginiamama71 at 9:38 PM on Mar. 16, 2013

  • SO's mom is a little batty and in poor health. As you may remember, we are all going in May for about a week.
    He e-mails his mom several times a day to stay in touch.
    Perhaps, Skype may help him stay in touch?
    If the kid isnt able to go it will at least be better than having them just talk on the phone. You guys can even set it up so the system is operational for like an hour at a time and they can at least see her playing if she isnt in the mood to chat?

    Answer by feralxat at 9:14 PM on Mar. 16, 2013

  • i am so sorry, I understand that giving up your home, etc, must be hard, but the only thing to do is let them know they are loved and cared for.

    Answer by jerseydiva at 9:47 PM on Mar. 16, 2013

  • You can really hear him & try to understand. The kinds of feelings he's expressing are just real, unavoidable. Grief, and regret. The more he identifies them & goes through his "stuff," the more he can sort out the guilt that is there as well, and the blame (self-blame), and can resolve some of those "extras." You do that by owning how things are inside. Having a partner who hears you and can tolerate the experience of listening to your pain, helps.
    I have some of those same feelings (about my parents, and also about situations in my life and ways I wish I'd responded) and going through them (all) is the key. There is grief & pain, and regrets & wishing, too.
    If he really FEELS his full sadness about the distance, and perhaps about the fact that it was "by choice," he can feel the recriminations or guilt & can also begin to reflect more accurately on the reality...his marriage & family and all that was going on (for him) that

    Answer by girlwithC at 11:28 AM on Mar. 18, 2013

  • supplies the true context for the whole situation or "big picture." That is how peace (inner resolution) comes.

    Sometimes it's a matter of feeling the sadness/regret & also seeing that it's not about blame, that your choices were what they were for a reason, and that this reality (of distance since early adulthood) also exists. Sometimes the realization "I didn't know at the time" is a big piece of the process of acceptance.

    But as for what you can do or say, I think the focus on hearing & understanding, showing your caring through that understanding (being able to offer him "emotional containment") is the principle task. That's the way we can make any relationship a therapeutic one, or a "helping relationship" that facilitates personal growth & healing. You can bring the demonstrated & established qualities of good therapy into any relationship (Carl Rogers wrote extensively about that.)

    Answer by girlwithC at 11:37 AM on Mar. 18, 2013

  • He may need to go, but he's holding on till he can find out when his sister will want him to help pack up the rest of his parents' house and get it ready for sale. Plus, his parents want our daughter to go as well, but she's reluctant to go without me, which is starting to drive the cost up.

    Comment by Ballad (original poster) at 9:09 PM on Mar. 16, 2013