Boyfriend lost parents, anger at me, drinking

My boyfriend lost his mom less than a year ago and then his father a few months later. It hasn’t even been a year since his mom. He’s an only child and has had to deal with all of their arrangements and their estate. He was very close to his mom and had a tenuous and challenging relationship with his father.

When his mom died he leaned on me. I was the only one he spoke to about feelings, showed sadness to, etc. After his dad, it continued but he started having outbursts of anger. He would have REALLY BIG REACTIONS to very small, almost inconsequential things. He also started drinking heavily. He wasn’t drinking for enjoyment. He was drinking until he was drunk. That would cause more extreme reactions.

I would like to add that I have been his entire support system. I have listened to him talk, cry, tell stories. I would answer calls in the middle of the night and stay on the phone until he fell asleep because he couldn’t be alone. I would always go see him when he didn’t want to be alone. I was there 100% of the time.

His mom’s gravestone had a spot for plants. He wasn’t ready to go to the cemetery so I got rose bushes and went and planted them so his vision for his mom’s resting place was realized.

A few weeks ago was what would have been his parents anniversary. I saw him but he didn’t speak much. After that (it’s been two weeks) he is angrier than usual, he is lashing out at me, saying hurtful things, won’t talk to me in person. He is so angry. If I say anything positive, he won’t acknowledge it.

I know anger is a stage of grief and many times is displaced onto someone else who’s “safe”. He’s also been drinking a lot, alone. It scares me that he’s doing that.

I’m at a loss. What can I do? Is his behavior typical? My parents are both living and I haven’t experienced major loss like this. I’m flying blind. Any help would be appreciated.

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I drank heavily after I lost my father. I was an only child. I lashed out at my aged mother. Yes, it is normal. Insofar as I am concerned. I was tired from caregiving and could not mourn my dad as straight away I was caring for my mom.

Only children are very burdened. Burdened with terrible responsibility to be the perfect kid, to meet expectations, responsibilities. Maybe no one says but there is just no one else to share it with.

He needs time. He is lucky to have you. So lucky. I would gently remind him that you can only take so much and I would highly recommend counseling. I did it and still do.

They wanted to wean me from their memory which I cling to. Not possible. But hang in there if you love him. It just takes time. The loss is like a canyon.

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p.s. do not be alarmed about drinking alone.

being alone was needed for me as my central nervous system literally could not handle the world.

drinking is very soothing. it is a place to go to. only when it starts a path of destruction should you worry. I would not badger him about that at all. he is allowed.

please, drinking for “enjoyment”. there is NO enjoyment to be found with such big losses so close together. drinking to get drunk to void the pain is completely understandable. the only problem with booze is that is deepens depression. so that is something for him to think on.

he is in shock. it is so hard and the future for him prolly feels very bleak.

Thank you so much for your insight as an only child. I’ve backed off and am giving him space and have told him I’m here. I love him and just want to whatever is what he needs. Thank you again for sharing your experience.


Hello @Confused_alone, I am so sorry your boyfriend is struggling with the death of his parents. It must be very hard for him to cope with.

However, I am a little worried that you say he is lashing out at you. It sounds like he needs more support than he is currently getting, and he might benefit from a visit to the GP. Your boyfriend may also want to consider our Online Bereavement Counselling, which is available to you, too. You sound like you care for him very much and want to support him as best you can, but as @berit says, you can only do so much.

While some anger is normal when grieving, it does not mean that it’s okay for someone to take their anger out on their loved ones. I would encourage you to be mindful of your own emotional wellbeing and your safety, too. It can be hard supporting someone who is grieving. You might find our resource here helpful:

Please do keep reaching out, we are here to support you.

Take care,