Hello community - I met a wonderful man nearly a year ago. He is a good, kind-hearted person. We met on a dating website. In the course of our courtship, he told me he lost his son 10 years ago. This loss, as I have come to learn, is all-consuming for him. He goes into cycles of sadness. I have grown to love him, and so now it’s deeply affecting me. We’re both middle-aged, and so I’m ready to live life as fully as possible in all the remaining good years we’re blessed to have. I told him I love him, but he said he couldn’t say he loved me because everyone he loves he looses. I gently suggested he seek therapy because when he goes into his sadness, I’m basically ignored. He said he doesn’t talk to me because he doesn’t want to make me sad, but his ignoring me and my knowing he’s sad makes me sad and depressed. He refuses to go because he thinks it won’t help. When I think about a future with him, I wonder if I can handle this year after year. Very interested to know your thoughts.
Hi @Anida ,
It must be hard to watch someone you care about suffer like this, but sadly you can’t force someone to accept help if they’re unwilling to take it, one of the strange things with therapy/counselling, it only really works if you believe it will. The subject of a grieving parent is a tough one, my own baby died during pregnancy some years ago, so I can speak from experience, it’s 100% heartbreaking , I guess we all think in the normal order of things, we expect to outlive our children, so when they pass before us it’s a very bitter pill to swallow, & when they pass we’re not just grieving them, we’re also grieving the life we should of had with them, the memories we should of had, of their life, them getting married, having kids, etc… it’s understandable that he carries this grief with him. Also it’s important to take into account how his son died, was it suddenly like in an accident, or was it through illness where he may of had more time to say goodbye. Loosing a child at any age can be complicated & messy emotionally, & it’s a process that can’t be rushed, but it’s inevitable that he’ll feel sad more around birthdays & anniversaries, but you can let him know he doesn’t have to go through it alone.
If as you say the man you care about is a kind & caring man, I can only say that good men are rare, so be patient with him, let him know you care & are there for him. I kind of understand the not saying “I love you” back thing, clearly for him this is a very real fear, so best not to push the subject, just remember there are more ways to say “I love you” than with words, parents & friends may say I love you with a comforting hug, if you have pets, a dog or cat may say I love you with licks, a wagging tail, or show of affection, on birthdays, we send cards to people we like, so he may not say it in words, the question is, how else does he say it? He says he doesn’t want to make you feel sad, this shows protectiveness, he doesn’t want to upset you. I think talk to him, maybe try to establish a routine of how he handles his grief when he gets like that, so that he has an outlet, but can talk with you to let you know what’s happening, so like, he can give you a signal that says “I need space right now”, but also gives you the reassurance of saying, “I’ll talk about it when I’m ready”, just recognising when it’s an emotionally charged time, & talking when things are calmer.
Thank you Pandaprincess. Your suggestions are helpful. I do need help with managing my emotions when he’s sad. I’m an empathic person, and so I strongly feel his sadness. I’ve decided to go to grief counseling myself so I can learn how to manage my emotions and learn how to partner with someone who is grieving like this. His son’s passing was sudden, an unknown heart issue, and he feels guilty because he feels he did not prevent it somehow as his protector. I’d like us to make it, and so I’ll continue to try.
Grief counselling sounds like a good starting point . It’s ok to feel sad sometimes, even in empathy, you are entitled to your own emotions, & it’s normal to feel sad when someone you love is going through such upsetting emotions, we all want the people we love to be happy & well, but it’s a bit like the weather, you’ll have sunny days & rainy days, but on the sad days try to remember, it doesn’t rain all the time, everything in life is a phase, you just have to take it a day at a time. I have a fridge magnet that says “you can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf” I find this way of thinking helps.
This was such a beautiful reminder. I’m going to learn how to surf during these times. I’m so glad you responded to my post.