My partner's dad is terminal and I don't know how to support him

My partner’s father was diagnosed my terminal cancer. He defied his prognosis and we have more time with him then we expected which has been great but now he is declining and it is awful to see. My partner is clearly upset, scared and worried but he is closing himself off from me. I don’t know the best way to support him especially as he is taking he fear and worry out on me. He is very snappy and critical and picks fights with me a lot. I am trying to be supportive and make allowances but there is only so much I can take. I am really worried about him but not sure what to do. The situation is bad enough without us fighting all the time.
Has anyone experienced this or have any advice? He says he doesn’t need any help but are there any support groups I can make him put him in touch with? He is a technophobe so it would need to be via phone or in person.

Hello Miller,

I’m no Agony Uncle, but I’d say that it is dodgy for anybody to try and give too much advice in such an interpersonal problem, as everybody and every relationship is different, and one size doesn’t fit all.
The good news is that you recognize the problem and underlying cause, and that you want to help rather than retaliate.
It sounds like your partner is putting up barriers and resisting help, either from you or any support group.
My dear wife (died in September) would have said, “I know he was your dad, not mine, and I don’t have all the memories you have, but I have learned to love him too, and see why he means so much to you. I am hurting almost as much as you. I want to comfort him and I want to comfort you, and I need you to comfort me too, rather than trying to hurt me more.”

Only you will know if that’s a suitable thing to say, but wishing you all the best.

Hi Miller,

I lost my dad in 2017 then cared for my mum with terminal cancer straight after until she died 2018. It was the hardest and still is the hardest time of my life.

My husband has been amazing. I’ve taken it all out on him, snapped and been awful to live with. I know this. You are in a really hard position and I now understand this but if you can get through this with your husband, I believe you will be stronger as a result. Xx

Advice? Tell him how much you want to help and promise him you will be by his side throughout this whether he wants it or not. Try to be as patient as possible and if he feels like talking, be there for him. Take time out for yourself too as it is such a stressful situation for you all.

Can you reach out to the people caring for your husband’s dad? They may be able to help him or chat to him as a third party.

My husband put a great emphasis on doing the little things for me like cooking, letting me have a bath etc while he looked after our child and it’s taken time but I really appreciate him now for helping with the day to day things.

Please take care of yourself. Maybe tell your husband you have asked this question on here and tell him a stranger passes on her love to you all at such a difficult time.

Ann xx

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