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Thread: Girlfriend broke up with me because her mother died. Any advice please?

  1. #1
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    Girlfriend broke up with me because her mother died. Any advice please?

    I will try to keep this as brief as possible!

    Anyways, I (25 M) started dating a girl (21 F) 5 months ago, and really early on she told me that her mother was dying from cancer. I was very shocked, but told her that the news she just told me didn't change anything for me, and that I wanted to be there for her during this time.

    During these 5 months, she was handling it pretty well, and we both had such an amazing and loving time dating each other. She even had me meet everyone on her dad's side of the family (her parents are split), and took me to the hospital to meet her sick mother. I did everything I could do to help her, I cooked for her, drove to see her late at night whenever she felt upset, and we spent hours everynight talking on the phone. I never placed any expectations on her, and honestly just wanted to be there for her as much as she wanted me too.

    Fastforward to three weeks ago, her mum finally passed away. My girlfriend asked me to come to the funeral, which I gladly did to be there to support her. She also asked me to come to the family wake afterwards, but I told her that since I hadn't met anyone on her mother's side of the family, I didn't think it was appropriate for me to meet them for the first time under these circumstances. She said that was fine and she understood, but it wasn't until later that I found out how much that had upset her and how unsupported it made her feel (yes I stuffed up big time). The week after the funeral, I knew she had so many arrangements to make and so many family members and close friends to see, that I didn't ask her to hangout, because I felt I was giving her a bit of space to be with her family ( I still called her everynight, to check in, sent flowers, and sent supprotive messages daily). Later on I found out, that she had wanted to see me as much as possible in that week, but she felt that her grief was a burden on me so she didn't ask me to see her. Yes I know, I should have just communicated with her, instead of assuming..... I am such an idiot.

    Anyways, two weeks after the funeral I had to fly interstate to deal with issues going on in my own family (i still called her everyday), and when I returned, she asked to meet up with me and broke up with me. She said that she had been in denial over her mothers impending death, and it wasn't until she had some alone time (week I was gone), that all of the grief flooded in. She told me, she had expected me to step up the support even more when her mother passed, and that she had felt pretty alone and unsupported (read above for two examples she mentioned). Then when all the grief rushed in, she just went numb and didn't care anymore. She said I was the perfect guy, and she still cared the world about me, and that if it wasn't for her mother dying, she honestly thought our relationship would have gone long term. She said the main reason she wanted to breakup, is because her grief is so all consuming (she was extremely close to her mother), and that she just didn't feel that she could handle a relationship right now. She said that in a relationship she always puts in 100% effort, and that at the moment she barely has enough energy to get out of bed, which means that she constantly feels she is letting me down, which makes her feel so guilty on top of all the grief she has. She said she just really has to focus on herself right now, and that any sort of responsibility to anyone else, is just too much for her to bare. She also said, that she just needs a bit of space to process everything that has happened, but that she really hopes we can work things out in the future.

    Anyways, a week after the breakup, she had to come by my house to drop off a few of my things. I had done some hard thinking, and apologised for how I had made her feeling the week of her mums passing. She really appreciated it, and went on to tell me, that she still really liked me and didn't want me completely out of her life (even though she couldn't handle the pressure of a relationship). She told me how she was barely coping, that she could really use me as a friend right now. (Don't know if I made a mistake by saying this, but I honestly care and love her that much), I told her that I only ever wanted what was best for her, and that she can call me anytime. Throughout the past week, she has called me a few times while she was breaking down. She has also called me when she was having a good day, just because she likes talking to me too. Then yesterday she invited me to start going to a weekly paired latin american dance class with her (something we had always said we would do).

    I honestly have no idea what to do. Everything I have read online says that if you want to win someone back you have to go no contact, but I honestly feel that if I abandoned her now, then she would never want anything in the future. Do you guys things there is any chance I could get her back one day? And if so, what would be the best way to do it? Or should I just cut ties and try to move on?

    I honestly just feel so hurt. When I met up with her, I never suspected she was going to break up with me, it was a complete surprise. Seeing how much she is hurting, breaks my heart, and all I want to do is be there for her. I just don't understand how she could push me away, I feel so betrayed and worthless. I keep blaming myself for the lack of communication I had, I should have supported her more, it is honestly all my fault it ended, and I can't bare to accept the fact that I lost someone I saw a future with because of my actions.

  2. #2
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    Let her drive. I think you are doing the right thing, OP.

    Grief is a strange thing. Everyone processes it differently and IMO it’s ok that she is being a bit “off”. It will all take her time to process.

    I do think that you should have gone to the family wake if she wanted you there - but it’s not unforgivable that you didn’t go. So don’t beat yourself up for it.

    My vote would be to continue to be there for her as a friend but set an internal “cutoff” date for the relationship to get back to normal-ish (3-6 months max).

    I don’t think all of those dating articles apply in your situation, personally. She is in a tidal wave of grief. It’s an exceptional situation.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    Sorry about the pain and confusion.

    Grief hits people in different ways and people process grief in different ways. Regardless, it's real, it's a torrent, and the death of a parent is a lot for a relationship that has hardly taken off to take on. Hard as it is, I think you need to try to understand that this really has nothing—nothing—to do with you. You're not broken up because you didn't attend the wake or because you gave her "too much" space; you were doing your best, and you did well. More importantly, as with any relationship under any circumstances, you were being yourself. That's all you can ever do.

    You're broken up—simply, and sadly—because your ex is grieving and doesn't feel capable of being in a relationship with you as she grieves. The more you make it about you—about how you should have done x instead of y—the less you are respecting her and the magnitude of her grief. Try to remember that. This is her time, and her time only.

    In terms of what to do?

    First, stop Googling about how to get an ex back and really, really try to purge the whole "getting her back" idea from your head and heart right now. Step into even bigger shoes, get big by getting small, and just be there. No labels, no expectations. Be there for her as a friend. She can flirt one day, go cold the next, want to talk to you, want to sit quietly—don't take those little shifts as verdicts on you and your future together, but just her working things out and flailing a bit, as she has every right to do. Be there for her.

    Per the above post, I think having a little internal cut-off for how long you can be there—in a purgatory state—is a good idea. That way you won't be looking at everything on a day to day scale, but can just take what comes for the next few months and then decide.

  4. #4
    Gold Member Cherylyn's Avatar
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    Having lost a father, I can relate. Granted, I didn't lose my mother, however, it is traumatic and earth shattering to lose a loved one such as an immediate family member. My life turned upside down and between financially supporting my widowed mother and younger siblings, I didn't have the energy, time and brain space for a boyfriend. I didn't have a boyfriend until 3 years after my father passed away and didn't marry until 5 years after my father passed away. It takes a long time to recover from major life's upheaval such as death of a loved one. Some people heal faster than others. Pain will always be there though.

    In the future, when someone asks you to the wake, you know you should go and it doesn't matter if you hadn't met family members prior to the wake. It is perfectly appropriate to attend despite not having met them first. I'm sure you know this by now. Don't be so hard on yourself about this, george1993.

    I even cooked and brought meals to wakes for family members I had never met! I even cooked and brought meals to wakes for the deceased whom I never met! I was asked to attend so I felt honored to attend and help.

    She broke up with you because she's extremely stressed and can't handle juggling a girlfriend-boyfriend relationship right now which stands to reason. She needs to chill and have alone time. She needs to think long and hard as she goes through her mourning and grieving process. This could take months and sometimes years.

    In the meantime, just be a friend. Back off and let her steer the ship. Be supportive and don't think about any intentions of a relationship in the future. Just be a genuine, honorable, sincere, trustworthy friend. Be a good listener. Over time, let her decide if she wishes for a rekindled relationship.

    Bring dinner whether homemade or take-out/carry out meals. Just drop off dinner after making sure someone is home to receive it and leave. Never linger. Stay out of the way while being helpful and considerate.

    Several days after my late father's funeral, I remember a neighbor brought over a casserole after I came home from work. This neighbor was a godsend during the darkest, bleakest time of my life. I'll never forget their kindness.

    Remain patient and have compassion. Do the right thing and you'll be ok.

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  6. #5
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    You went to the funeral where all family would be present , yet didn’t go to the wake where same family was present?

    I’m guessing you thought at the wake you would have to chat and put in effort but at the funeral not so?

    And I’m guessing you gf (ex) thought so too. ???

    Let it go.
    You were supportive when it suited you but not when it didn’t. It seems?

    First hurdle? And fail.

    Sorry!

  7. #6
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    Originally Posted by Billie28
    You went to the funeral where all family would be present , yet didn’t go to the wake where same family was present?

    I’m guessing you thought at the wake you would have to chat and put in effort but at the funeral not so?

    And I’m guessing you gf (ex) thought so too. ???

    Let it go.
    You were supportive when it suited you but not when it didn’t. It seems?

    First hurdle? And fail.

    Sorry!
    The wake was only for super close and immediate family (not even extended family was invited). Everyone was invited to the funeral. I honestly thought during such terrible and sad day the close family (at the wake) would want to stick together, instead of making small talk and getting to know me. I thought my presence would have made the day even harder for them. I explained this to my girlfriend at the time, and she thought that was reasonable and said she understood. I am not perfect by any means, and hindsight is 20/20. I should have just asked her what she wanted, instead of assuming that I knew what would be best. I am an idiot, I agree. But I never did it out of lack of wanting to put effort in.

    In regards to me only being supportive when it suited me, that isn't true at all. I was in the middle of my mid year exams in medical school in the two weeks prior to her mother passing, and instead of studying, I always put her first. Instead of studying the nights before exams, I would be spending my nights cooking for her, holding her, and just letting her feel loved. I also took time off work when she was having particularly hard days, just so that she didn't have to feel so alone in regards to everything that was happening. I guess I could of done even more, at the time I honestly thought I was doing my very best.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    You were doing your best. Don’t beat yourself up. It just makes this all about you, and your “idiocy,” rather than about her grief, and the pain she feels.

    We are allowed to stumble a bit in relationships, to not thread the needle perfectly every time. Generally speaking—yeah, it’s always better to ask someone what they need and want rather than assume, and when it comes to sensitive matters, be it death or sex, it’s a great thing to remember.

    Still, you were there, you were supportive, you did your best. She simply feels the way she feels right now. Listen to those feelings rather than try to change them and blame yourself for them. That’s respect, even if it doesn’t get you exactly what you want exactly when you want it.

    You don’t need to be a total martyr to make up for this one “sin.” You can be hurt too. Just process that hurt on your own, without hoping she can cure it. If you can be there for her right now as a friend, while processing the romantic hurt in tandem—well, that’s the high level stuff that will serve you very well in life, wherever this chapter goes.

  9. #8
    Platinum Member Andrina's Avatar
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    I don't think you did anything wrong. And as far as the wake, I agree with your decision not to go. My friend's mother died and her stepson brought his girlfriend to meet everyone for the first time and she was too bubbly, according to my friend, at the somber event. If you went, your demeanor and behavior might have been placed under a microscope and it might've been that you were damned if you did and damned if you didn't. Your gf had only been dating you for 5 months, and she had other family for support there.

    You can't read minds, so she should have spoken up for what she needed at any point. She didn't and then blamed it all on you and didn't admit that she could have been at fault for not asking for what she needed.

    Regardless of mourning a family member, when a person is willing to let you go, it means they just aren't that into you. They know that asking for a breakup might mean that it's forever. A person that's into you will say, "While I'm in mourning, I'm asking for you to be patient with me. There may be days I don't feel like seeing you and I might not be as communicative. Are you okay with this?"

    From what I've seen and heard in person and on this forum, on again, off again relationships usually don't have a happy ending. If the person so easily dumped you once, they will repeat that behavior.

    It's up to you if you can handle a friendship for a certain time period. If you feel like it'll be too emotionally upsetting, be honest with her. If you decide to do the dance lessons and communicate by phone, set a personal time limit on how long you're willing to be a friend and stick to it, because you're putting yourself on ice right now. You won't be able to bond with another love interest as long as you stay in an exes life. Your needs matter too, so don't be a martyr to anyone. Take care and let us know how it's going.

  10. #9
    Gold Member Gary Snyder's Avatar
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    My girlfriend asked me to come to the funeral, which I gladly did to be there to support her. She also asked me to come to the family wake afterwards, but I told her that since I hadn't met anyone on her mother's side of the family, I didn't think it was appropriate for me to meet them for the first time under these circumstances. She said that was fine and she understood, but it wasn't until later that I found out how much that had upset her and how unsupported it made her feel (yes I stuffed up big time).
    - don't ever turn down an engagement/ date from your SO. (that said, I think breaking up over it is a little severe)
    Last edited by Gary Snyder; 07-25-2019 at 11:17 AM.

  11. #10
    Platinum Member reinventmyself's Avatar
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    You did the best you knew, given the situation. At one point she said she didn't want to be a burden to you with her grief. That's a confusing message and what do you do with that? Move in closer or back away?

    Having lost my mother a few months ago and I can tell you the grief is overwhelming. She's basically just trying to get through each day. She barely has enough resolve to take care of herself and it's understandable that she can't participate in a relationship at the moment.

    I agree that No contact does not apply here. If she felt you let her down, this isn't the time to shut her out.

    I can't promise anything will come from this, but what will is cost you to just be her friend at the moment? Maybe you can look at it that way, at least for the time being.

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