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Coping with Loss/How to help my fiance with the loss of his father??


Okay, well... I'm 20, and my fiance Paul is 22. Him and I have been together for a little over 3 years, and he lives with my mom and I. My mom agreed to let him move in last year around this time because his father is a drunk and would verbally abuse him constantly and smack him around when he was drunk. One time he came over my house with a nasty black eye and marks all over him and my mom offered to let him move in because she knows he's a good kid. Honestly, we would move out but him and I are both full time students and cannot really swing it right now. He pays her rent, and he's really helpful around the house. He does all of the yard work for us, cleans up around the house and helps take care of our animals.

We actually just got engaged, because we were just in Disney World, and he proposed to me there. Well, we got home Tuesday night and my mom told me that there was a message for Paul on the answering machine but that she had just skipped past it when she heard it was for him. Well, his aunt called and told him that his father died that morning. Apparently he took a bunch of medication, downed a bunch of alcohol and died in his sleep. Paul was silent for the rest of the night. I hardly knew what to say to him except for "I'm sorry." He has hardly spoken since then and he just seems void of any emotion. When he got home from work yesterday afternoon, I asked him if he wanted to talk about it and he just said "No thanks, hun. It's fine." and went to take a shower. He seemed upset afterwards and I asked him again if he wanted to talk about it and he started cursing and shouting about how he just "wanted to forget the bastard, but he didn't have to die." He went on for a few minutes before calming down and he apologized for going off and gave me a kiss. I didn't expect him to go off like that because he's normally very quiet. Never talks more than he sees necessary and always has a very calm, even tone to his voice. I've never seen him get angry like that. I don't know what to do or say.

I don't even know how he's feeling, because I know he hated his father, and quite honestly, his father was a terrible person. But on the other hand, he was still his father. I don't know if he's sad or angry or a combination of both, or something else entirely. I don't even know how to approach the situation. I don't know if he's even planning on going to the funeral. I don't know what to do. I'm just really worried about him because he's hardly spoken. Last night he went up to bed really early, and I came up to lay with him. When I got upstairs, he was just laying in the dark looking at the ceiling, and when I laid down next to him, he turned over and put his arm around me. So I assume that means he wants me there? But I also don't know if he wants to be alone more, and whether I should be giving him more space. Can someone help me? I don't know what to do for him. I'm worried. What should I do?

Dear Sara:

My condolences to you and your fiance; I know this is a difficult time for both of you.  

You know, we hear often that 'the human brain is very complicated' but I've always felt that the human heart is very, very complicated.   When your boyfriend's father was living and abusing him, I'm sure he (your boyfriend) felt like he hated him.  My uncle was a 'drinker' and my cousin's used to talk about how difficult the weekend's were for them because of his habit.   But when my uncle died, I sat at that funeral home and watched the hearts' of my cousins being broken from the suffering of losing him.  They barely had the strength to walk across the floor to his casket.  And when they finally made it to his side, they looked as though they would just fall over into that casket with him!

The truth is, we never stop loving the 'person', only the habit.  You've heard 'love the sinner, hate the sin."     Your fiance' has a lot to deal with.  Dealing with our own feelings can be the most difficult thing we ever do in our lifetime.  He may have had himself convinced that he hated his father  but, at his father's demise, realized that he hated his fathers' actions while under the influence of alcohol.   When your fiancÚ is lying in bed staring at the ceiling he is not shutting you out, sweetie, but, most likely,  remembering how 'things' were, things he has said to his father, things his father has said to him and wondering if there was some way he could have done things differently.  Guilt.  It will tear our hearts out,  ball it up and hand it back to us; at least that is what it feels like.  You feel like the only way you can get some peace is to shut off your mind and heart; but the good Lord did not make us that way.   

Your fiance' needs your compassion and understanding.  Sometimes just being there means everything to a person suffering a loss.  You need to assure your boyfriend that his fathers' death was in no way his fault.  If there were good times in the past between your boyfriend and his dad, help him to dwell on those.  Give him time to properly grieve and if you see that he is not moving on to living his own life, perhaps you should encourage him to talk to a professional, if he doesn't feel he has someone that he feels comfortable with talking with.

If you guys are religious it might be very helpful to talk to his Pastor.  I, personally, find it comforting to pray.  If there is something I cannot handle or I feel that it is over-whelming, I take it to God.  HE is always there and HE knows my needs and my heart.

I hope something I have said is helpful to you and I pray that your boyfriend will find the peace that he deserves.  He sounds like such a good person and you are obviously a very caring person.  This problem has TWO victims; you and the man you love.  Your heart is good and kind; let that lead you, Sara, and you and your boyfriend will be fine.  May God be with you.  Please let me know how you both are doing.     Joanne  

Coping with Loss

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Joanne Flint


Dealing with the death of close family members and loss of a friend. Dealing with betrayal; how to accept it, deal with it and move on.


I lost my parents, who died less than eight months apart and a newborn son three months following the death of my mother. A year following this, my brother died suddenly and a 19 year old cousin was crushed to death in a car accident on his birthday. Now I am facing the impending death of a very good friend. I have also dealt with the death of a husband. I have found that talking with people with similiar experiences has helped me and I have been told that it has also helped them greatly.

A licensed nurse for twenty four years with several years working on a Psych ward as well as being the Executive Director and Director of Nursing Services for a Group Home for mentally ill and mentally retarded.

Awards and Honors
Awarded top clinical and top academic grade at my nursing graduation. Also was a member of the English Honors' Class while attending a local college.

Past/Present Clients
I don't share information about people with whom I talk, unless given permission. I am not a doctor, but I have given insight and hope to people just like myself.

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