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Coping with Loss/How to help my fiance cope?

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Alright, well, my name is Alison, and I am 24. I just recently got engaged to my fiancť, Christoph, who is 33. He is the sweetest man I have ever met, and he treats me so well. He is so charming, and he is such a gentleman. Well, he was very close to his father when he was younger, but he passed away when Christoph was only 15 years old. His father was a policeman, and I think that influenced Christoph a lot, because he is a bail enforcement agent now (basically a bounty hunter) and he takes great pride in what he does. Anyways, after his father passed, he became very close to his mother. He is an only child, so it was just him and his mom for a long time. Well, Sunday night, we went over her place to visit her, and found that she had killed herself. Christoph was completely distraught (understandably) and inconsolable. She never showed any sign of depression, and now Christoph says he feels like heís responsible for her death because he never did anything to help her. He insists that this is his fault and that he was a bad son. Every Sunday morning, he would buy both his mother and I flowers and we would bring them over to her when she came back from church, and he spent loads of time with her so she wouldnít get lonely. I have never seen such a good son.
Anyway, he was given some time off of work, since performing a job like his in such a state could be dangerous for him. He has spent a lot of time just laying on the couch staring off into space. I donít know what to do for him. I suggested to him that we go for a walk or do something and he just told me he didnít feel up to it. Again, understandable. I made him his favorite foods and spent a lot of time just sitting with him. Last night he refused to come to bed, and he fell asleep on the couch at around 3 am and he was up by 6 am. Iím just worried about him, and I want to help, but I donít want to pester him. What can I do? Itís killing me seeing him like thisÖ How can I help him through this?

Answer
Dear Alison:   First let me say I am so sorry for your pain.  

Though your finance's actions are understandable, I believe, just from what you have stated, that he would benefit from professional help.  I know you feel frustrated and maybe even helpless at a time like this, and he is very lucky to have you.  I doubt, however, that   he realizes just how lucky he is to have you right now because of his state of mind.  He is, no doubt, trying to figure out where 'he went wrong' and , at the same time, determine why his mother would take her own life.

I have heard family members scream out in both pain and anger things such as; "how could she just leave us?"  "How could she just leave her grandchildren?"  "Didn't he know how much we loved him?"   "Where did we go wrong?"   

There are different types of depression; some are situational and people can sometimes pull themselves out of it.  Some depression is due to a bio-chemical imbalance in the brain.    When someone is deeply depressed, they can only see and feel their pain.   They have lost all interest in living and all they want is 'relief' from their pain.  They don't see things broad enough to think about the only child they are leaving behind or anyone else they are leaving behind.  They don't/can't think beyond finding peace.  

You're right to concentrate on helping your finance'.  Again, though, I think he would greatly benefit from the help of a professional or a Pastor.  If he has trusted friends, they might be of help just making themselves available to listen to him.    Your finance' sounds as though he has withdrawn and he might resist seeking help.  You might offer to go with him to talk to a Minister who knew his mother.   Another thing you could try is to take advantage of these quiet times when he is staring off into space and try to lead him into talking about his mother.  In talking about her, he will probably recall the things he did for his mother and realize just what a great son he is.  

I wish you well, Alison, and I admire you for your efforts and love for your finance'.  Suicide is never an easy subject and there are probably no direct answers to it because each case is different.  I hope you will keep me up to date how things progress.  

Coping with Loss

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Joanne Flint

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Education/Credentials
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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