Deceased Parents

Dear Advice Column,

I am a young woman of 24 years who has lost both my parents to cancer over the past few years. I have a boyfriend, but I feel that he has not been able to be there for me. Instead of being home, he has been busy with other things leading up to and after I lost my mother. Her cancer journey was very short and intense. My question is, how high can the expectations be for a boyfriend in such a situation?


Dear you,

First of all, I want to say that I am very sorry to hear that you have lost your parents.

When I read your message, I can’t help but wonder if your boyfriend has experienced loss himself. What you are going through is incredibly tough, and if your boyfriend has not experienced a loss, it may be difficult for him to understand how you feel. I understand your expectations that your boyfriend should be able to be there for you, but if he has not experienced loss, he may not know how to be there for you.

To give an example from my own life, after the loss of my father, I found that some of my closest relationships – both my boyfriend and friends – simply did not know how to be there for me. Something that helped me – and still helps – is to explicitly tell them what I need. This way, my closest ones can better be there for me because they now know what I need. Therefore, I think it might be helpful for you to have a conversation with your boyfriend about what you need and how he can be there for you.

After my father’s death, I also experienced that some of my loved ones really tried to be there for me in their own way, but I didn’t notice it because I was in such deep grief. In relation to this, I think it might be helpful for you both to talk about how you each show your support for each other and how you expect the other to support you, so you can better understand each other’s behavior and do what you know helps the other.

Thank you so much for writing in. I hope you can use some of my thoughts and advice.

You are always welcome to contact us again. We are always here to listen.

Kind regards from one of the volunteers

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