How to Help Your Boyfriend Cope With Death

Everyone grieves differently, but we’re all shocked when a loved one dies. These ways to help your boyfriend cope with the death of a loved one, whether it’s a family member or friend, will help you support him through the loss.

How to Help Your Boyfriend Cope With the Death of a Loved One

Sympathy Gift Basket for Boyfriend

A With Sincere Sympathy Condolence Gift Basket is a practical way to help your boyfriend deal with death. It’s a caring gift to send that isn’t too emotional, and it will show him that you’re there for him when he needs to talk about his loss.

The following tips on helping a boyfriend cope with the death of a loved one are inspired by a reader, who said: “My boyfriend and I have been together for a few months now, but have been friends for a while,” says P on How Do You Help a Grieving Friend? “He recently lost his friend to suicide and he carried out CPR on him. He doesn’t want to talk about it or even talk to me at all really, he just wants some time alone. I feel helpless. I want to help him through this situation, but I don’t know how. How long should I give him time alone? What can I do?”

Another way to help your boyfriend cope is to learn about grief, mourning, and recovering from the death of a loved one. A book like I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One is helpful because it describes the normal phases of grieving, which will help you understand what your boyfriend is going through when he’s coping with the death of a loved one. And, here are a few thoughts on standing by your boyfriend while he grieves…

Helping Your Boyfriend Cope With the Loss of a Loved One

There are five stages of grief according to Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: Shock/Denial; Anger; Bargaining; Depression; and Acceptance.

Family counselor Beth Morrison says, “Grief is a very personal thing, and we do not all grieve in the same way.  He may be angry one day, and crying the next. Experts say there is no time limit on grief, but generally two years is the time it takes to mourn a devastating loss.  He has to work through the pain of grief, and find meaning in his life again.”

Remember that you can’t take your boyfriend’s grief or pain away

Don’t worry about which stage of grief he’s in – it’s normal to travel back and forth between stages. That is, many people are in shock when a loved one dies, and that shock may still underlie the anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance stages of grief.

It’s important to remember that death is a natural part of life. In North American culture, we tend to avoid talking about death or grieving overtly. We’re scared of death because we feel powerless – it’s the ultimate unknown! Mourning suicide is more complicated than grieving a natural death. It’s worthwhile to call a helpline or visit a website that can provide specific advice on this type of mourning.

Accept that your boyfriend may grieve death differently than you

Helping your boyfriend cope with death involves letting him grieve his own way. He may not feel like talking or even being with you right now. He’s coping with thoughts of the meaning of life and his own mortality, and his inability to save his friend from dying.

Give your boyfriend space to process his grief

If he ignores his pain, then he’ll be setting himself up for greater heartache later on. One way to help him cope with grief in a healthy way is to give him a book on grieving, such as I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One . You can’t force him to read it, but you can make sure he has a copy.

Remember that emotional and physical withdrawal is normal for some men

boyfriend coping with loss

How to Help Your Boyfriend Cope With Death

When my grandmother died all I wanted to do was sleep and stare out the window. I didn’t want to talk, socialize, or be with anyone. I just wanted to be alone. I thought I was going to die, and I was devastated that I didn’t get the chance to say good-bye to her. To help your boyfriend cope with the death of a loved one, let him retreat into his cave.

Tell your boyfriend you’re available to talk about his loved one’s death

Send him a sympathy card, telling him how much you care about him. Write in the card that you’re there for him in whatever way he needs: to talk about his friend, to go to a movie, to take a trip out of town, or to go skydiving! Don’t pressure him to cope with the death of his loved one in any particular way (eg, by creating a scrapbook of memories or writing on his friend’s Facebook wall). Instead, let him you you’d like to help him mourn and grieve any way he’d like.

Let your boyfriend talk to you about his loss when he’s ready

Don’t be afraid to let him go. It’s frightening when your boyfriend doesn’t seem interested in spending time with you, but you have to remember that his coping with the death of a loved one isn’t about you. It’s about him, not about your relationship or your love for each other. Give him time and space to breathe, to mourn, to reflect on his life and his friendship. Think about sending him an email, text message, or note every couple of days – stay in touch without pressuring him to talk or be with you.

When your boyfriend is mourning the death of someone he loves, you want to be there for him. You don’t want to feel helpless or left out…but sometimes you need to accept that there really is nothing you can do to help him grieve, other than be there for him.

If you feel rejected or alone because your boyfriend isn’t talking to you, read How to Overcome Hurt Feelings. Don’t let his reaction to the death change how you respond to your boyfriend.

I welcome your thoughts on how to help a boyfriend cope with the death of a loved one. I can’t offer advice, but it might help you to share how he and you are coping with the loss of a family member or friend.

Fix Your Marriage

My prayer for you and your boyfriend is that you find peace, acceptance, and healing.

Article Name
How to Help Your Boyfriend Cope With Death
Four ways to help your boyfriend cope with the death of a loved one, whether it's a family member or friend, will help you support him through the loss.

Before You Go...

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Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
I'm a full-time freelance writer and blogger in Vancouver, BC. I created the "Quips and Tips" blog series; my degrees are in Education, Psychology, and Social Work. I welcome your comments below, but I don't give advice. I can offer you a prayer and a blessing, though! You'd be surprised how helpful a prayer can be....

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21 Responses

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Thank you for sharing how you’re helping your boyfriend cope with the death of someone he loved. I can tell that you love him so much, and you want to support him in any way you can. I know how difficult it is to stand by and watch when your boyfriend is coping with death…you feel helpless, alone, scared, and worried about him and your relationship.

    I just wrote another article on helping your boyfriend cope when someone he loves died, to offer more suggestions on how to help him. I can’t offer you specific advice or tips, but it may help you to learn how dealing with grief is different for different guys.

    My prayer is that you find peace. May you reach out to your boyfriend regularly, and show him how much you care. May you find the strength and courage to let go of any expectations you have of how he should be grieving or how often he should see or talk to you. May you be free from the temptation to push your boyfriend to give you attention or overwhelm him with your concern. I pray you find wisdom as you help your boyfriend cope with the death of a loved one. May you act out of genuine concern for him, not fear or insecurity about your relationship. I pray that you set yourself aside as you think about what your boyfriend needs and wants right now. Amen.


    • brenda says:

      thank you so much….i feel better after reading this. He is still hasn’t contacted me but i understand so I will continue to pray and send him a text in the weekend see how he doing.

    • Brandi says:

      This is my confirmation. These words are truly a blessing to me. May God saturate every area of your life with his unfailing love. I am most grateful. Thank you very much.

  2. brenda says:

    Let me begin by saying thank you whoever made this support group i need it right now so much.I met my boyfriend online we talked for 6 months since he was in the middle east. I am 25, he is 30. I finally met him march 17 2015 i was so happy and thrilled. We were both so happy to finally meet in person. Even though he was jeylag from his flight and was sleeping the whole time we enjoyed each others presence. I love him he loves me. We bonded so much over those 6 months. So now the next day he found out his mom has breast cancer she wasnt taking chemo so good. I felt so f’ing sad like why God he just came home and he has to hear this about his mom. It was heartbreaking me. He told me over text i can tell he was angry. Oh and his parents live in washington state and he has a 4 year old son from his divorce. He told me i am sorry but a relationship is not the time right now.i thought i was gonna come home to spend time with you and my son. Right now my mom is my priority we haven’t had the best relationship since my divorce. is not you is not me is my mom just understand that. Ima deal with this later just let me deal with my mom right now. I told him i am here for you all the way ima be by your side. I was being very empathetic with him. He left today to Washington with his son for 30 days. Iam so depressed and sad my boyfriend just came overseas and hear this bad news. I love him so much to the moon and back. Will his feelings change after his grieve? It sucks i only saw him one time that’s it. I wish i could have said goodbye and hugged him. I need a hug right now :(

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Hi. My boyfriend lost his brother 2 months ago. Everything happen so fast. He and I were sitting next to each other. He called his brother up on the phone. They were actually talking and then the phone hung up. Minutes later family members begin to call him to say that his brother had been shot. My boyfriend was shocked. He began to gather his things to leave because he also had to work later. I went out behind him and accidentally locked the door not thinking. We were locked out of the house for about 20-25 minutes. He was furious because people were calling him telling him to come quick. When we did get back inside we hugged and kissed and he drove to the hospital. I didn’t go with him because I didn’t think he wanted me to and I stayed here with our 9 month old daughter (I regret not saying “I’m coming with you). I texted him to see how his brother was and he said “he’s gone babe”. I was speechless. He showed up 3 days later with sadden spirit all over him but showed no emotions. He didn’t even invite me to the funeral. Days began to get longer when I wouldn’t hear from him or see him. I panicked and thought why? We both desire to be married soon and we were doing good in our relationship for the better. He later began to cry around me and talk about his brother more. I appreciated that. He was extremely close to his brother who was just 2 years younger than him. I spoke with his mother when I didn’t hear from him for days and she said he was doing alot of crying. Moreover, 2 weeks ago his aunt past. He did say he was starting to doubt his faith. But he’s still working, grieving, and moving forward. Now, the days are getting longer where there’s absolutely no contact. Nevertheless, he or I will initiate communication eventually. I’m giving him his space(extremely difficult for me) and the responses are pleasant. I did act out as being selfish and insecure at one point because I didn’t understand. We reconciled. However, this is brand new giving we were so close and now I feel like he never communicates with me and there’s division between us. Not sure how to feel after going from talking almost everyday and night to no talking at all. Eventhough, the times I do see him he assures me that we are ok. His behavior shows different.

  4. Emily says:

    My bf just lost his friend on his birthday I’m saying he’s being cocky and he said he’s not he’s lost his best mate brother and partner in crime and a school mate it’s this first time tonight I’ve spoken to him on the phone about it and he opens up and told me all about it he took his son to school and is in bed when I called him and didn’t feel that bothers in speaking to me but he’s been like this before his friend died so dunno what’s up with him on that part but I want to be their for him in everyday I can for him but I don’t know how can you help please

  5. Susin says:

    I posted here originally in Dec 2011. My boyfriend never did contact me. It’s been almost 3 years. I never pressured him. I let him know I would be there for him whenever he wanted to talk, but that never happened. I miss him now, just as much as I did then. I still love him. I hope you all have a better outcome than I did. I am still devastated, lonely, in love, and utterly helpless to do anything for him.

    • Allie says:

      I read your comment. I’m going through the same thing. The person I’m with is mourning over their loss of their grandma and they don’t handle death well. I don’t know what to do because they don’t see their pushing me away to deal with the death. I’m told it’s quite opposite because their telling me their feelings weakness they don’t tell anyone else but I see different. I see them shut down and acting happy sad distant etc. I’ve been told numerous times all her close friends know she can’t handle death and everyone understands and she’s been with someone who totally gets her and they connected at a deeper level because they both can’t deal with death. So I feel is it just words they’re telling me because I feel like I’m just in the way and I should just leave my partner alone. Let them go and hope and wish them well. I don’t know what to do……

  6. Laurie says:

    Hello Akasa,

    You can’t convince your boyfriend to go back to school. I agree that it’s probably best for him to go back to school and be with people again, but it won’t be helpful to try to convince him to do it. He needs to grieve his loss and cope with the death with his mother in his own way.

    Sometimes the best thing we can do to help a boyfriend or any type of friend cope is to just tell them that we’re here when they’re ready to talk. Put a card in his mailbox or under his door — or in his hand, if he’ll see you. In the card, tell him that you would love to sit down with him and listen to his stories about his mom for as long as he wants to talk. Give him time to respond, because he is grieving a huge loss in his life.

    The most important thing you can do is tell him you’ll be there for him….but don’t push him to do what you think is right. In time, he will be back at school. He may never be the same, but he will eventually participate in life again.


  7. akasa says:

    hey,this is akasa,i m nt sure if is hes my boyfriend or best frnd,we share a close relationship,unfortunetly so suddenly he loast his mom 2 two before.he loved his mom vry much i must say he actually lived for her mom.i knw hes too brokn n shattered,bt he needs to come up.he doesnt answers calls,text msges,n evn he refused to meet me,denies to attend schl ever.i knw ita a big loss,bt m too worried for u plse advice to hw to convice him to cme to schl sooner or later,bt he should come.

  8. Laurie says:

    Dear Nelja,

    Thank you for your patience – I hope you and your boyfriend have connected since you left your comment!

    I wrote this article for you:

    How to Find the Answers to Your Relationship Questions

    You probably already know that I can’t give you the answers you’re looking for. I can’t see the future, or know what your boyfriend is thinking and feeling!

    I hope this article gives you a few things to think about. Let me know what you think.


  9. Paula says:

    Thank you Laurie so so much for the advice! You were right after all. I left him to cope by himself, messaging him regularly letting him know that I was always gonna be by his side whenever he needed and whenever he wanted to talk about the subject. He still hasn’t talked about it. He felt pretty upset the day of the funeral but. His mates made a beer round at the top of the hill all gathered together, he didn’t went. He is focusing very much on his studies and on his job which is a relief as he can’t surf for now due to a bad ankle injury (yes, I know this is a way to take his thoughts of the subject but thank god it’s a healthy one). On the not so very bright side of the picture, we are no longer together. Due to many reasons, not the tragedy he went through. So to all girls, yes. I believe the best way to help your BF cope with grieving is letting him cry it out in his own way. Even if we feel it is not healthy to not talk about it, we express our emotions differently. So, just be there for him. Don’t stress or push him. If you have, apologize and tell him you trust him enough to do this on the way he needs to, whatever that way might be. All my love to you girls, I wish you all the luck on your relationships. My heart goes to you all who are going through this difficult time, and finally, thank you Laurie, for helping us, teaching us, and leading us in the best way you can to the right direction on helping our loved ones.

  10. Laurie says:

    I recently started facilitating support groups for people coping with loss, and I now think that’s the best way to deal with most of life’s situations! A good, healthy support group is a place you can share your struggles, and others can tell you what they tried – what solutions worked for them.

    If your boyfriend can’t seem to cope with the loss of a loved one, it may help you to find a support group of some type. Different men cope with death in different ways, and I can’t tell you how to help your boyfriend. I think the best thing is to stay as emotionally and spiritually strong and healthy as you can!

    Be there for your boyfriend, but don’t enable him. How do you do that? By talking to other women in the same situation — either online or in person. I think in person is better, but online resources are good too.

  11. Sarah says:

    I come to this website everyday to reassure myself that I am doing the right thing when it comes to supporting my boyfriend in his loss. His mother died about 9 months ago, It was extremely sudden, only about a few hours notice. We have been together for a long time, a little over a year this time but we were on and off our entire high school careers (we are both about to end our first year in college). He has good days and bad. But when they are bad, they are really bad. For a while he refused counselling, tried it, but now is refusing it again. He, as well as I, are young, and I know it is difficult for him to ask for help or even talk about what he is feeling, But I worry about him constantly. If he does not want counselling or opening up, I wonder is it even possible for him to properly heal? We go to different colleges in different cities, about an hour to each other, and worry about him surrounded by people that dont know what he is going through. I know everyone heals differently and I never push him to talk if he says he doesnt want too. But I hope that somehow he can heal or begin to while refusing to let himself grieve. Perhaps it will just take a long time.
    Thank you for all the stories and advice. It soothes a soothers mind every now and then.

  12. Nelja says:

    Hello girls! Well it seems that I have the same problem as everyone but I am closer to Paula since I am also in a long distance relationship and the things might be worse regarding the fact that we have been together for only 4 months with my boyfriend. His mother died from cancer 2 months ago, so it was 2 months after we have been together. In the begining he told me that he need some time to deal with the fact, which of course I gave and after a while (not even a week) he returned to its usual text and skype routine. But after one month he started to say that he is feeling down and then he became more and more distant. He now skypes me once in 3 days and sometimes doesn’t reply to my messages but he also is supposed to come after one month here. But I am kinda worry. Does he really want to come?And how am I supposed to act if he comes? He doesn’t talk about the fact but I have told him a lot of times that I am here and if he wants to talk he can talk and I miss him etc. Of course he answers in a very cold way. But he keeps on his usual life. Like going to parties and clubs with his friends, and althought he is skype most of the time, it seems that I am the only person that he doesn’t want to talk. I wonder, am I a bother to him?What should I do? Should I let him know my feelings? He also mentioned that if I return back he won’t be sad anymore but I don’t know whether he means these or he finds excuses about the fact that he is cold towards me? Of course I still haven’t mention anything about his way or how lonely I feel, but should I do that?Let him know how ignored I feel? After all it is 2 months after the incident.

  13. Sasha says:

    My boyfriend of 2.5 years just lost his father unexpectedly last week. Like many of the ladies commenting he is of course devastated and has crawled into the cave of his mind. Up until the moment of his fathers death we’ve been incredibly close and I even went out to help his family plan the funeral and take care of cooking / cleaning etc. Since I had to return to my job and he is still out there(its been a week now), our communication has gone down to almost none existent. I will text him daily just to say “thinking of you” or “how are you doing, if you need anything I’m here” but regardless no answer. 1/5 attempts to make contact I may get a one word response like “thanks.”

    The stages of grief are a widely documented form of life and psychology. Unfortunately, grief is not the same for everyone and being the person on the outside looking in on a loved ones grief is becoming increasingly hard. Of course you cannot blame them, you’re not angry, but its just such a shock to your system. Reading some of the comments above– about their boyfriends becoming a different person and the relationship ending pains me incredibly. I love this person but feel helpless to help him.

    Should my role be the supportive one? The distraction? A bit of both? Any suggestions are welcome.

  14. Laurie says:

    Dear Paula,

    Being there for your boyfriend is the best way to help him cope with the death of his friend. I’m not sure if the cute or funny pictures or messages will help. Recently, I heard a pastor say that when someone is experience grief and loss, the best thing to do is sit beside them and say, “I am sorry for your loss.” Then be silent. Let the person talk, or be silent. Cry, or whisper.

    Helping someone grieve isn’t about cheering them up. It’s about sitting with them in their grief, and letting them mourn the way they feel led. Sometimes it’s loud and talkative, other times it’s silent and painful. Meet your boyfriend where he’s at.

    I know it’s difficult when you have a long distance relationship. Do you and he skype? If your boyfriend doesn’t want to talk about the death or his feelings, then don’t push it. Skype him regularly, but don’t force him to talk.

    I hope this helps, and wish you all the best as you stand beside your boyfriend.


  15. Paula says:

    Hey girls :) First, thank you for this advices. They have really made me understand more on how to deal with what happened to my guy. A few hours ago he messaged me telling he just found out one of his best mates committed suicide. I almost threw up as I read the text. He had just came back from a huge party (he’s the ultimate party boy). All I told him was that I was really sorry he was going through this, and that I knew boys didn’t felt comfortable talking about his feelings but I was there for him whenever he needed me. “I’m just a text and a call away” (long distance relationship, Australia-Peru). He was going out with his mates, and I can’t help being worried for his reaction to this shocker. He does tend to drink a lot and the thing that scares me the most is that he might turn to weed or something similar. I feel horrible because I can’t even give him a hug. We always give each other balance, and now that we’re apart it’s a scary though he might go back to his aussie craziness. I have nooo idea what to do. To send him a cute/funny pic, a message, a song…my mind is just rumbling with thoughts and worries

  16. Sofia says:

    Hi my boyfriend lost his father in january, he rang me to let me know and was crying, he told me he feels peaceful listening to my voice, after we saw each other a few times and i got upset, he said to me that he came to see me to feel peaceful but me being upset has made it worse. since then he asked me to move on as he cant keep me happy. i reassured him that i am here for him and not leaving him. however he does not contact me at all i text him, and phone him but he does not reply or answer the phone. he told me he needs time.. i am finding it really hard at the moment, and if i let go and move on i will feel guilty all my life, as he has always been there for me when i needed him and the sad thing is i know he loves me more than anything in the world, his father and i were the only people closest to him.

  17. Jitters says:

    My boyfriend suddenly lost his father in August. Since then we have broken up, live in different house and rarely communicate. He has put himself into anything and everything to keep himself busy. We see eachother once a week but everytime we are together its as if my presense brings all of the hurt out of him. I was with him during the whole process following his fathers death and it seems as if he resents me for not being able to fix things. When i see him i see so much saddness and hurt. He is not making the best decisions but i realized a few days ago that i cant help him until hes ready to help himself. I have backed away and will let him reach out to me when and if hes ready. The worst part is how in love we both still are with eachother, but that life stresses have taken over and changed us. I didnt always handle the stress well and neither did he but living in the past wont change anything. Any advice on this situation?

  18. Susin says:

    I think this is what could be happening with my boyfriend. His sister died in September and in the month leading up to that, the family was told that there wasn’t much time left for her. He basically stopped talking to me when they received the news and it’s 3-1/2 months later and he still hasn’t contacted me.

    The only contact we’ve had happened when I went to the funeral and I went to my boyfriend to give him a hug. He told me he’d call in a few days. I told him I was going to go to the cemetary but he told me he rathered I didnt go, so out of respect I didnt go. I am not sure why he wanted this.

    He has not discussed anything with his family that I am aware of – but he did tell his dad (who I visited last week) that he just wants to be alone. I am trying very hard to not pressure him and to give him space but I am scared for our relationship. I would love to be there for him and support him but I can’t.

    Not really sure how to handle this. It’s been difficult without him but I know he was devestated by her death – especially since he didn’t get back in town from a business trip before she passed.

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