Dear Annie: I have been with my girlfriend for 2 1/2 years now. She just lost her middle son to a drug overdose exactly one month ago tomorrow. She is really struggling with this. He was her best friend and, out of all her kids, the one most similar to her.
Since his passing, she has become isolated and more depressed. She barely eats and can’t sleep, and her health wasn’t the greatest before all this. She is having panic attacks and has been prescribed medication to help with everything. She is in therapy as of two weeks now.
The problem is she has completely shut me out. I just moved in with her in July, and things were strong between us before this. Now she doesn’t want me going anywhere with her and her other son. She doesn’t want me sleeping in the same bed. She doesn’t call me on my way to work anymore unless she has a question. She doesn’t even respond to my text when I check in on her from work. I just feel completely shut out and wonder why I’m even still here.
Will she ever get past this? She stated she will never be happy again. If that’s true, why am I here? I know it’s recent, but her whole focus day and night is strictly about her lost son. She has zero interest in doing anything — no watching TV, leaving the house or even knowing when she can go back to work. She has lost interest in all hobbies and interests.
I completely understand she’s grieving, but we are both in our 40s, and at some point, I do want to start living again. Preferably with her. Can you give me advice on how to handle this better and even a time frame on expecting anything to return to somewhat normal? I know completely normal is never possible. I am in a family therapy group that meets twice a week for grief and loss of loved ones. I’m just really worried after hearing stories that we may never get back to where we were. Thanks for any help. — At a Loss
Dear At a Loss: My heart goes out to you, your girlfriend and your entire family. Losing a child is an unimaginable tragedy, and it makes perfect sense that your girlfriend is far from recovered after only one month. It is going to take a lot of time and a lot of effort for her to get through this.
Right now, your girlfriend’s priority is not you or your relationship; it is her lost son, her living son and her immense grief. You need to have patience and grace for her as she processes this loss and learns to live a life without her son.
Eventually — with the help of time, therapy, and her loving and supportive boyfriend — she will be able to see some hope in her life again. At that time, you two should enter couples therapy to make sure you are still making your relationship a priority.
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]