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Boyfriend Lost Dad
Q: My boyfriend lost his father last month, and I do not know what to do. I know their are levels of grief that one goes through; what I would like to know is... what to look for as far as a behavioral change. I know this has affected him quiet negatively, but there are bouts of being so irritated that he can't stand himself, with slamming and tearing apart anything that's in the path. I want to help him, help me, please. How do I do it?
A: As painful as it is to witness your boyfriend in such torment, all you can do (which is invaluable) is abide with him. If he is not physically harming himself, you or others, then I guess he just has to continue slamming and tearing etc. as part of this stage of his grief. We all grieve differently.
I am sure he would benefit from a talented, compassionate therapist; you may want to suggest that during one of his better periods and frame it in the context of your wanting to see him in less pain and feeling like you're powerless to help him.
Sometimes just directly asking him to tell you what he misses most about his father is a good, honest introduction to letting him talk for as long as he wants. I know you want to ease his pain and that his behavior may frighten you, but all you and his friends and loved ones can do is name his pain and let him know you are there day and night for whatever he needs. You are a kind friend for wanting to be there for him during this horrible time.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.