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My boyfriend is taking care of his 85 year old mother. She is not doing well. He and I live about 3 hours away from each other. When we started dating we lived in the same town and his mom was in low level assisted living. I accepted a job 3 hours away and we decided to keep dating. Since then, his mom has become quite ill, has been in and out of the hospital and rehab 4 times in the last 3 months. She is currently in a rehab center but they are telling him her next stop will be a nursing home. He is her main caregiver, due to the other siblings being far away or having their own health issues to deal with. He has been spending all day and nights with her. I think he is afraid she will die when he leaves. How do I help him through this? What do I need to do/say when she dies? What should I expect after she dies? We had talked about marriage before she got so sick, but everything about our relationship is on hold now.

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I think that providing a listening ear and giving him space if he needs it is a good idea. Let him know that you are there to hear about his ordeal, but don't require much from him. He is doing all that he can.

He obviously needs some guidance since he's spending day and night there, fearful that his mom will die. If she is under hospice care, that can be warranted, but generally hospice care will go on for quite awhile and they will notify him if there's a change for the worse so that he can be with her. It seems that a social worker should be working with him on this.

You don't want to appear critical, even when you make suggestions. He needs your unqualified support if you can give it.

Please keep us notified. You need support, too, but he can't give it to you. Maybe we can.

Carol
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Do you know what her illness is? Is she on Hospice or has the doctor given an indication her time is limited.

It's difficult to give advice to your boyfriend if he hasn't requested it. No doubt, he's under a lot of stress and feeling scared too. It would probably help him to read what others on this site have gone through. For example, staying with a family member while they are in a facility is normally not recommended. However, if his mom is on Hospice, that might be understandable.

I think I would share my concern over his mom, her condition as well as his status. See if he will share his feelings. I would try not to push. If he will share, this might give you an idea of what is on his mind, but he is probably just worried and stressed. A lot of men don't like to share their emotions due to a fear of being weak.

With all this going on, I doubt he's had much time to consider relationship issues, since his own life is on hold right now. I understand you being concerned, but I don't think I would ask about the marriage until things settle down a bit.

Once she is in a nursing home, their staff will provide her care and hopefully, your boyfriend will see she is in a stable environment and give some time to his own life.

If she does pass away, I would come here and other places to read about the stages of Grief. In fact, your boyfriend is probably already going through some grief due to his mom's decline. That takes time. I'm not that familiar with it, but I bet others here are. I wish you the best.
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It sounds like you care a great deal about him and are sensitive to his love for his mother.
I have found it valuable to create a "safe space" to listen when conversing with friends under stress. Listening patiently, perhaps asking how you can help him, may help him open and release some of his feelings. Be real with him as a friend, because true friendship is very healing. Best wishes to you all.
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When my Mom was dying and after she was gone, I told my husband and kids what I wanted. I needed time alone and for my family to handle some of the day to day stuff like cooking and cleaning. I suggest you ask your boyfriend exactly what he needs. It is a roller coaster ride. Let him guide the way. There are no right or wrong answers. Best wishes.
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Just be there for him. Death is a part of the circle of life, the normal progression of life ends in death. Everything living will eventually pass, having said that it's not easy for those left behind. While he will always miss her, over time the pain will change. He has many memories that will keep her alive in his heart; she will never be truly gone, and that can be a comfort to those who have lost a loved one. Everyone grieves differently. I think it's great you are looking ahead to support him when that time comes. Be patient, lend an ear, encourage him to seek professional services if needed and let him know you are there for him.
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{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}
I am so sorry for your troubles. And I hope your boyfriend realizes what a wonderful partner he has in you. That you took the time to ask for help, so that you could be of comfort to him, shows not only your compassion, but also just how much you love him.
Comforting the brokenhearted is one of the most difficult things we must do as human beings. And you are making all the right moves. God bless you
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Perhaps try to imagine what you would want if you were in his position. I know that when I am feeling worried about my mom who is in a nursing home my spouse feels helpless and thinks that I need him around more when what I really want is to be left alone so that I can come to terms with it in my own time and in my own way.

Sometimes we feel like we are helping by being there all the time for our loved ones who are grieving or are in pain but they will usually let us know in their own way what they need. Just listen and wait. Your boyfriend will tell you what he needs. God Bless
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You can always tell a good man by the way they care for their mother! You found a winner!!! Your boyfriend will make a wonderful husband and you will be an incredible bride. Together you'll forever be happy because you are obviously two loving, caring people. I'm still figuring my own grief, but I don't care for smothering. I'd take all the wonderful advice these people wrote in for you, they all hit the nail on the head.
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