My girlfriend's mum is terminally ill with some heart issues, and is currently in the intensive care unit in hospital in an induced coma. My girlfriend doesn't really talk about how she feels, but is obviously very down. Her mother has been ill since she was born, with a very rare heart disease that I forget the name of, and she always knew that she might not make it into old age (her mother is only in her 30s and my girlfriend is only 19, sorry if this isn't the right website for this sort of question but didn't know anywhere else to ask). She mostly just tries to get on with it but her mum is considerably ill. I'm trying to be there for her if she ever wants to talk, without being too pushy, but I don't feel like I'm helping at all. I'm no good with reading emotions and have literally no idea how best to show you're there for someone and to provide tangible, practical support. What would be the best way of going about helping her? We haven't been together for very long, only a few months, and don't feel like it's appropriate for me to get involved too much. Just looking for any advice really, on how I can make this as 'easy' as possible for her. Thank you in advance.

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Thank you both for the responses, I hadn't really thought of stuff like helping to manage visits or do the domestic tasks at the house. I'll definitely start doing those. She does work, but she has funny hours and to be fair, her work have been very supportive giving her the time off whenever she needs it. Unfortunately, I don't have access to any transport myself so can't really help in that regard, but I can meet her at the hospital and accompany her home if she wanted me to.

She has two younger siblings who don't know the extent of the condition and their mother's hospital admission, but I know that they're feeling down too. I'll offer to drop them off and collect them from school if she would prefer to stay at the hospital. I get on with both of them as well so would be able to keep them occupied at home to give her a break.

Thank you for all the fantastic suggestions, it is very much appreciated and will hopefully go some way to helping the whole family :)
Helpful Answer (0)

I would just be sure to remind her that you are available for her. Some people need reminding as they think that asking for a favor as being an imposition. I don't get it, but some people are like that. So, I 'd just tell her every once and awhile that I was there and that whenever she wanted to talk or to get away, just to let you know.

You might ask her what her time availability is. With her mom being very ill, she might feel odd going to the zoo or a hike, but she might be okay with walking around the hospital grounds or having a picnic nearby. I'd take her lead on that.

I'd keep in mind that she must be very stressed. There's only so much you can do. Flowers might help, but dealing with the impeding loss of her mom is something that she will have to get through over time. I would hope that she would seek support from other family members, clergy and grief counselors. It's nice that you want to support her.
Helpful Answer (1)

Both your GF and her mother are very young to be facing such a traumatic loss. You seem like a wise, insightful and compassionate person - she's fortunate to have you at her side at this time.

You obviously sense that she doesn't want to discuss the situation; just tell her that if she ever does, you're there for her. Then listen, be supportive but never judgmental, although I suspect you already realize that.

Is she working? If so, does she need transportation? Taking her there and picking her up might be one method of support. It relieves her from focusing on traffic when her mind is elsewhere.

You could also take her to the hospital, then out for a snack, lunch or dinner, which often is a way to wind down after an emotional visit.

Can she use help at home, cleaning, cooking, etc.? If so, you could volunteer to help that way. Does she have siblings? You could volunteer to provide updates to them or try to coordinate their visits so that her mother doesn't have too many at one time and none at others.

Bear in mind though that if she's in a coma, there's no way of telling whether or not she is in fact able to sense that people are visiting. (I raised this issue when my father was in a medically induced coma. The brain wave monitoring machine did reflect that he was responding to stimuli, specifically, music.)

Perhaps the most thorough method is to think of everything she does in terms of work, visiting, financial and/or medical decision making, and try to find ways to offer assistance, whether it's doing research on her mother's condition, planning in advance for funeral arrangements, contacting family to update and/or request visits, providing transportation, getting groceries, etc.

Then think of ways you can help with these tasks, such as sending e-mails for her, doing research, etc.

It's easy when someone is very preoccupied with the health of a parent to subconsciously set aside everyday tasks, including paying bills. Can you think of ways to help her daily, to provide assistance and relieve her from the doldrums of daily tasks?

It wouldn't hurt also to slip greeting cards expressing support to her, and suggest she open them when she gets home or when she feels alone.

Alternately, if you were in her situation, what kind of support would you want?
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