Two years ago, we found out my Dad was terminally ill, and unfortunately, he passed away within a few months of his diagnosis. I had just started dating my current boyfriend, Gareth. We were in the middle of that heart-warming honeymoon phase, but now I had the heartache of losing a parent to contend with. Gareth’s support during this time made me stronger, but it also made our relationship stronger. Here are our tips for how to be there for your partner during a crisis.
Provide a space (with no judgement) to talk
Depending on the crisis, your partner will feel a range of emotions, from upset, to anger, to confusion. Sometimes, they will need space to talk through these emotions, with no judgement or needing to “fix” it. Providing your partner with this safe space will strengthen your trust and dependability during these tough periods.
Put yourself in your partner’s position (and react accordingly)
If you’re unsure how to act, simply put yourself in your partner’s position, and ask yourself how you’d wish to be treated in that time. This is a great way to empathise and connect with your partner. Phrases like ‘If I were in your position, I would feel the same way’ or ‘that would frustrate/upset/confuse me too’ are simple, reassuring ways to empathise and validate their feelings.
Maintain a balance of space and support
Sometimes during a crisis, support from family and friends can become very overwhelming for the person. When my Dad passed away, I was inundated with messages from family and friends with their love and support. Although the messages were lovely to read, they soon became very overwhelming. Spending time with Gareth, and talking about things other than my Dad, gave me a much-needed refuge. If your partner becomes overwhelmed, find out if time doing something else would help. It could be a date night, a pamper night in or a film. It can help to give them some time away from the situation.
Remember – you don’t have to have all the answers or know exactly what to say or do. If you love them and make an effort to be there for them, they will feel your support. The fact that you’re reading this means you’re already on the right track!