How do I talk to my girlfriend about her feelings and the situation ?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 17, 2016
Spencerman asked...

My girlfriend recently had to put her mother in a nursing home and I am having a difficult time talking/relating to her. What should I do or say to show that I am truely sensitive and care very much about what her mother and my girlfriend are going through....I am somewhat lost at words to say.....can you please advise and help me ?

Expert Answers

Brenda Avadian, brings knowledge, hope, and joy to family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. She cared for her father with Alzheimer's and helps families one-on-one and in groups. She is the author of eight books, including the pioneering memoir "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk through Alzheimer's and the Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's series. She presents vivid, compelling, and funny keynotes to both professional and family caregiving audiences.

When talking with your girlfriend about her feelings and the situation of her mother's placement in a nursing home, the best you can do is to ask questions then listen ... really listen.

Sometimes, the answers to life's challenges are within the difficulties themselves.

Without knowing more about how your girlfriend is doing, I can only guess she feels awful about placing her mom. Feelings of helplessness, guilt, and even embarrassment or panic (wondering whether her mom will be okay) may now fill her days and nights.

If I'm even half right about the assumptions above, she needs someone who will ask questions that deal with her feelings and then listen. She needs your unconditional support in holding her hand (verbally and physically) as SHE navigates through this difficult terrain. Be with her and observe how how she's coping. Someday, you may have to deal with your own parents and how you approach this will help you.

This will not be the time to provide solutions or even ideas if you're tempted. This is a process that must unfold in the time and space your girlfriend needs. Simply take cues from her energy, feelings, and mental state and go along.

Walk beside her on this journey, Spencerman, and both of you will make new discoveries on this unknown path.

Be sure to let us know after a week or two or even a month how you and she are doing?