Mother comforts her heartbroken daughter
Mother comforts her heartbroken daughter

How can I support my heartbroken daughter?

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a mother who is concerned for her heartbroken daughter.

Fiona Caine
Thursday 29 April 2021 12:30

The problem…

“When my 22-year-old daughter got engaged a few months ago, we were all thrilled and she was so happy and excited. We started making plans and she was online all the time, looking at wedding dresses and planning her big day. She wanted to be ready as soon as the shops opened, and she soon became very clear about what she wanted and who she wanted to invite.

“Last week though, her fiancé called to tell her he wanted to break it off. He says he’s confused and unsure about what he really wants, and that having been furloughed, he’s been able to think long and hard about it.

“Inevitably, my daughter has taken this badly, especially as he continues to tell her that he loves her. She has suggested they get together to discuss, but he says he doesn’t really want to go out, as he doesn’t believe it’s safe yet.

“His father died las year – not from Covid he’d been ill a long time – and I’m wondering if this is causing his reluctance to make a commitment to my daughter. Do you think this is the case, or has he just got cold feet? What can I do to help my daughter, as she’s so unhappy?”

Fiona says…

“I am so sorry to hear that this has happened to your daughter – it must be heart-breaking when someone who apparently loves you goes back on their commitment. But with all the trauma this young man has been through, it is perhaps not surprising that he doesn’t really know where he is and what he wants.

“Covid has depressed and caused doubt and anxiety in a great many people, and having to cope with the death of someone close as well could easily have tipped this young man over the edge.

“Love and support are what your daughter needs now, and I suspect her fiancé could do with much the same. A reluctance to make decisions and socialise are classic symptoms of grief, and both suggest that her fiancé may well be finding it hard to come to terms with his father’s death.

“Perhaps encourage your daughter to share her feelings of devastation with you, rather than with him. If she can give him more time and be supportive of him and the way he is feeling – if that is what they both want – it may help put his mind at rest. Once he has had a chance to grieve for his father, he may well realise that she is the one for him.

“If he still shows signs of anxiety and depression, then bereavement counselling may be needed. Your daughter could contact Cruse Bereavement Care (cruse.org.uk) on his behalf for further information. They offer free help and advice to all bereaved people through individual or group counselling.

“Grief is overwhelming and can be devastating, so it’s really not surprising that he can’t make a commitment at this time, but it’s very positive that he says he still loves her. I hope, in time, these two young people will be able to tie the knot and be together.”

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.