How to cheer up my BF?
October 6, 2006 10:12 AM   Subscribe

How do I cheer up my SO? He just found out that his dad is in hospital following a hemmorhage.

His dad has hemophilia and such crises could prove to be fatal for him. He had a similar episode about 2 years ago and it did have a huge emotional toll on my SO.

Additional details: his parents are in Europe and we're in the States. He's very upset about this and afraid that his dad will die. I want him to leave work and go home with me, but then what? What can I do to make him feel better? Cook good food? Watch comedies? Talk to him and comfort him? What do I say? I love him very much and want to be able to comfort him.
posted by barrakuda to Human Relations (10 answers total)
Cook good food? Watch comedies? Talk to him and comfort him?

I'd say that's a good start. Just be compassionate and follow your intuiton.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:14 AM on October 6, 2006

Yes to all of the above, but go with his cues - he may find efforts to cheer him up (as opposed to comforting him) more annoying and insensitive than effective, depending on his personality and the specifics of your relationship. He may need you to rub his back while he cries, instead, or leave him alone while he talks to his mom. There's a whole range of possible responses here and we can't predict how he'll react.

Just be there for him.
posted by joannemerriam at 10:21 AM on October 6, 2006

Make sure he has the phone available to him at all times, and if you don't have an unlimited calling plan, get him a well-stocked pre-paid phone card.
posted by DenOfSizer at 10:23 AM on October 6, 2006

Yeah, I'm with joannemerriam -- Sometimes the best way to comfort someone is to keep them company when they're sad (listen to them). Don't be too attached to whether or not he actually cheers up.
posted by salvia at 10:37 AM on October 6, 2006

If his dad is dying, you might not be able to cheer him up. Just be around and let him know you love him.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:42 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

A stiff drink might be in order.
posted by milarepa at 10:45 AM on October 6, 2006

I agree that you might not be able to make him feel better, except to let him know that you love him & are there for him. Definitely making him some of his favorite comfort food or a stiff drink might help. I would imagine that in this situation he just feels helpless since he can't be there for his dad. Maybe you can send some flowers to his dad from the two of you, or try and figure out if there is any feasible way to go out there.

Other than that, if he seems to want to be distracted, rent him some movies, cuddle, whatever, or if he wants to just be alone, just try to not take it personally (that's something that's hard for me to do, but I've found that it can help).

Good luck & my thoughts are with your SO's dad.
posted by tastybrains at 11:00 AM on October 6, 2006

Just be there for him.

Exactly. Don't try to "cheer him up" (although of course if you do something and he cheers up, that's a good thing); it's natural to be unhappy in a situation like that, and efforts to bring him out of it could be perceived as not caring about his father. Just be very open about the fact that you love him and are there for him, and be flexible about what he wants and needs. If he needs to be alone for a while, let him, and don't take it as a rejection. And good luck; these things aren't easy for anyone concerned.
posted by languagehat at 11:53 AM on October 6, 2006

Many men, including me, don't want to be distracted when a major life problem appears. We don't want to be manipulated by anyone else, especially in those moments, no matter how well intentioned, into some alternate emotional state that suits their emotional needs for recognition, usefulness, or kindness. It is a great blessing when other people make a clear and succinct statement of their support and then give us plenty of room to be appropriately worried and preoccupied (even, and sometime especially if there is nothing we can directly do about the situation), and don't intrude on that, or take our silence and distance personally.

If your SO's father is clearly in a life threatening situation, it's entirely appropriate that your SO is upset, worried, and stressed, particularly if he is seperated from his father by an ocean, and not able to speak to his satisfaction with doctors and caregivers responsible for his father's well being. Moreover, he could be dealing with guilt for not being there, and potential guilt to his business committments and to you, for thinking about ways he can drop his life here temporarily, to be with his father.

If your SO is of a similar emotional stripe to that I've just described, you'd do him a great service to shut up and stay out of the way, and let him be appropriately worried and upset, without giving him additional problems, or thinking you know what is best for his internal weather. The phone card plan idea DenOfSizer mentioned is great, as would be keeping his favorite beer and comfort foods in stock, and waiting, with real patience and understanding, for him to say if he wants to talk or do something else with you. Boring in like you think you have a better plan for his emotions may be more than unwelcome, and unforgiveable.

On the other hand, if he's a puddled mess, begging for help, "sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at suppertime."
posted by paulsc at 12:05 PM on October 6, 2006

Go home, and give him a big hug.

I'd underline what paulsec and others have said. My wife was a huge help when my mother was dying a few years ago (I live in the US, my mother in the UK). It meant more to me than I could say just to have her there when I needed her, and to have her leave me alone when I needed to be alone. She was there when I needed to talk, and there when I just needed a shoulder to cry on.

Just do those things that make your SO feel comforted, and be there when they need you. Don't try to force them to feel better - it won't work. Just be understanding of all the wierd emotional stuff that they are going thorugh and support them...
posted by baggers at 1:02 PM on October 6, 2006

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