I’m sorry for your partner’s loss and for your hurt and confusion. Please understand that she is grieving. Grief is different than depression. The death of a parent, especially such a tragic and unexpected death, can be very, very hard. Her mother has been gone for only 5 months. It is not at all unusual for it to take a year or more for a person to fully metabolize a significant loss.
Your partner’s relationship with you is significantly different than her relationship with her friends. She loves you. On some level, she may feel that to love carries too great a risk. She may think she simply couldn’t stand another loss. To protect herself, she may be distancing from you for a bit.
According to HelpGuide’s website, “Inevitably, the grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold. As time passes following a significant loss, such as the death of a loved one, it’s normal for feelings of sadness, numbness, or anger to gradually ease. These and other difficult emotions become less intense as you begin to accept the loss and start to move forward with your life.”
My suggestion to you is that you focus on her for now. Love her unselfishly. Be there for her. Don’t expect a lot back. Give her time and space to grieve. Ask her what she most wants to do to remember her mother and try to respect whatever activities she thinks will give her comfort. As she moves through the normal stages of grief, she will most likely gradually resume the closeness with you. Every now and then, she is likely to have periods of hours or even a day or two when she will need to revisit her grief fully. Please don’t feel threatened by it. It’s part of the process.
I wish you well.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on February 25, 2010.