DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend of 10 years, "Ethan," lost his mother to suicide 11 years ago on Dec. 31. The first couple of years after her death, he'd put on a happy face during the holiday season. But in recent years he has gotten more and more moody. I love the season, from Halloween all the way through my birthday in February. I enjoy making my loved ones happy during this time, but no matter what I do, it doesn't work for Ethan.
I understand there's no limit to how long you can mourn someone, especially your mother. I couldn't imagine losing mine, but how can I get him to not drag everyone down into the funk he puts himself in? I don't want to downplay Ethan's emotions, but even when we are opening presents together, he has an "I don't give a ----" face.
For the last few winters all we seem to do is argue about nothing or everything. I am at the point of walking on pins and needles around him to avoid being sad during a time I love so much. I'm at my wits' end.
He went to therapy for a little while, but stopped because he no longer had the time. (He works two jobs and is on call basically 24/7.) I work as well, and have asked him to quit one of the jobs because he is getting older (mid-40s) and it's not good for his health. What else can I do? -- NO COMFORT IN JOY
DEAR NO COMFORT: Sympathize with Ethan, tell him that it's clear he is still hurting, and suggest he talk with another therapist because depression may run in his family. You should also tell him that his "funk" is contagious and you would like to be able to enjoy the holidays. Or, consider socializing less with Ethan from October through February and spend the time with others like you who would like to celebrate.