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Bill Mooney: How will I deal with my partner’s departure?


Dear Bell,

My grief began with the sudden death of my father from a heart attack when I was forty. My mother developed dementia, fell and was not expected to live. She recovered well from the surgery – but then developed bowel cancer. Seven disturbing years ended in her fatal downfall. I was so sad because she was my best friend and also my best cheery mom. I never heard her complain but life goes on….

Our youngest son became addicted to drugs and hard times followed. After 20 years, it affected my husband’s health and he died within six weeks of his cancer diagnosis. I was catatonic with the shock and still think about him every day.

My son was living with me, still in the grip of addiction. It helped keep me going as I still hoped that one day he would be free and happy.

My eldest son and his wife were the tower of power. I also took my grandson to and from school which gave me a purpose, like walking their little dog. The son of my youngest son and his daughter also visited: I owe it to their mother not to denounce their father.

After two years with a walking group, he met a beautiful man. After five years we decided to look for a house together. My youngest son booked himself into another rehab, my partner and I moved in together and bought my son an apartment when he got out of rehab.

This was three years ago and he is now 50 years old, happy and clean. He loves his home and sees his son, daughter and 1 year old grandson. I finally felt like I had a worry free life and it was amazing.

But my partner has just been diagnosed with advanced cancer. I am so devastated and don’t know how to handle his passing.

Since the death of my husband ten years ago, I have lost five close friends, one of them (my closest friend) just three months ago. My partner is very brave. I’m taking the lead but I know he must be having such awful inner thoughts. How do I help when he says he’s fine? I will support him and hope I can find the right words to comfort him.

But at 76, I look into the abyss and wonder how I would handle the man I loved so much. No more holidays, concerts, walking together hand in hand in cool silence or chatting. A glass of wine together, they feel good…and young!

I know I’m going to howl to the moon again and I just hope the Force adjusts like it did last time. Oh my God how horrible I feel, just expressing it all. Very selfish when my partner is faced with something much worse.


This week, BEL MOONEY helps a woman navigate the possibility of losing her partner to cancer after the many tragic deaths of her other loved ones.

You are not selfish at all – so please don’t accuse yourself. Your letter (which I had to edit) introduced me to a brave and loving woman who has known so much grief in her life and is now facing a terrible loss all over again.

Thought of the week:

April is the harshest month for breeding

Purple coming out of the dead earth mingles

Memory and Desire, with stirring

Dull roots with spring rains.

From the Waste Land (Burial of the Dead) by TSEliot (1888-1965)

You say that you do not cry in front of your partner, because it will not be good for him, but that you cry every day in private. Of course you do. Anyone can. We helplessly weep and rage in the obstinate face of death—because that is what we are entitled to feel and there is nothing else to do.

Except for being incredibly strong — for the lovable guy who definitely has fear and despair inside, even if he’s hiding it.

Right now, you’re both very protective of each other – which I find very touching. But perhaps donning a mask of strength and acceptance in order to avoid the major issue is not the wisest use of that precious time you have left together.

You ask, “How can I help when he says he’s fine?” It’s a good question. But since you need his help as much as he needs your help, I’m wondering about not always “taking the lead” but trying a different approach instead.

There are no rules for a situation like this. But you can be true to your brave love and tell him that while he says he’s ‘okay’, you’re definitely (italic) not okay (italic).

Quietly you can ask him to hear you while you trust your own fears, your fear of losing another, and your deep love for him. It might make him feel stronger to “find the right words that comfort you” (italics).

True love must involve listening – so let him hear you. You are a woman with bruises and great grief; He knows that – so maybe he can extend his hands to help you.

And yes, put the practical in order. And go for walks and concerts. Look at the beautiful world together like never before. And enjoy those glasses of wine—always bent on the present, rather than on what’s to come.

You may have more time than you know, so use it well. And then, Maureen, when you need to, I hope you’ll write again. I wish you strength.

Dear Bell

I read with interest a recent message regarding a woman’s communication with an ex-boyfriend on Facebook and her husband’s behavior when he found out.

Same type of problem is affecting me. I’ve been using LinkedIn, looking for jobs after being made redundant in 2020. Some of my old colleagues are in the same location and we’ve been in touch since the company closed and went our separate ways.

The same site is also useful for me because my new company and employees use it, so this is a way to keep up with how the company works and the general conversations.

My long-term partner has always been a jealous person, and I recently noticed that I was wishing a colleague a happy birthday in a message on the site. She got mad, wanted to see the whole conversation, and accused me of having an affair with this person.

She got really upset about the whole thing and said she didn’t understand why I was communicating this way. But LinkedIn is the only type of social media I use.

Anyway, she read the completely innocent conversation — but now she moans every time I use my phone and go online, thinking I’m texting someone I shouldn’t be. She is throwing false accusations at me. These days the world is all about the internet and phone use online and she does a lot of the browsing herself, which I don’t have a problem with.

Now, in an effort to keep her happy, I’ve given up using my phone at all, but life is pretty miserable at home because of the situation.

I don’t see a way to sort this out because she accused me of deleting some conversations. I didn’t, and she could read it, but she wouldn’t listen. LinkedIn is a business and college communications service, not a dating site. I am so depressed and anxious about this but there is no brainer with her and I don’t know what to do.


How do you think with someone who rejects the mind? How do you talk to someone who has already made up their minds? Your frustration is palpable but you’re also admirably restrained. Instead of making you angry, your partner’s horrible, pointless jealousy makes you “depressed and anxious” in a “miserable” home.

I have known some (not many) pathological jealous people who have made their partners very unhappy. Such jealousy can feel like a form of coercive control in that it prevents their partner from behaving normally, having freedom, and contacting friends.

For example, I knew a woman whose husband was convinced that when she went to see her mother she was secretly meeting a young man down the same road who had taken a fancy to her. She wasn’t—but the husband’s interrogations and angry pouts became so stressful that she dreaded and underestimated those visits.

More from Bill Mooney for the Daily Mail…

Her guilt—when it was discovered her mother had cancer and in fact died shortly thereafter—cannot be assuaged. This is what jealousy can do.

In addition to trying to reason with your lady – have you tried to talk to her seriously about (Italy) why she’s so jealous? She even stops using your phone to try to stop her jealous rage, but it’s almost like an admission of defeat.

Do you think she has the right to control your actions in this way? I don’t mean to make you feel more accusatory than she already does, but to encourage you to try to get to the bottom of her behavior for the sake of your future.

It doesn’t take a degree in psychology to realize that jealous people are highly insecure. Perhaps it can be traced back to youth – being bullied at school, or when some aspects of appearance have deep feelings of inferiority, and/or the horror of not being loved, and the fear of abandonment. It can be a combination of causes that culminate in completely irrational anger that can destroy relationships.

When you speak, be sure not to be judgmental, but emphasize feelings of anxiety and sadness. Tell her you hope you can save your relationship in the future… but only if she agrees to talk to someone about her complex feelings of jealousy.

Suggest to her that she might actually enjoy three or four sessions with a counselor (see www.welldoing.com) because we all love to express our feelings.

You believe networking on LinkedIn is beneficial to you both professionally and privately. So you need to assert your right to do so, but also try to help her through an unsustainable situation that hurts both of you.


Two weeks ago, Abigail was full of gloom after personal disasters. Her GP seemed unconcerned with the medication after she prescribed it, which she didn’t trust. She wrote, “You’ve been let down by your GP (no surprise there, I’m afraid).”

Contact Bel

Bill answers readers’ questions about emotional and relationship problems each week.

Write to Bel Mooney, the Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email bel.mooney@dailymail.co.uk.

Names are changed to protect identities.

Bell reads all of the letters but regrets not being able to enter into a personal correspondence.

Then the GP objected, “Carol,” politely: “Please don’t encourage Mandarin doctors in general, Bill. Yesterday at a busy surgery of over 40 patients from 8:30 to 7 p.m. with time to rush lunch, it was no less than About 3 rude and aggressive people, one of whom made me cry, before we even started.

This sounds terrifying – and she’s making a very valid point. However, I couldn’t fully apologize. Our opinions of doctors are always based on personal experience. Both of my parents were well served by GPs, and we all know bad stories too.

In 2021 my husband went into surgery for a “something” on the back side of his scalp. The male GP casually turned him down with a prescription for some stupid cream. A year later (the ‘thing’ that’s still there and older), our GP fast-tracked him to the hospital and the basal cell carcinoma was resected. That First Doctor wasn’t “busy”, it was useless.

Anyway, my GP Carol asked me for a piece encouraging “positivity towards GPs”. Yes, I know many of them are committed but overworked. Still, Carol (however tired) certainly must come out on her own experience, as should all of us.

In stating the obvious, some general practitioners are excellent; others don’t. Likewise, in my many years of experience, I have met wonderful doctors and nurses in hospitals—and others who were tough and unsympathetic.

A senior registrar in Great Ormond Street once told me, with a gentle shake, ‘I only think of myself as a mechanic’–which was frightening to the distressed mother of a very sick child.

One thing I won’t do is bow to religion: “Our NHS.” Reluctantly, I can’t believe it.

There are a lot of mistakes in the system and some individuals and it’s not just a matter of money. Even if Carol is the best GP.

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