Good-bye, Dad

1 Apr

Letterbalm Dad Fading AwayDear LetterBalm: A year ago, my husband died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. He was only 55, and we were all shocked and overwhelmed by grief. Two of my three grown children have moved on with their lives, but my middle child is having difficulty dealing with her father’s death. She and he shared a special bond over many things, especially sports – he went to all her team games when she was in school – and he was her champion when she had a mild learning disability at school. She can’t sleep, and she’s having trouble concentrating at work. She comes over almost every day for dinner because she doesn’t want to be alone. I tried to tell her she should have counseling, but she says there’s no point because she’ll just sit there and cry. I need help here.

–Tearful in Tenafly

Sincere condolences on the untimely loss of a good husband and father. It’s clear your daughter is bearing the brunt of grief in your immediate family. She’s in pain and in need of therapy. As her mom, her pain becomes your pain, even as you’re still dealing with the loss of your best beloved. You want your daughter to stop hurting, so you can stop hurting. Ms. L.B. thinks the solution is straightforward. Fix a delicious dinner, and when your daughter stops by for a meal, sit down and gently talk with her. As her mom you do carry considerable leverage. If she still balks, enlist her best friend to sit in on a future discussion. But for now, be patient and unfailingly kind, just you and your little girl:

Becca, you’re my dear daughter, and when you’re hurting, I’m hurting. You’re in deep sorrow, and it wounds me to my soul. But I wouldn’t be a good mom if I didn’t urge you to talk to someone who understands how grief can cripple a person. I understand that you miss your dad so much; he was very special to you, and you’re lucky you had him in your life for many years. But, Sweetie, you can’t go on like this. You’re grieving so much that your work is suffering and your physical and emotional health are under stress. I know you can’t see it now, but counseling will help you. I think you should make an appointment with the grief therapist we all saw after Dad died. She can refer you to someone for more long-term help. If you want, I’ll go with you the first time. But I want you to know that you must see someone. Continuing like this is not an option. Let’s make the call tomorrow.

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