Mom in Mourning

25 Aug

Dear LetterBalm: My father died last year after a long and terrible illness. My mom cared for him at home until he had to go to a nursing home for the last five years of his life. This cast a pall over the family. I’m 21, and I live at home. I’m about to go into the last year of college locally. I’m getting my bachelor of science to be a dental hygienist, and I hope to get a job and be on my own after that. The problem is my mom. Since my dad’s death, she’s always sad and depressed. She doesn’t enjoy the things she used to, and she is negative about everything. She snaps at me all the time. I feel like I should help her, but what can I do?

–Anxious Daughter

Your mom lost her husband under particularly tragic circumstances. It’s devastating to watch a loved one fade away over time. You didn’t say how this affected you. Your dad was ill for much of your life, and this had to take its toll, including the fact that you had to grow up quickly. You can’t think that you are in charge of making your mom O.K. So, Ms. L.B. suggests you ask someone your mom trusts – her sibling or a longtime friend, for example – to have a talk with her and convince her to seek help. Approach this person and say this, privately:

Aunt Kate, I’m really worried about Mom. She trusts you, and I need your help. Since Dad died she’s been sad and depressed. She doesn’t like the things she used to, and she has no patience for anything. She’s very negative, and she snaps at me. I think she needs to see the doctor. Maybe she needs medicine, maybe she needs counseling with someone who can help her. Can you talk to her and, maybe, go with her to the doctor? You’ll probably have to convince her and tell her I’m upset. I really love her and hate to see her so unhappy. Can you help me?

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