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My Mother is so consumed with grief she is not giving me a second thought.......

(26 Posts)
DrNortherner Sun 31-May-09 09:49:30

Dad died nearly 6 weeks ago, over the last 2 weeks my Mum has got even worse with her grief.

I have been there for her all the way, helping with everything. In the early days I stayed with her for a week, greeting visitors, dealing with phonecalls and the coronor and all the nasty horrible jobs. I registered his death, I saw his dead body, I took his clothes to the funeral parlour.

Since then I have called her twice, sometimes three times a day, every day. She has been to stay with us lots and we have spent days with her.

She is now becoming bitter, saying no one is helping or supporting her (not true), she says she is not allowed to greive and people are telling her to pull herself together. (not true)

She has always been a very negative person and prone to bouts of depression that I have spent most of my life helping her through. She says hurtful things about other family members such as my Gran never grieved for my Grandad and was flirting with other men at his wake, if I point out this is hurtful she cries saying I am defending her and not supporting her.

It is so hard to help her at the moment, not once has she rung me since my dad died, not once has she asked how I am coping. It's like it has not registered with her that I am grieving too. I feel like SCREAMING at her.

My head is full of thoughts and worry of her, when I should be thinking about my lovely lovely Dad.

I am also an only child, and feel like she is dumping too much for me to cope with on my shoulders. Then I feel bad for feeling like this.

It's all a huge huge mess and nothing can make it better because my dad will never come back. The future with my Mother scares me.

Just come off the phone to her and she was very hostile with me after we had a few words last night, I am trying to help but do not know what to do next.

Any advice or anyone experienced anything similar?


pavlovthecat Sun 31-May-09 09:57:07

I am so sorry you are going through this. I am sorry that you have lost your dad.

Grief affects people in many ways, and one of those ways is Anger. There are different stages to grief, of which this is one, blaming everyone around for not helping is common (for me it was certainly true when I lost mum).

CRUSE have a good website to help guide you through the different processes of grief, what you might expect your mum to go through. But importantly, what you might be feeling, and how you can manage your grief. If you feel ready, you can have counselling, to talk through your feelings, make it about you as your feelings are important.

When you grieve, it can sometimes feel like you are the only one who could possibly be upset or at a loss. It sounds like your mum feels like this.

I am sorry I cant say anything else. but corny as it sounds, time is a good healer. Although it does not seem that way now.

I hope you are ok.

Unicornvomit Sun 31-May-09 10:01:31

unfortunately, i think you are going to have to look to people other than your mother for support. if she has always been negative, defensive and unable to consider others, she is not going to change now, especially in the depths of a bereavement.

6 weeks is an incredibly short time though in terms of the grieving process

it takes probably a good year to process it and come through teh other side

you are both hurting, though it sounds like she thinks she is hurting more

i have no practical suggestions, i;m afraid, but can only say that it sounds like you have done amazingly well in making all arrangements and protecting your mother

you need to give yourself time to grieve too with the support of your DH and other friends/family


onlyjoking9329 Sun 31-May-09 11:54:45

Sorry this is all so very difficult for you all, I am guessing that you're mum is not able to see the bigger picture right now, which is of no help to you right now. In time that may change.
I hope that you have other people to support you whilst you continue to support your mum, I think people assume that family all support each other after a death but from what I know it is not always like that, there is a time of readjustment and a change/ loss of roles for everyone.
It would possibly be helpful for you to have someone unconnected who you can talk to about how it is for you.

DrNortherner Sun 31-May-09 15:14:36

Thanks for your comments. I do have a very supportive dh, and some fantastic friends who listen to me, so in that respect I am lucky.

I guess I just hav eto do my best to support her all I can.

Flower3545 Sun 31-May-09 15:38:16

My sympathies DrNortherner, it must be so hard for you.

Your post took me back to when my Dad died many years ago. He had been ill for a very long time and, in fact bedridden for a few months towards the end. My Mum continued working throughout his illness even though this was not financially needed.

My Dad was cared for by his sisters and his elderly mother who took turns being with him.

A week after his death my Mum was sitting with me and what she said took my breath away,

"right, now thats all over with I'm going to have some fun"

Until her death some 20 years later I never ever felt the same towards hersad

elvislives Sun 31-May-09 15:49:04

DrN I had a similar experience when my dad died suddenly. My mum wasn't downright nasty like yours but went into "helpless" mode and would ring me in tears asking if I thought she would manage financially (with her mortgage paid off by the insurance and more money coming in than we had to keep 6 of us).

All you can do is continue as you have been but expect nothing from her and make sure you get support elsewhere.

I also got very angry at all the well-wishers assuming that hers was the bigger loss...

Flower that is awful shock

Quattrocento Sun 31-May-09 15:55:00

Nothing useful to contribute but just wanted to say that I am sorry for your loss.

If she has depressive tendencies, I wonder if this is making the self-absorption worse? Might a trip to the doctor help?

JeanPoole Sun 31-May-09 15:57:04

dr northerner so sorry for your losssad

i think youve one a great job doing all that stuff.

i think i would nicely say to her, it hurts when you say no one is helping when ive done xyz.
but only you know if that would send her even worse, orgive her food for thought.

take each day at a time

FabulousBakerGirl Sun 31-May-09 16:02:24


I came to post expecting to say your mum has lost her husband which is a completely different thing to you losing your father, but actually I think you are perfectly entitled to feel the way you do as you have shouldered so much of this on your own. You have possibly protected your mother from a lot and she is lashing out at the only person she feels she has left.

GrannyAching Sun 31-May-09 16:12:20

Sorry for your loss, DrNortherner, and well done you for doing all you've done over the past few weeks, and being such a support to your mum. It's good that you have others to lean on and help you through.

Had similar here when my dad died suddenly 6 years ago, and I dealt with everything, and very willingly too. I guess there's no 'right' way to grieve or deal with these things. Took my mum a long time to come to terms with losing my dad after nearly 45 years of marriage, and we've gone through all sorts of different emotions and up and downs, and even now I'm not sure she's 'over it' or ever will be.

I've come to accept that she simply doesn't have the capacity or emotional resources to see beyond her own loss, and I've long since ceased to expect things to be any other way. I love her to bits, and do what I can.

GentlyDoesIt Sun 31-May-09 16:28:46

I am so sorry that you (YOU) have lost your Dad, DrNortherner. It sounds like you have been extremely brave. Such early days, too.

I have been through almost exactly the same thing. My advice to you is to ensure you have support for yourself; friends, partner, whatever. Of course you would hope for help from your Mum but it seems that she is not able to give it, so it is a waste of your hope and you need all the hope you can get right now. In some ways you have to surrender to the fact that she is not going to be able to parent you for a while, as unjust as I know that must feel.

Was your relationship with your Dad better than that with your Mum? I'm guessing the answer is "yes". This does mean that you could potentially have a difficult road ahead, as your Dad is no longer around to help diffuse things and take the attention away from any problems you and your Mum have. In some ways it can feel like losing both parents at once. I am sorry if that is hard to hear.

She is probably scattering her grief and anger in any direction possible now. Sadly, adult children can be seen as a safe place to vent and pour out feelings. Only you can be the judge of how much of that you are prepared to stand for. You are entitled to protect yourself, but please try not to explode at her, either - you are both so raw that it could do real damage to both of you.

Continue to offer support as best you can, but remember at all times that you are entitled to say "Right, I need to go now." Your Mum should not rely entirely on you for support through this and needs to find other people to vent her feelings to. It may not occur to her to do this if you are always there for her. Remember above all that YOU did not put your Mum in this position, and if she lashes out with blame and accusations in your direction they are entirely unjustified.

For me the hardest bit of losing a parent came 2-4 months after the event, when life was beginning to return to "normal", the numbing bubble of shock was wearing off everyone and there weren't any final duties left to be done - nothing left to do but face reality. Please take things very easy, get some time away with friends if you can.

Let us know how you are getting on, perhaps we can support you through the next few weeks?

abraid Sun 31-May-09 16:34:44

Dr N.--you sound like a complete star to be dealing with all this. You rock!

FatSuma Sun 31-May-09 17:16:05

DrNortherner - am so sorry for your loss, a horrible time for you as well as for your Mum and the rest of your family. I think GentlyDoesIt has some very sound advice, as does OnlyJoking as you might expect.

Sounds like your mum might need a place all of her own in which to vent - counselling or online - there is a good website if she is happy using the net - - it is for anyone but tends to be used by widows and widowers. It might be somewhere she could go and post her feelings "privately" (it's an open forum but you don't need to read it! and she can post under a psuedonym or as anon) and get feedback from others who feel the same way. There may be things she doesn't want to say to you, or she may go on there and say that she's getting no support etc, and get the sympathy she needs anyway that you can't give as you ARE supporting her, brilliantly, as well as dealing with your own grief.

A couple of books might help - Kate Boydell who set up the merrywidow site wrote a good book, you can see details on the website. Also a book called "is there anything I can do?" by Caroline Doughty (on Amazon I htink) which is very practical and a help for friends, family and neighbours. Pretty sure both books will have further recommended reading material.

Hang in there as much as you can but make sure you get support too, it is tough for you, in a very different way to your mum, but a massive loss to cope with yourself.


FatSuma Sun 31-May-09 17:19:15

oh yes and also what pavlov says - how about some counselling for you too, so you have your place and don't need to feel that your mum is where you have to turn.

and don't think about the future with your mum too much now, easier said than done i know. Please do understand that if YOU are scared, how much worse your mum will be feeling about her future now - esp if she is a negative sort of person anyway she will be struggling to see the slightest hint of light ahead and will be looking instead into a very deep dark pit.

thinking of you

DrNortherner Sun 31-May-09 19:19:31

Thanks everyone for your supportive messages. This is truly the worst ever experience of my life. I loved and adored my Dad and we always had a very close relatioship. He was the wisest man I ever met and extremley capable in any situation. He did difuse my Mother to a certain extent, he was a saint to her, often not appreciated, but he loved her and he supported her always - they celebrated 40 years of marriage just before he died.

I miss him every day, it actually feels like a pain in my heart when I think about him sad

DrNortherner Sun 31-May-09 19:20:52

Meant to say I will ordre her those books, but, as a complete technophobe she is unable to use the internet.

slowreadingprogress Sun 31-May-09 19:40:28

so sorry to hear about your loss of your dad.

I just wanted to say that it seems clear you have fallen into the role of the capable, supportive one. IME if we do things for people, they sit back and think we CAN do things.

I think maybe it would be healthy now for your mum to be made aware that you have kept it together and done huge amounts for her but you have had a loss too and your ability to cope is not endless.

I don't say this to encourage you to be hard on her or cause friction, just because otherwise the days and weeks are passing; and you do need to be allowed to deal with your loss in order to cope as best you can. And some of the dealing with the loss sounds like it's getting lost in your mum's needs and your kindness in being there to cater to her needs.

you have needs too! and maybe it would be healthy too for your mum not to always been the 'helped' but to at least be given the opportunity to help YOU. If her own needs are too great for her to take that opportunity then you can't change that, but at least it's worth a try IMO.

your dad sounds as if he was a real gem.

mulranno Tue 02-Jun-09 01:15:09 must express your own grief to survive. The pain of loosing this wondeful person is unbearable for you and you have the added pressure of putting your feelings to one side to shoulder your mothers grief. The truth is you are both hurting and it is the worst pain you have both felt. It is not a grief competition... no ones grief can be comapared to anothers.

Lemonylemon Tue 02-Jun-09 12:08:14

Just to add my tuppence worth to this thread. My Mum's a widow - my Dad died nearly 6 years ago. She's a "glass half-empty" person.

I'm also a widow. My OH died nearly 2 years ago while I was pg with our daughter. So, I've seen things from both sides of the fence, if you see what I mean.

The loss of my Dad was so sad, but he was 78, had lived a good life and had been with my Mum for over 40 years. I was very close to him and I feel like I've lost my mentor, as well as my lovely Dad.

The loss of your OH is just devastating. DrNortherner's mum is ONLY 6 weeks into the long journey she didn't choose. DrNortherner's mum (or indeed DrNortherner herself) might find some insight/comfort from the Merry Widow website. Lots of us widows find that our self-confidence takes an almighty bash, our sense of who we are, where we are, what our life is about are skewed. It's literally like being whacked round the head with a baseball bat. Your thoughts are incoherent, you feel as if you've had your skin peeled off and your nerves are open to the air, you can't make sense of anything. This can last for absolutely ages.

Please don't think that I don't have any sympathy for the OP - I do. But I thought I'd give a bit of an insight into the world of widowhood too.

GentlyDoesIt Tue 02-Jun-09 14:20:26

Lemonylemon I am sorry for your loss. Really pleased that you have the support of the website.

I agree with mulranno when she says that no-one's grief can be compared to another's. I don't think it's helpful to someone who is grieving to be reminded that it could be worse because a) this might be the worst bereavement of their entire life, and b) I don't agree that some types of loss are guaranteed to be harder than others. It all depends on how much one individual means to another, rather than how they were related (or indeed if not related at all).

Take my maternal Granny, for example. When my Dad died, she said that she found losing her son-in-law much harder than the death of her own husband 7 years previously (which sent her off the rails at the time, too).

ajandjjmum Tue 02-Jun-09 14:35:04

So sorry for the loss of your Dad Dr. N. - I loved my parents equally, but my Dad was my hero until the day he died. Still is sad.

My mum always tries to protect me, but inevitably I dealt with loads of stuff for her. I do have a brother, but he's miles away and had a young family, so it was hard.

I did find that in time it was better to let her sort out some issues, when previously I'd been taking the 'let me deal with it' attitude, because that helped her to start getting back on her feet.

Having said that, 6 weeks is too soon for you to even be thinking of normality, and I am sorry that your mum's grief isn't giving you any time to look after yourself - that's important too!

How lucky were we to have wonderful fathers? smile

Oliveoil Wed 03-Jun-09 13:41:07

oh sweetie I just searched for your name and saw all these threads about your dad sad

so so sorry

oliveoil 654 @ hotmail dot co dot uk


Tortington Wed 03-Jun-09 13:44:36

so sorry for your loss.

i too am an only child, so i understand the strain.

you are doing the best you can.

you are grieving too. allow yourself some time to do that.

DrNortherner Sat 06-Jun-09 18:19:06

Thanks Olive an Custy.

Olive how is life in Aus? Thanks for the email addy - I shall drop you a line xx

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