Why can’t they let her en­joy her­self?

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Health Choices -

Dear Keren My fa­ther died eight months ago. Sadly, he had to go into a home as he had de­men­tia so my mother got used to liv­ing alone in the last two years of his life, which meant she started griev­ing for him long be­fore he died. Now, a neigh­bour is very gen­tly ro­manc­ing her: a drink here, a curry there. And she’s rather flat­tered. But both my brother and my son think it’s way out of or­der for her to en­joy this new at­ten­tion so soon af­ter their fa­ther/grand­fa­ther’s death. And they’re mak­ing their feel­ings known. What a pair of up­tight lit­tle prudes! Af­ter the stress and grief of re­cent years, I think it’s lovely that she should be en­joy­ing a bit of at­ten­tion from a con­tem­po­rary of the op­po­site sex. I hope that if I’m in that po­si­tion in my 80s, I could en­joy the same thing! Su­san, Lon­don

It sounds just lovely and good on her! But rather than be­ing cross with your son and brother, stop for a minute and think about what might be go­ing on for them. They have a pic­ture in their head of your mother in a cer­tain role: I ex­pect as the ide­alised per­fect woman sup­port­ing and car­ing for her fam­ily. The fact that this has changed is ob­vi­ously hard for them. They now have to see her as an in­de­pen­dent woman with her own life and de­sires and they’re find­ing this very un­set­tling. What they’re think­ing isn’t based on ra­tio­nal thought but on deep emo­tions. When our core is up­set, we feel wob­bly. At those times, we go on the de­fen­sive and blame oth­ers much as they are do­ing. If you’re go­ing to help them feel good about your mother, ac­knowl­edg­ing how they feel and why they feel it will help you to be a lit­tle more com­pas­sion­ate. Give them time and I’m sure they, too, will see this is as a good thing for your mother. Re­mind them that a lit­tle gen­tle flirt­ing doesn’t mean for one minute she didn’t love and care very deeply for your fa­ther.

It’s OK to find love af­ter loss

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