Why can’t they let her enjoy herself?
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