The Hamilton Spectator

Consoling friend who recently lost her mom


My friend’s mom has been sick for years. Her father died years ago, so mom’s care has fallen on her and her brother. It’s been a slow and steady decline, and my friend and her brother have managed well.

It’s been hard as their mom was quite vibrant, but the three of them have been close and working together, helping her through her transition­s. As her mom worsened, I could see my friend was hurting. But she was strong and stoic whenever I broached the topic.

Her mother passed recently. I attended the funeral and helped her out with the constant flow of visitors. It’s been a week, and I’m surprised to see that my friend is falling apart.

I know it sounds odd, but I honestly thought she would feel relieved. Her mother was in pain, and she had told me it was hard to watch. As well, she spent a lot of time with her mother, which took time away from her kids, her husband and her work.

How can I help her when she seems inconsolab­le?

Helpless friend

Everyone deals with grief differentl­y; there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Though your friend may have shown a strong outward façade while caring for her mother, it obviously was taking its toll on her on the inside. Watching anyone you love suffer and decline is painful. I imagine your friend was holding it together for her mother’s sake, and now that she’s gone, all those years of suffering silently are pouring out.

She would benefit from some grief counsellin­g. As her good friend, you could do some research and offer her options. She may not take you up on it, but she’ll appreciate that you’re thinking of her mental health. Feedback Regarding the family who haven’t told their son he’s adopted (Jan. 15):

Reader “I believe I have relevant experience from a few perspectiv­es. Speaking as both an adoptive mom and a birth mother of an adopted child, I can’t stress strongly enough that, as you noted, adopted children must be told the truth from the beginning. Our children were adopted when they were early school age, and adoption is part of their story. They have birth family photograph­s, and they know something of their early childhood. They know that we are their parents and always will be, but they also know that they have birth parents.

“I also gave up a child for adoption when I was very young. We are in contact, and he told me he’s always known he was adopted, and grew up feeling happy and secure in a loving home. He was supported by his parents in his search for me in his 20s. He searched because he wanted to know about his genetic background and inherited traits.

“The parents referenced in your letter should not be afraid that their child will not view them as his parents. Some adopted children never search for birth parents, but they should be supported if they choose to. For my birth son, I am not his mom. I’m a nice lady who he sees occasional­ly. (And I’m happy just knowing he’s had a wonderful childhood and is living a happy life.)

“Those parents are making a terrible mistake. They need to seek advice and rectify this situation immediatel­y. That nine-year-old boy will find out eventually and it’ll be much better coming from his parents. If he doesn’t, their relationsh­ip could be irreparabl­y damaged.” Feedback Regarding the woman being bullied (Jan. 17):

Reader “Not to excuse the mean girl’s behaviour, but if the woman is becoming abusive, it’s possible that she’s being bullied/abused herself. Perhaps something has gone wrong with her marriage and she’s unable to voice it or get profession­al help. While it’s not the ‘nice bullied girl’s’ responsibi­lity to help the bully, she may want to have a one-on-one conversati­on and ask her if everything is all right in her life. It may allow the bully to open up and get help. Again, this is not to excuse the bully’s behaviour, and the ‘nice girl’ does not need to do this; she should protect herself and her own mental health first.”

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