Geminus Corporation
8400 Louisiana St.
Merrillville, Indiana
46410-6353
Phone 219.757.1800
Fax 219.757.1950
www.geminus.org  info@geminus.org

Head Start all locations Lake and Porter Counties                  1-888-893-6891


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Ask Dr. DombeckAsk Dr. Dombeck:
Psychotherapy and Mental Health Questions

How to Help My Grieving Mother?

Sun, Sep 23rd 2007

I am a 42 yo woman who is living with bipolar II disorder and OCD. I'm married and have 3 children, aged 11, 13, and 18. Life is a struggle for me even when things are going smoothly and now I find myself in a situation that is putting stress on me in a way that is becoming increasingly more difficult to handle. I am hoping you might be able to offer some needed advice. In May of this year my father passed away and my mother was devastated. They had been married for 59 years and this was a monumental loss. There are 5 siblings in our family, 3 brothers and my sister and I. Two of my brothers live 4 hours away, one is close to home but works on the other side of the country 3 out of 4 weeks per month. My sister lives in the same town as Mom but works 12 hour shifts as an RN. I live in another town and am on disability. Immediately following the death Mom didn't want to be alone (which is completely understandable) so my sister and I took turns sleeping over at her house. After a month or so of this it became too difficult to manage so we stopped. We did however continue to do everything under the sun to help Mom through this difficult time. My sister took her out every single day on her days off and I have spent every single evening up at Mom's. I am not supposed to drive due to the medication I am on so my husband also spends each evening up there with me. He works full time and is growing tired of the constant visiting. Both my sister and I are beginning to burn out. My sister calls Mom twice a day and I call several times. My brothers usually call once a day. Although we are bending over backwards to help Mom, she repeatedly says she's always all alone and it's all she ever thinks about. My sister and I cannot be there 24/7 as we both have lives we also have to attend to. We've tried kindly explaining this to Mom but it's as if she doesn't hear us. She says we are abandoning and/or neglecting her. Direct communication just doesn't seem to help. She is having a really rough time now and neither of us know how to help. I'm scared of slipping into a deep depression myself and ending up in the hospital. Mom is extremely shy and is a very private person so over the years she hasn't developed any friendships outside of our father. She is resistant to developing any now. She only wants close contact with her children, especially my sister and I. My brother asked her to come visit for a couple of weeks and she refused. We suggested getting a pet but she doesn't want one. My sister took her to the doctor's but she doesn't want medication to help with the extreme anxiety. She also refused grief counseling. All that seems to placate her is if someone is always there at her house or is taking her out for hours every day, then visiting in the evening. Even spending an hour alone reduces her to inconsolable tears. I am desperately needing to know what I should be doing in this situation. My own well being is starting to be affected. The guilt of leaving Mom alone in her state of grief makes it hard for me to pull away.

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