Dear Barb:

Dear Barb:

Following my father’s diagnosis of terminal cancer, I decided to attend Athabasca. The flexibility would allow me to help my mom care for my dad. My father survived for one year and it was a difficult year for all of us. It has now been six months since my father passed and I’m worried about my mom, she is acting like a totally different person. She is out partying all the time with some new friends she has met. My parents married at a young age and were married for over 25 years. This behaviour is so out of character for her. I’ve tried to talk to her and she just gets angry with me. Is this normal behaviour? I’m not sure what to do.
Thanks, Kory.

Hi Kory:

There is no “normal” behaviour for grieving people. Everyone grieves in his or her own way. Since your parents were married young, she may be just picking up where she left off before she got married. This is a completely new life for your mom and she now has to find a new way to live without your father. I really think you need to give her some time to adjust to the world that has been thrust upon her. My advice would just be to try to be available for your mom if she needs help or to talk, which you seem to be doing already. Grief is a complicated emotion, as I’m sure you realize since you have to deal with your own grief as well.
Thanks Kory and check out the letter below.

Dear Barb:

My sister lost her husband two years ago and she is still depressed. She has a young daughter and we have to help to take care of her. Julie cries all the time and barely functions. She is only in her thirties and the loss of her husband was a tragedy for everyone. I just don’t know what to do to help my sister to move on with her life. Even her young daughter is not providing Julie with the motivation to carry on. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to help my sister?
Thanks, Michelle.

Hi Michelle:

As I just mentioned to Kory in the above letter, everyone handles grief in their own way. Your sister is not progressing through the process of grief. According to the book On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, there are five stages to grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Individuals may progress quickly or slowly through the stages, and may even get stuck in one of the stages for a prolonged time. Your sister seems to be stuck in a depression and since it’s been two years she may very well need a bit of professional help at this point. Perhaps a support group would be helpful, as she will have an opportunity to share her feelings and offer emotional support to others. Your family doctor would be able to direct you to support groups in your area. I hope this helps Michelle.

Email your questions to voice@voicemagazine.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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