This past year has been a very trying one for our family. Now that she is gone, I just want to be left alone. My husband, children and sister have been a great support and I need them around me. However, I feel as if others expect me to move on immediately. My dad and his wife were scheduled to come in to visit (they live in another state) about ten days after my mother’s death, and I asked them to postpone it because I wasn't up to it. He took it personally and I found myself comforting him because I hurt his feelings. He has postponed it for only a week later.
He did not come to the funeral as they did not have a cordial relationship after the divorce. Anyway, am I wrong for not being ready for any out-of-town visitors or social events? They do not stay with me but will expect to get together at my house or go out frequently. I am having a hard time being around people that I know will be unable to give me comfort about my Mom. It doesn't help that I know my dad really didn't care. Any advice on this would be appreciated.
My response: I’m so very sorry to learn of the death of your beloved mother after her prolonged illness, and I can only imagine how difficult this last year has been for you. I’m sure you are exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I’m also sorry that your dad seems not to understand your reaction to this loss and your need to come to terms with it before you’re in any position to assume the hostess role and entertain company.
Keep in mind that the grief we feel (or do not feel) when someone dies is directly related to our attachment to the person who has died – and in that sense, this loss of your mother is not the same for you and for your dad. You are mourning the death of your mother. Only you can know how much your mother meant to you, and only you can measure how much you have lost now that she has died. It would be nice if your dad could recognize your grief as separate and distinct from whatever he may feel (or not feel), respect and honor it, and be gracious enough to “let you off the hook” by canceling his plans to come and visit right now – but clearly that is not the case. So it falls to you to let your dad know what you need.
Your first obligation in grief is to take care of yourself, my friend. It seems to me that you must state clearly and firmly to your dad that, although you understand his disappointment, the timing of his visit will not work for you right now. Explain that this time must be set aside for you to do your grief work. You might also assure your dad that, although you’re not at your best right now, you intend to do whatever you need to do to get through this sad and difficult time, and you have every reason to believe that in time you will feel better than you feel right now. If he presses you for an alternate date, you can honestly say that you cannot set a time limit for yourself, because according to what you’ve been told, there is no time frame for grief.
As you’ve already discovered, my friend, there are people in your life who will be done with your grief long before you are, expecting you to be “over it by now” or worrying that you’re somehow “hanging on” to your grief. I think the best thing you can do right now is to educate yourself about what is normal in grief and learn what you can do to manage your reactions. If you haven’t already done so, I hope you will pay a visit to my Grief Healing Web site, especially my Articles and Books page and my Links page (look under the Articles by Marty category for links to many of my writings). You might also take a look at my online email course, The First Year of Grief: Help for the Journey. I truly believe that having a better understanding of what you are experiencing in grief will strengthen your resolve in dealing with your father, and will give you the comfort and support you need at this sad and difficult time.
I hope this helps, and in any event, please know that I am thinking of you and sending you my heartfelt sympathy.
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- What "Time" Is It For You?
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