Not sure what step to take next.

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I am at a loss as to the next step to take. My mother is 61 and it seems like she is giving up. My father passed away very suddenly about 7 years ago. My mom has taken it hard and has been prescribed xanax. She was very controlling after this happened as well. She insisted that my husband come over and mow the lawn. That used to be my dads chore. My husband doesnt mind helping out but he thinks that since there is nothing wrong with her physically that she can do it. She has done it in the past and there really isn't anything wrong with her physically. Also she has recently had some work done on the house. She had to pack up some of her things. The work has been done for over 5 months and she refuses to put her house back together. On her time off she just sits in front of the TV. She has no ambition to do any thing. My dads clothes are still sitting in the closet. She refuses to do anything with them. She is great at making excuses as to why she has no time to do it. She refuses to talk to anyone (counselors) as she doesn't want to pay for it. She is not destitute she just doesn't want to "waste the money". My relationship with her is deteriorating as is my brothers. I am afraid of what my children's and my nephews perception of her is going to be in the long term as well as what lessons they may be learning from her behavior. I am afraid that she is going to continue her spiral downwards. Any recommendations as to how I can help her from doing just that?


It would seem that your mother is stuck in the denial stage of her grief. Seven years is a very long time but everyone grieves at a different speed and has to work though all the stages before they can let go and move on. My suggestion is that you should seek counceling to obtain knowledge on how best to help your mother. This is not a question of telling her to pull herself up by her bootstraps. At least she is working which is good. Your mother is not behaving badly she really can't help it and desperately needs a hand to help her up out the deep dark pit she has fallen into.
She definitely sounds depressed. She needs a new doctor who will work with her on the depression issue and if her current medication isn't working, then try something else. I wouldn't harp at her about your dad's things. For some people, that's just really hard to deal with. I'm more concerned with her lack of care for herself. Is there any way you could get her to either get out for some group activities (widows' support groups for example - I have some very good friends who have found them to be extremely helpful), or to get some "pampering" done (manicures/pedicures) together...something fun that you could do together that might give her a spark of feeling better about herself and the world in general? Does she take any delight in her grandchildren? Is she a member of a faith community? Does she do anything social?
Hi, helpwithmom56-- I read your story and the first and most important thing is that your mum is hot harming herself, she is eating, not addicted to drugs or alcohol, I am assuming she bathes etc? Personally, I would try the tough love approach. Tell your hubby not to mow your mum's lawn and have a conversation with your mum letting her know that you are not going to come around anymore until she starts to take the first steps to living her life again, they can be baby steps but she must show that she is making an effort. Tell her she is only 61, that is young, there is a lot of life left to live and I'm sure her husband would not want her grieving the rest of her life. She may need to get off the Xanax too. Good Luck.. let us know what you decide!
Mmm. if she had never done the lawn herself, she could have just been afraid to try to run a power mower, or maybe she (possibly rightly) does not trust herself to do it while she is on medication. And Xanax is not good for depression at all. It may have been a huge mistake to start that, and then just continue it for seven years; though some docs will give grieving people benzodiazepines to reduce their distress I think it is more numbing and in the long run exacerbates depression. Other people I have known on it long term just kind of stay euphoric and float through their life without a care. Again, not really a good thing.

Depression can make you consider yourself unworthy or even getting treatment or care, as well as just not feeling up to the smallest of tasks, let alone the big ones like taking care of a home. I might try to convince her to decrease the Xanax and try to get her out of her shell in some small way - visits, special foods, flowers, small gifts and cards, grandkid-related events, maybe even some special thing you could come up with that would be a memorial or honor of your dad's memory. By this time, most of the freebie opportunites that the funeral homes or hospitals offer for bereavement may have dried up, but you never know, you could ask. Maybe if you "wanted" to look at your dad's stuff, ostensibly to find some sentimental thing you wanted, she would let you help with that - it is not that uncommon that people cannot come to grips with that task, especially if grief and sorrow has not been worked through in any way. You might be able to bring back better memories and help some healing begin - it sure sounds like it hasn't, and you are right to be concerned.
I am nearly your moms age and I do the lawn, heavy gardening and most anything that needs to be done around the house maintenance wise. It is not all easy, but if you don't want to pay, ya gotta play! It sounds to me as if she is suffering from depression. Please take her to a good psychologist or even a grief support group and then to the doc to adjust the meds. 7 years is way to long to live in that hole! With luck she has many more years to enjoy, if she can get some help. Also check to make sure she is not drinking in excess. Depression and alcohol often go hand in hand!
I talked to her about her issues. We are going to see a counselor together. She did not want to do it on her own. Thank you for your advice. I think I knew where this would end up. Sometimes it helps toget some validation that I am doing the right thing

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