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Mother Dating After Father Dying A Year Ago

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Hello, my Father passed away last January; he and my Mother were married 53 years, my Mother is having an intimate relationship with an 80 year old man, she is 75, and acting like a carefree teenager. I do not begrudge my Mother having someone to talk to and to go places with; it's the intimacy that I don't approve of, she just got back from spending a week at his place and she has done nothing to help me and my two sisters try to understand or accept her new life. All 3 of us are deeply hurt because she announced to us in an email that "Gene" was the love of her life and we were all just going to have to accept it. We did not go to grievance counseling after my Father passed and we really should have, so now I am reaching out to find out how we accept and "deal" with this. Please help.

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  • 4 weeks later...


First of all let me express my condolences for your father's passing. Sorry for the late reply as well. I am surprised no one replied to your post.

I can't provide much advice on this as I haven't gone through this experience just yet. My father passed away almost a year ago, my mom does not see herself dating anyone just yet.

From what you say it seems you and your mother need to talk about this. She is obviously an adult and can decide for herself, but I think it is only right to have a conversation with you about this. Differences can be reconciled or at least be dealt with through communication.

That's just my 2 cents.


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Dear One,

I'm so sorry to learn of the death of your father, and sorry too that your post went unanswered for so long. (My thanks to L for finding this post and bringing it to my attention!)

The feelings you and your sisters are having toward your mother in the aftermath of your father's death are understandable. When one parent dies and the remaining parent begins dating someone else, it can be very hard for the adult children to accept, no matter how soon after the death it occurs. Partly that is because you may be feeling a need to remain loyal to your father and respectful of his memory, and you may be worried that your mother will cease to remember and love this irreplaceable person you all have lost.

It may be helpful for you to keep in mind that you and your mother are grieving very different losses, and the relationships you had with the person who died are very different too. Your mother has lost her spouse, while you have lost a parent. I understand that your parents were married for 53 years. I don't know how close they were to each other, or anything else about their relationship, but I do know that however your mother reacts to your father's death depends on many, many different factors, many of which may be known only to her.

In her insightful book Fatherless Women: How We Change After We Lose Our Dads, author Clea Simon observes that daughters of the newly widowed sometimes have trouble "balancing the real vulnerability of our newly single mothers with respect for them as adults." She goes on to say that

Accepting and encouraging our mothers' independence can be awkward for us . . . Particularly in the social arena, we are not usually accustomed to seeing our mothers as women. We knew them as our mothers, not as fellow adults who raised us, who worked in the house or out to keep a family together. We do not usually picture them as women like ourselves, as partners enjoying or leaving relationships, as people like us who have lived with the mixed consequences of their actions. Unless our mothers had been alone for a long time before the death of our fathers, we tended to see them as part of a unit, as teamed with our fathers (or stepfathers or partners) in their roles as our mothers, not as women. Now fate conspires to show us the other faces of our mothers, and makes this time full of discovery for us both. For many of us, this can be an uncomfortable transition. If our mothers start dating, for example, we have to accept them as sexual beings. If we have not faced it before, we are now confronted with the reality that the tight parental unit – the monolith of parental support, discipline, and security that protected our childhood – was comprised of two humans, one of whom is now single and lonely as we have ever been. Some of us may experience this discovery as a betrayal . . . After the death of a parent, particularly a father, this . . . may become most pronounced when a widowed mother becomes sexually active again . . . (Fatherless Women: How We Change After We Lose Our Dads, by Clea Simon, John Wiley & Sons, NY, 2001, pp. 140-142)

To gain a clearer understanding of what your mother may be experiencing as a newly widowed person, it may help you to read what other widows have to say about dating and remarriage. See, for example, the article I've attached, "How Long Is Long Enough," by Julie Donner Andersen. You may find that this thread will offer some insights as well: New Relationships

You say that you did not seek any sort of bereavement counseling after your father died and now you're wishing now that you had done so. I think talking to a therapist or professional bereavement counselor is an idea worth considering again, so that your own feelings about losing your father and your current difficulties with your mom can be expressed, worked through and resolved. You may have no control over how your mother chooses to lives her life in the wake of your father's death, but with help you can find more effective ways to manage your own reactions and get on with your own life. Your community library or your local mental health association will have good grief counseling referral lists, or you can use the Yellow Pages of your telephone directory to call your local hospital or hospice. Ask to speak with the Bereavement Coordinator, Social Worker, or Chaplain's Office to get a local grief referral. I hope you will think of this as a gift you can give to yourself, and I hope you will follow through with it.

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