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My Mom Has Become So Bitter And Angry - How Do I Help Her

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Background - my father passed away last July. My mother and he had a terrible marriage and only stayed together for the "kids", then couldn't afford to live apart.

He passed away after a brief illness, but had made my mothers life very difficult. For the last 20 years, they just cohabited together with seperate lives - different bedrooms and even different tv rooms.

I did not have a good relationship with him (not did my brother) - he was mean, selfish and just not a very nice person to us or anyone else. Nonetheless, I did and still do grieve for him.

I also did grieve for the father I never had, but I did forgive him before he passed away and was present when he died.

My mother who is 73 is struggling - she grieved for him and then seeemed to be coming out the other side, however her personality has changed - she has these huge temper flares, is very angry at everything and bitter (in a way, I feel it's almost like she's become him) - she was never like this. If she sees someone getting something - anything, a new car or going away on vacation - she is bitter/angry about it and resentful. (She's not poor, but does have to be careful with her money - and I help her out every month and try to slip her some $$ when I can)

She drinks and takes anti-depressants - that was out of control, but she seems to be functioning and not drinking too much (and yes, I know she shouldn't be doing both - but she's my mother and not a child, I can't control that plus she lives thousands of miles away)

All she does is fight with me or my brother and when I try to come to his defense on something, she then fights with me and it's all "nobody loves me" and "what did I do to deserve this" "noone does anything for me" - when we do do a lot.

It's all negative to her -she sees no positive in anyone and I feel she enjoys being a widow and the sympathy? I hope no-one thinks this is a terrible thing, but I just don't know what to do.

It feels like everything is about her - I have tried and tried to talk to her, to tell her to enjoy life and what is left, that she is lucky, she has her health, her house and 2 children who love her dearly. The person that I described is not the mother I used to have, and I don't know how to help her. She has changed so so much - right now, she is not speaking to either of us.

I asked her to get help about a month or two ago - someone to talk to about this, she said it was all nonsense, since then she's had 2 knockdown screaming fights with us, saying extremely hurtful things (that are hard to forgive)

Is this normal? Will my mother return to herself, how do I approach this with her, she truly believes she is the victim in all this. I love her to pieces and I don't know what to do - she's turned into a stranger

Pls help - someone?


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Dear One,

My heart hurts for you as I read your sad story, and I'm so sorry this is happening to you, to your brother and to your mom. Unfortunately, all we can do is speculate as to what is really going on here. You ask if your mom's behavior is normal, and I really don't know the answer to that question. It's possible that in all those years she tolerated being in an unhappy marriage by telling herself that everything would be better if only she were free of your father ~ and now that he has died, she's discovering that she alone is responsible for her own happiness. It's the same existential experience we all must face at one time or another: that in the end, how we decide to live the life that's been given to us, now and in the future, is up to each and every one of us. Your mom no longer has your dad to blame for the life she has been dealt, and that could represent an enormous loss for her. Bear in mind that I am only guessing here, but I do think it's a possibility.

Of course, you already know that combining alcohol and antidepressant medication can affect her personality, and certainly not in a good way.

On the other hand, it's entirely possible that the changes in her personality are due to some physical changes in her brain, and the only way to rule that out is for her to be examined by a qualified physician. If there is any way that you and your brother can persuade her to get in to see her primary care provider as soon as possible, I think that would be an important step. Does she have a trusted friend who lives close by who could help you in this regard? Do you know who prescribed her medication? Is there any way you can contact that person to share your observations and convey your concern about the changes in your mother's personality?

There are many resources available to help you understand what may be going on with your mom; you might begin with this: Handbook for Long-Distance Caregivers

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That might make sense on the possibility that she can no longer blame him - I did research some free grief support groups and I will try to talk to her tomorrow. thank you for the link on the caregive thing, she is still quite active, drives, goes to the gym, plays golf etc. Unfortunately, as much as I love her, she has always been very dramatic (I will never ever see you again type thing) and it's just gotten worse. I ring her every single day and my heart is always in my mouth as I never know what type of mood she will be in. She has dramatically threatened suicide before and it's just so awful that I don't know what to do. I was thinking of calling her priest tomorrow, but don't know if that would annoy her more.

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