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Overwhelmed by my grieving Dad....HELP!! 
Started by dragonfly4
09 Jun 2014, 12:44 AM

Hello all, I'm not new to the forums.  I've posted before about my mother's death and her struggle as well as mine.  Life really is a roller coaster!  I seem to be doing ok.  I've changed jobs, stopped crying every day.  It still feels like I'm drowning, not as often as before.  My mom died on December 1, 2013.  While we had the service for her funeral, we will be having the burial on June 14th.  It's something, I've been dreading.  On my own, single mom, 3 kids....I've started to heal and help my children start to heal as well.  My issue is my dad.  He was married to my Mom for 49 years.  They had a very co-dependant relationship.  From her side, she wasn't happy, complained about my dad, generally didn't get the marriage she signed up for.  My dad, continued his life doing what he wanted....playing ball, etc.  She raised us and was the strength in their marriage.  She really enabled him to do whatever he liked.  Be helpless.  It was only when she got sick that my dad actually started trying to cook, do laundry, clean.  Now that she is gone....he is obesessive about cleaning and well, everything.  He lines the shoes up and when I ask, he says he is keeping them tidy just like Mom did...she didn't.  He has all the chairs pushed up to the tables, like noone every sits there...basically tells everyone that if we want to come over, we have to keep his house clean just like my mom did.....she would rather have done anything but clean house!!!  HIs OCD is pushing me away.  Plus, he is constantly complaining to me about my brother and sister.  I've told him I don't want to hear it, he should talk to them about his issues.  Then he says he'll let it go and brings it up 5 mns later!  He is grateful for all I've done.  I know this but I feel like I'm enabling him to stay in his little disfunctional bubble.  He is trying to control everything and not sleeping, constantly over thinking everything!  It's exhausting me.  I love my parents farm, it always will be my happy place but lately, I'd love to avoid it because of him.  He has also started to tell people, in 3 years when my youngest graduates, I'll move out there and look after him!  That is not my plan.  My brother, doesn't go out there, my sister is too overwhelmed to go out there.  I'm on my own here!  Does anyone have any advice that might help?!!!
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Reply by KathCull_admin
09 Jun 2014, 1:52 AM

Dear Dragonfly,
It's so good to hear from you again and it's good to hear that you are doing 'ok' - I think ok is pretty good with all you have experienced and are experiencing right now.  How is the new job going?

What a tough time this must be for you all.  It seems to be another step in saying good bye to an important woman in all your lives. Grief has so many sides to it. Many people have found the article Grief Work helpful for themselves and others. I also found this response to the Asked and Answered section of the Virtual Hospice and thought the information might be of benefit to you and your dad. My mother’s dying and my father won’t talk about it. How can I help my father cope with my mother’s illness?  I know your situation is somewhat different but I thought some of the content might be helpful. 

Are there friends or other supports in your community – who could reach out to your dad?


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Reply by Xenia
09 Jun 2014, 5:26 PM

Dear Dragonfly:

I read your message and I can feel your dilema.  Your father, I would believe, is having some guilt about your mother's passing and some of the things he never shared with her.

His cleaning and referring to mother keeping the house so clean possibly reflects to his not being at home but at a ball game and their not sharing many daily items.  He is probably very lonely and has a hard time admitting it.

I would suggest that you are doing all you can and must ignore the items that are hurtful to you.  Regarding your father's belief that you will be looking after him in 3 years must be talked over with your brother and sister and perhaps a counsellor, doctor or someone you are close to that will help you make the correct decision so you don;t feel guilty when the 3 years is nigh.  Perhpas this is the way your father is coping with his loss of your mother and is now turning to you more and more.

Once again, as caregivers, we must take care of ourselves and you with children on your own need to find a place where you feelcomfortable and not feel you have to visit dad on certain days, times or places.  Perhaps there is a women's group or another group you can share your dilema with.

I would suggest that you go to the Professional people on this website and ask your questions as they have been most helpful to me and my problems regarding my husband wanting to pass at home.

I wish you the best and please keep in touch

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Reply by Mary M.
10 Jun 2014, 9:10 PM

Hi Dragonfly,
I am sorry about the loss of your mother. It takes a long time to process such a major loss. It sounds like you are dealing with it. I know there are times when you think you are OK and then suddenly- no so much. This is just the way grief is... unfortunately. With all you are going through, losing your mom, helping your kids cope you now are dealing with your dad.

It seems like he is substituting cleaning and organization for feelings of grief. He sounds like a man who cannot deal with his loss and rather than deal with all the chaotic feelings grief is throwing at him, he is trying to control the only thing he can- the house. This will not work. But the thing I would impress on you is that you cannot "fix" him. I hope you don't think  I am being unkind or uncaring towards your dad because I do not mean to be. What I am saying is that you cannot change what he is not recognizing. It isn't yours to fix. Not that you do not want to- it is that you cannot.

Everyone deals with grief their own way. You need to tell your dad the truth when he says  "just like your mom did" if she did not do the thing he is talking about. Gently, but firmly. Encourage him to get professional help. He needs it. You are too tender right now to try and take on something you are not trained to do. You are dealing with your kids grief as well as your own. That's a lot on your plate. Tell your dad that you are not going to come to take care of him in 3 years. Gently, but firmly. You will have to keep telling him, you will have to keep encouraging him to seek help, but keep telling yourself- you do NOT own your dad's feelings. This is not in any way being unkind to him, it is the kindest thing you can do. He has to keep himself grounded in the real world. Just make sure that when you have to tell him these uncomfortable truths that you show as much love and kindness you can.

Above all take care of yourself. You have gone through (and still are going through) a lot. You have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others with theirs. I hope I have not said anything that will upset you, know that I wish you well and I care. I have lost people close to me and I have seen some of the strange ways people deal with grief. If I thought for one minute that you could help your dad go through this process by magically doing something, anything, I would encourage you to do it. That just isn't the case here. Love him, cherish him, but know he needs a professional. Give yourself permission to not be a super hero that can solve all the problems of the world. I am thinking of you and I truly wish you the best.
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Reply by dragonfly4
12 Jun 2014, 2:26 AM

Thanks for replying!  It definately isn't healthy the way he guilt trips my family and complains about my siblings.  I'm worried about him but I also want to shout out....What about me?  My mom died too and my children lost their grandma....be the adult and be there for us for once!  I'm not kidding when I say, my mom wore the pants.  The other thing that is bothering me is that when he talks about their marriage, it was the best thing ever!  It sucked...I know because both of them complained to me about the other.  I know that isn't right, it happened but it makes me angry now when he talks about her like she was the love of his life!  Ummm, no!  Remember all the crappy things you did?!  I know I'm venting, I need to.  I spend almost every weekend out there with him and honestly, it's like4 having another kid.  I need to have a talk with him but I just can't make myself do it.  We are burying my mom on Saturday and I hope then things with him will calm down.  I have suggested that he talk to a professional, I can't make him.  I've suggested a grief group, I've talked to the pastor and he has talked to him too.  He obsesses about everything.  It's crazy.  I feel like I've been put into the role of the grownup and I resent him for it.
Thanks for letting me vent!
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Reply by marstin
15 Jun 2014, 4:32 PM

Hi Lynne,

I have been reading all that you have written and I am sorry that you are going through so much. As Mary has said, we all grieve differently and for some it becomes obsessive. The way your Dad is grieving reminds me so much of how my brother has dealt with his grief. When our Dad passed away, my brother was off on a cruise that he didn't want to go on because he knew how ill Dad was. When he came back home, he became very concerned with his own health. He has spent the past 7 years going from doctor to doctor thinking he has something wrong with him and feeling like he's dying. He emotionally shut down. When our Mom passed away a year and a half ago, he was there with me as she took her final breath. Within a couple of minutes he ran off saying he had an appointment and left me alone at the hospital. He couldn't deal with it. He is consumed with guilt for the not being there for our parents like he should have been over the years and also for not being supportive to me since I had just lost my partner weeks before our Mom passed away. He also is a very obsessive person. I hear that he has convinced himself that he was the ideal son and brother but I think it's because he can't deal with his own guilt.

Your Dad's guilt is probably what is causing him to behave the way he is. He can make up stories about his life with your Mom and make himself believe them because he can't face the reality of how their lives really were. He has probably lost his grip on reality because he can't deal with it. I'm not sure what the answer is for people like this when they won't accept help for things they won't acknowledge. I had to cut off all communication with my brother because he was causing me so much unecessary pain and making it seem like I was the one creating issues. I know that you don't want to do that with your Dad and I understand it, he's your parent. I think that people like this suffer far more than those of us who can deal with grief in a healthier way.

I am not sure what the answer is for you with dealing with your Dad. Possibly like Mary suggested, you may have to carefully point out that your Mom didn't do the things that he is saying she did. You may have to spend less time with him so that you can start to heal yourself. If he's not able to accept help from professionals, there is so little that you can do for him. I know that my brother has refused to get any help for his grief and goes from being very passive to a major rage. There is no in between as he does not want to or cannot feel the pain of loss.

I hope that you are taking the time to care for yourself and your children. Your mental health is extremely important and you have to do what is necessary to begin to heal.


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