Shayne on You: Widowed mom chooses grief over happiness

Dear Maggie,

My father passed away four years ago. He died unexpectedly at fifty, and it rocked our entire family. But most especially my mother. And now, four years later, shes still in a state of despair. She drinks a lot. She cries all the time. She says she has nothing to live for, and Im beginning to resent that, because she does. She has her kids, and she has our kids, her grandchildren. She has a beautiful home, and a wonderful life. But shes throwing it away. What can we do to help her get over her grief and begin to live again?


Frustrated Son of the Eternally Despondent

Dear Frustrated,

First, know that this is your moms issue, and not yours. She is the only one who can decide when shes ready to move on. Happiness is a choice, not a condition, and right now shes choosing grief instead. Its her call, and as maddening as it can be to those who love her and want her to do better, no one can force her to.

I have to suggest that she could probably benefit from professional counseling, AA, and maybe medication at this point. Shes self-medicating with alcohol, and that will only deepen the depression.

Maybe you can nudge her in the right direction by coaxing her into a better feeling place. To do that, you have to stop noticing and being angry about her grief, and start seeing her as the happier person you know she can be. Every tiny sign she shows that is even slightly positive is something to notice and celebrate and blow out of all proportion. Its possible it might help. And of course drawing her into events and outings with your family, your siblings, and those grandkids, might help too.

Again, though, its her call. If I were talking to her, I would tell her that her husband is better now than hes ever been before, so grieving for him is not only useless, but unnecessary. I would tell her that life is a beautiful, luscious, delicious experience and that she came here in order to relish it and is failing miserably in that mission. I would tell her that her pain is coming from a different place than she thinks it is. It isnt just missing him thats hurting her so much, its being so entirely separated and out of alignment with her own higher self, with her spirit, her guardian angels, her God. Because the spiritual parts of her know that all is well. They know shell be reunited with him in the blink of an eye. They know hes fine and that she is too. They know that shes still on this earth for a reason but is refusing to see or attend to it.

I would tell her that it is possible to be happy again, but that she has to want to be. She has to choose to be. And I would tell her to begin with tiny steps toward relief, just reaching for something that feels a little better, and a little better, and a little better. She neednt think shes expected to be doing cartwheels of joy next week. But if she could begin looking for reasons to smile, looking for things that feel good in her life, she would find them. And the more she finds, the more will show up, and the relief will begin to build.

But again, its her choice. If she honestly chooses to remain in despair, she too, will likely have a shortened life span. And when it ends and she emerges into pure positive energy, shell laugh at how unnecessary all her grieving really was. But some people never see the true beauty of life on earth until they leave it behind.

Good luck,


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