Wedding Woes

Therapists are people, and people rarely follow the advice they dispense.

Dear Prudence,

My mother died last fall after a battle with cancer. My father is 76 and a working psychiatrist. He was devoted to my mom for over 50 years but began a relationship with a co-worker within two months of her death. I want him to be happy, but he is acting like my mom died years ago and not a few months ago. At first I said I was OK with this, but I have realized that my initial reaction was made in a state of shock. Last month he brought her on vacation to the same house he and my mom rented just a few weeks before she died. He acts like it’s no big deal, but every time I walk into the house, all I can see is my mother at the end of her life. I am still grieving the loss of my mom but feel like I can’t share memories with him because his new partner is always with us. I know he has his own life to lead, but this is just weird, especially for someone who is a therapist. He would never counsel a patient to jump into a new relationship so quickly after the death of a spouse. How can I talk with him about how I’m feeling? We have always been very close, and now I feel like I’m hiding something huge from him. I’ll be OK with him moving on once I have just a little more time. This just seems so very fast and disrespectful to my mom.

—Moved On Too Quickly for Me

Re: Therapists are people, and people rarely follow the advice they dispense.

  • short+sassyshort+sassy member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited June 2019
    I think I’d really really struggle with this, and that it’s okay to talk to your dad about! “Hey dad, id like to be spending more time with you one on one. I’m still really wanting to talk about mom and that’s hard for me to do with Janice.”
    I don't think the LW should talk with her dad about that they thinks he "moved too fast and is being disrespectful to their mom".  That part is not for them to judge.

    However, this statement is perfect. The LW needs her dad at this time and I'm sure he is still grieving also.  I'd also suggest the LW get grief counseling and maybe some of those sessions should include dad.  Not as the therapist!  But with a neutral third party.
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  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Poor LW. I would feel the same way too. 

  • I feel for LW because that is really tough. I agree that she should talk to dad about how she’s feeling. But she also doesn’t know all the details of his relationship with Mom or with this woman. Any judging of how fast he moved on likely isn’t going to help the situation. 

    I think Starmoom’s wording is great; I would focus on how the loss is making her feel (ie that she feels she can’t share memories of Mom, that the house is making her feel sad) rather than judgement about his relationship with the new woman. 
  • It's really quite normal for people who were in happy marriages to jump back into a new relationship soon, even "very" soon, after their partner's death b/c they want to recreate the happiness and partnership.

    It's absolutely okay for LW to be struggling with this.  Some grief counseling might be in order here, to learn how to manage this.  They're allowed their feelings, so is Dad.  Neither is in the wrong here, but really Dad's "moving on" timeline is not up to LW, so that's what she needs help with.

    LW doesn't mention how new partner reacts to this.  I've seen this play out twice in my life now and the really healthy one the new partner welcomed memories of mom/wife and asked about her often.  The unhealthy one...well, he tried to get his kids to call new partner "mom".  IDK if that was his partner's idea or his, but it didn't go well at all, nor should it have.
  • As I've said before - and similar to title - it's easier to give advice than take it.
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers

    MNNE - I was thinking the same thing, not knowing how long the mom's battle with cancer was, LWs father could have grieved and been ready to move on rather quickly. 

    I also wonder about the house that LWs mom and dad went to prior to her death and with dad and new GF after.  Is that a house they routinely rent for vacations?  If so, it makes sense that dad would rent it again with new GF.

    All of that said, I think Starmoon's wording to dad is perfect. It is hard for LW to see dad with anyone else because all they ever knew was the parents together. Dad had an opportunity to see, first hand, the changes and illness take hold in mom.  He was able to accept the end of his marriage and that made him ready to move on.

  • MNNEBride said:
    Sometimes, when the dying process is long, spouses go through the grieving process early on and by the time the ill spouse has passed the remaining spouse is ready to move on.
    THIS!!!  There is a pre-grieving process that takes place along with possibly discussions of what did his wife want for him after it became clear that she'd be passing.  The child relationship is different from the spousal relationship and the perception there-of for the LW.  Also, he's a psych, and depending on his specialization, he may be using his own background knowledge too!
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