Dear Annie: I lost my beautiful daughter to suicide six months ago. A strong and able firefighter, she was also extremely active in her community.
Naturally, I leaned on my mother for consolation, but I didn’t find it. Instead, my mother was distant and uninterested in my pain. It was an effort even to get her to attend my daughter’s memorial service. She said it would be hypocritical to go, because she hadn’t spoken to my daughter for years. I can’t recall what hurt my mother so much that she decided never to speak to my daughter again. Now she says she doesn’t want to hear from me until I am feeling better.
I am well aware of my mother’s inability to talk about things that cause her pain. However, I don’t believe pushing me out of her life solves anything. My mother told me she doesn’t approve of the way I expressed myself angrily to people who claimed to be friends of my daughter but proceeded to spread ugly lies about her past. In my grief, I confronted these people and protected my daughter. My mother told me to get mental health assistance, and she refuses to speak to me.
I sought advice from a psychologist, who said I seem very aware of everyone’s feelings and there is nothing wrong with me. I simply need time to heal.
Not only did I lose my only child, but I also lost my mother when I needed her most. Is there anything I can do to make her understand how painful this is?
Dear Heartbroken: Our deepest condolences on the loss of your daughter. Your mother sounds incapable of showing sympathy or providing consolation. She may also be feeling guilty for never having reconciled with her granddaughter, believing that there was plenty of time to do so. We can only recommend that you get grief counseling and find support through The Compassionate Friends (compassionatefriends.org) at 1-877-969-0010, an organization for parents whose children have died.
Dear Annie: My parents have always favored my oldest brother. My other two siblings and I all feel this way.
My parents and I have never had an easy relationship. While I’ve obeyed their rules, maintained their standards and respected their wishes, I have never conformed to their ideals, so I’ve been branded as “rebellious.” When I confronted them about their favoritism, they absolutely denied treating my brother any better than the rest of us. They also told me I have a rebellious heart. How can I make them realize that they do indeed show favoritism, and that I am not rebellious?
Tired of Favoritism
Dear Tired: Those are tough challenges and will likely take a while to accomplish. Parents are reluctant to admit when they favor one child over another and often don’t see it. And it takes time and effort — from all of you — for parents to alter their perceptions of a child’s “nature.” Talk to your parents politely and calmly. Explain that you aren’t looking to be confrontational. Ask them to tell you more specifically what they need from you so you can work on it. We hope the honest question will open their minds and allow the relationship to improve.
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