Helping Mom Make Decisions After Dad's Death

Helping Mom Make Decisions After Dad’s Death

Written By:

Lynn Whitbeck

Rachel Whitbeck

My mom is struggling to make decisions since my father died. Do I make the decisions for her, or should I focus on giving her emotional support? – Ricki in Kirkland, Washington

Answer:

Lynn: Ricki, I am going through the same situation right now, so I totally get your dilemma. In my case, it may be a bit easier as my mother is over 80 years old. She’s reached that point where she is relying on me to make decisions for her. However, I always discuss what is going on and review the options. I give her my opinion and ask for hers. She often has concerns or insights I had not considered. While there is no right or wrong answer to your question, my advice is to gently encourage your mom to seek your advice and help. Absolutely be there for her and be her rock of emotional support. You are helping each other move forward from your loss.

Rachel: I have been in this exact situation, Ricki. When my dad died suddenly five years ago, my sister was away at college, and I was the only one around to help my mom. Since our house was foreclosed on within weeks of my dad’s death, my mom was overwhelmed. She had to deal with my dad’s remains, plan his memorial, pack up the house, and find a new place to live. What I did, and what I recommend for you, is I tried to ease her decisions. I found apartments online that I thought would suit her, took her to each one to check it out, and then talked with her about her thoughts on each place. I did similar things for the other myriad decisions she had to make after her 27-year marriage came to a sudden end.

On the other hand, my mom was grieving, so I had to be emotional support, too. I held her while she cried, talked with her about her feelings, and offered distractions through fun TV shows. Death is a lot to handle, so making the big decisions a little bit more manageable will help a great deal. Just make sure you’re looking after yourself, too.

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