My Dad died and Mom is dating again. I am having a hard time coming to terms with it and what should I do?
My Dad died of prostate cancer at age 53. During the last few years of his life, it was difficult to watch him struggle to pee. More often than not, he would exit the toilet saying that he had lost the peeing sensation again. His death came to us as a relief because it meant that he was no longer suffering.
A few weeks after Dad passed away, Mom started dating again. Now, I am truly worried about the future of this family and am at a loss of what to do.
My Dad Died And My Mom Is Dating, How Did It Happen?
After Dad died, Mom went to visit her sisters in Seattle for some much needed break and well-deserved rest. We gave her our blessings as she certainly needed a get away from everything.
She came back rejuvenated, started working again and was also attending online grief counseling sessions. All seemed to be going well as anyone could hope for.
She also told us that she “met a friend” through our Aunt, who had lost his wife to cancer. Initially, I was genuinely happy for her, so she could have someone to talk to or at least speak to someone who could empathize with what she has been through.
What we didn’t know was that they were actually dating and were more than just “friends”.
Obvious Signs When Widowed Mother Starts Dating
There were many signs that my Mom was dating, but we didn’t pick it up earlier. Mom was literally filling the empty void that my Dad left her with, with this new guy. She started to:
- Spend more time with him, almost every evening after work and even on weekends
- Reduce the frequency of her visits to her own family, slowly alienating all of us
- Switched her church to join his
- Spend the night with him
- Forgets her kids birthday
- Moved in with him
- Brought him to our family events (if there was any)
- Went everywhere with him and he as always with her
- She was rarely home and hardly ever be there for us
- No longer wears her wedding ring
While I completely understand that she needs to live her own life and experience new things, but I feel it should not be at the expense of our family. We love her so much. After losing Dad, we felt that we needed her more than ever, but now it just feels like we have lost both parents.
What Do I Do When My Mom Is Moving On A Few Months After My Dad Died?
- Doing what is best for your Mom
- Be kind to your Mom
- Giving your Mom privacy and respect her decision
- Embrace and accept your Mom’s new love
- Don’t control your Mom’s life
Doing What’s Best For Your Mom
It seems natural to think that Mom is doing something wrong behind Dad’s back when she starts seeing another man after his death.
But that is not the case.
Think about it, after your Dad is gone, her kids now have their own lives, whereas she is left alone to pick up the pieces in her life.
Would you want her to isolate herself at home, take out old photo albums and cry all day? Personally, I feel that it is up to her to decide how she wants to create a new life for herself.
I also think that if your family embrace her new love, get to know him personally and appreciate him for who he is, rather than having a negative feeling of him displacing your Dad’s place, she might actually spend more time with the family.
Truth to be told, she is not going to be in a place where she is made to feel uncomfortable.
Also, I dare say that the man she is seeing, will not fully eradicate her grief, there is no way anyone can circumvent it. She still has to deal with it, she will still feel the loss of your Dad and she probably will choose to deal with it privately (in any case, that’s her right, not ours to control).
Do not compare your loss with your Mom’s as they were totally different relationships, thus the feeling of loss is different. Similarly, do not compare the way you cope with grief to hers. Each person’s grieving journey is unique and different. It is affected by the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, coping skills and personality.
Be Kind To Your Mom
Your Mother is a new person after your Dad’s death. After we’re hit with such a loss, we can no longer be the same person. By seeing another man, she may be trying to avoid some grief, and to fill a void that your Dad left behind.
While it seems like your Mom has started moving on a few months after Dad’s died, as someone who was his caretaker, she watched him die slowly and cared for him, and that was when her grieving began. This is what most mental health professional call anticipatory grief and that jump started her whole grieving process – it was not on the day of his death, but way earlier.
When our Mom starts dating after the death of our Dad, we tend to see things in a black and white view, it’s either right or it’s wrong. But the truth about life is that there are many more shades of gray than black and white, and it is really up to us to try see things from another person’s perspective.
We aren’t here to control or judge someone. But instead, we are here to appreciate them for who they are and try to understand what Mom is going through.
Giving Your Mom Privacy & Respect Her Decisions
There will be many things that your Mom may not tell you about so respect her privacy.
Eg. Your Mom not telling you about the times she spend the night with her man friend does not mean she thought it was wrong. But it could be she felt that it wasn’t your business to know too much.
Embrace & Accept Your Mom’s New Love
My advice is to embrace and accept both your Mom’s decision and her new love – or you might risk losing your Mom.
This might be difficult to accept but sometimes, that’s just how it is. By giving him a chance, you might just realize he is a nice and lovely person. Try to imagine how would you have found him if you met him under a different circumstances?
Don’t Control Your Mom’s Life
As children of our Mom, it is not our place to run our Mom’s life. There is a limit to how much Mom can “be there” for us and we aren’t kids anymore.
To expect Mom not to date just because we don’t like it is unreasonable and selfish.
It is okay to feel upset, as it is part of grieving, but it is unreasonable to expect her to change her life to suit our feelings. We tend to be self-entitled and self-centered when we are grieving, which is the part that helps us focus on our own grief and to put in the work and effort to get through the tough times.
While this is a natural grief response, we also need to be aware of it as it can affect our relationships and judgment.
Knowing what I know now, I would approve my Mom’s decision to date after Dad died. It will be a very selfish thing for me not to give her that right.
I have heard stories of a windowed Mom choosing not to date because of her kids. When she got older, she started putting a lot of pressure on her children to meet her emotional needs – to be there for her all the time, spend hours on the phone, traveling to visit her once a week, etc..
I don’t think this is something I will be able to provide on a consistent and regular basis, especially if you have your own family to take care of.
If you continue to have problems with your Mom or if the situation at home does not improve, I would encourage you to see a grief counselor or at least try to learn how you can heal your grieving heart.