My Mom Changed After My Dad Died, What Should I Do?

my mom changed after my dad died

My mom changed after my Dad died, and it felt as though I was no longer special to her. She became a lot more self-centered and our conversations started to feel more like a one way traffic.

I struggled a lot when we talked, that’s because she never asks how I felt about the death of my Dad. I felt suffocated with no outlet. And it felt as though there wasn’t any space for me to receive emotional support from her.

While I wanted to talk, I couldn’t turn to my friends because I didn’t want to impose.

If you’re feeling this way, do know that you’re not alone.

This seems to be a common phenomenon and it comes up a lot during grief support sessions.

My Story

I lost my Dad after he bravely fought a two years battle with colon cancer. Going through that ordeal was a nightmare and a torture. I saw him struggled mentally throughout the two years – it went from a strong and courageous man to a quiet and reclusive person. The ending was horrible, it felt as if I started grieving for my Dad before he had even left us.

I lived away from home (in the city, due to work commitments) and would try to make it back home as much as possible, just to see and support him. In his last two months, I was by his side full time – and I am glad I did.

The day he died was obviously upsetting. But I felt a little relief when he no longer had to suffer and was at peace.

I spent the next few weeks helping my Mom with all the administrative paper work that came with Dad’s death. She was still in a state of shock and was living in denial, so things like managing finances, etc. (which my father always took care of) fell on my shoulders as I was the eldest child in the family.

How My Mom Changed After My Dad Died?

After settling all the necessary administrative work after my Dad’s death, I decided to move back to the city. Back then I was only 30, and I felt that I still had my whole life ahead of me. It’ll seem crazy for me to even consider living with Mom and sacrificing my personal growth and needs.

In fact, I was a little scared to spend every other day with Mom alone. I was afraid that her negativity would take a toll on my mental health.

And I also knew for sure that Dad would not have wanted me to sacrifice my personal life to “babysit” Mom. However, it did break my heart to leave Mom alone in the old house.

As the months passed, her behavior towards me started to change.

She Avoided Conversations About Dad

My guess is that she was devastated after Dad’s death and that affected everything in her life – which included her emotions towards me. For months, we avoided conversations about Dad. Every time when I tried to bring up Dad subtly into our conversations, she brushed it off.

I can’t recall exactly how long she took, but it was only after I sat her down and confronted her, then she realized that she has a daughter who needed her. Some people come back from their loss of a loved one, whereas some don’t – that’s because grief has no expiration date.

A typical grieving process look like this: You go from being in denial, to subsequently angry, and then depression (once you have accepted reality).

When you think she has had enough time to grieve and process the loss, you may want to consider starting a conversation with her.

Solution: Sit Her Down and Talk To Her

Sit her down and say “Mom, I would like to talk to you about Dad’s death. It seems to me that a part of you have died along with him. You may have given up on life but I want to know where your head is at. Can we talk?”

By sitting her down and asking her questions:

  • She will understand that you’re serious in having a conversation with her
  • You’ll lead her into telling you how she truly feel about Dad’s death

Once the conversation starts flowing naturally, don’t let it stop. Now, tell her how you feel and what you hope to achieve out of this conversations. An example would be:

I used to feel I was special to you, but recently it feels like I don’t matter anymore. Despites Dad’s death, I think we have to carry on living and not give up on everything. There will be things for us to live for so I really hope you don’t remain this way for too long. We both deserve better than to live this way for the rest of our lives. I am sure Dad wouldn’t want us to be like this too.”

Mom Became Resentful And Abusive After Dad Died

While this did not happen to me, there could also be a possibility that your Mom would become distant and abusive towards you. In periods of grief, especially during the early stages of grief, we tend to get angry and find fault with almost anything you can possibly think of.

  • Your Mom blames the doctor for not saving your Dad’s life
  • Your Mom blames you for not taking good care of your Dad
  • Your Mom blames herself for not being a good wife, etc.

In this case, I would strongly encourage you to find a grief counselor to help you navigate through this difficult time. Learning how to heal a grieving heart isn’t as easy as what many would think. Seeking professional help is always the fastest way for recovery.

Mom Became An Alcoholic After Dad Died

It is also common for someone to turn alcoholic after the death of a spouse. They attempt to numb their sadness, pain and grief during this phase. Sadly, this usually leads to alcohol addiction.

Those who get stuck in this cycle of alcohol addiction due to the loss of a loved one have one trait in common – denial.

If you notice that your Mom has been self-medicating with alcohol to numb the emotional pain, it might be a good idea to stop her before it is too late. The last thing you want to see is her turning from a sweet and kind mother to a full time alcoholic who goes out every night, spending more money than you ever thought she had.

During grieving process, it is critical that you let her experience and express her emotions so that she can eventually heal and move on with life. Share that listening ear with her so that she can pour her heart out. What I have noticed is that for those who struggle with unresolved grief tend to experience grief which last longer than normal. Seek professional help from a grief counselor if required.

Mom Started Dating After Dad Died

There could also be a possibility for your Mom to start dating again after Dad’s death.

I understand how upsetting it can be after having called a phone number that has been the same for the past 30 years and a different man other than your Dad answering the phone.

This can be something hard to accept. And if your Mom is still young (especially if she is in her early 40s), she will start to date again eventually.

While no one will ever replace Dad, I am sure your Dad wouldn’t want your Mom to be alone for too long as well. Dad was the love of her life but that does not mean she has to be lonely for the rest of her life.

Just like how your Dad will always be part of you, he will be part of her as well. Memories just don’t disappear like that.

My only advice for this is to be happy for her and support her in her decisions.

In my experience, I have noticed people who lose their spouse and are over 40 years of age tending to be ready for a new relationship within a year or so. Possibly even remarrying within a time frame of 2 to 3 years. It seems that when you’re older, you become more aware of how fast time can fly by. There will be a sense of urgency to return to a grounded and lasting relationship and having time to live it out.