11/1/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

From Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency

It can be wonderful when Mom’s best friend is her daughter, but after Dad’s death, a frustrated and sad daughter is struggling to help. Advice columnist Amy Dickinson offers her suggestions.

Dear Amy:

My mom and I are best friends. My parents had a true storybook romance. They met as children and were married for 32 years until my dad was quickly taken from our lives by cancer, when he was only 60 years old – 20 years ago.

My mom has been literally heartbroken since then. She longs for fun and to meet people but can’t get out to do it.

I have tried everything – classes, moving to different towns in hopes of finding a close and fun community, moving her into an elder community, getting a volunteer job, trying a paid job, going to church … you name it, I have tried it.

I know I can’t make her do things, but she continually tells me she would “do anything to meet a nice man and have some friends.”

Her father was very hard on her and was verbally abusive and she has no self-confidence, because of him.

I am eager to learn if you might have any ideas or advice for my mom.

She is a very young 76, and loves to have fun, laugh, and do things with people.

But her life for the last 20 years has been very lonely and quiet.

I know she needs to do things for herself, but she doesn’t use the computer, and I try to at least find possibilities that might open up some social life for her, and to find some friends.

I am hoping that you may offer some new ideas or thoughts.

– Frustrated and Sad Daughter

Dear Frustrated:

You are your mother’s best friend. It is possible that if the two of you had allowed one another to differentiate so that you could be her daughter instead of her best (and only) friend, she might have developed some of the skills and tools to relate to people more on her own.

You have made all of these efforts on her behalf and have even written to me for more ideas for things you could do for her.

I hope you see where I’m going with this.

She needs help from someone other than you, and she deserves the empowered feeling of discovery when she makes efforts on her own.

You deserve to move forward with a relationship with her that isn’t defined solely by her needs.

The next time she expresses her dissatisfaction and desires, tell her that you’re out of ideas. Does she have any ideas? Ask: Are there things she (not you) could do differently to change the outcome?

She would obviously benefit from compassionate therapy.

And also – because you’ve got me doing this now – an elder hostel experience might be enriching and empowering for her. Check for programs.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from when Mom’s best friend is her daughter to DNA surprises. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

How to Support a Grieving Parent

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff