dealing with a parent after the death of the other parent.

I fear this is going to be quite long so I apologise in advance. During the pandemic my dad had to shield as he was ECV and throughout the duration I was doing all the shopping and errands for my parents, sometimes 4 times a week, as well as shopping for three other shielding pensioners. By the end of 2020 my dad’s health was really declining and early in 2021 we were told he had months not years left to live. My mum was his main carer until the end and I continued, along with my husband to support as much as we could, get whatever my mum wanted, my dad needed etc and on hand to anything manual, all the while juggling jobs and trying to be the best parents. My mum is quite particular and dare I say fussy with most things and at times I feel l made a problem for myself in that I never said no to her. Some weeks I’d be in three different supermarkets so she never went without whatever it is she wanted. I should also add she hasn’t driven in years.

My father died earlier this year and I just feel like my mum hasn’t stopped to consider the effect of this on me at all. I had three weeks off work when he passed away and she all but filled every day of it with various errands and things that needed to be done. If I suggested doing more than one thing in one day it was too much but I tried to explain I needed at least one day where I didn’t have to go out or do anything. It was my only time to process anything while the children were at school and I was exhausted. My bereavement leave ran into half term and we managed to get away for two nights for a break but I was made to feel guilty about that. I always think I need to do more but don’t know what else I can possibly do to help her without being completely run down by everything.

I went to see my dad in the funeral home and was interrogated about what he looked like and what I thought of various things, all whilst driving and after saying I had been but I didn’t want to talk about it. She couldn’t see that doing that while I was driving her around was inappropriate.

I know adjusting to life is going to be hard but I take my mum for her hair appointment weekly. If I’m not here, which is rare, she cancels as she refuses to drive or take a taxi as a one off. This makes me feel more guilty if I have something drop up. E.g. a party for my daughters school friend during the holidays.

After a recent family holiday my husband took her shopping as we all needed supplies, she wasn’t to two supermarkets that day, another supermarket 48 hours later and the next day rang me needing milk and various other bits. Not enough to justify an online shop but it meant that my first free day since returning from holiday with everyone and cooking, cleaning, packing, driving etc wasn’t free. I feel like I can’t grieve my dad’s passing because I’m always having to be at my mums beck and call and it’s suffocating if I’m honest. My husband has tried to say that I feel guilty I’m not doing enough but between work, our children and trying to maintain some balance it’s a struggle at times. This didn’t go down well but after a week nothing changed. I was asked to paint her new fence this summer but it’s a mammoth task and I’m trying to look after my daughters and maintain our home too. I feel like I have head space to process my grief and it comes in waves and knocks me over. Sometimes I just need quiet days to just be.

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Hi @Mariesthename, I am so sorry to read about your dad. I’m glad you were able to join our community here as I’m sure you will find others who have gone through something similar and possibly feel the same way.

It’s important to take one day at a time and be kind to yourself. I think you could benefit from registering with our recently-launched Grief Self-Help Service especially in these early days when things are so raw. It has some really useful information to help you cope with what you are going through right now.

I’m not sure if you are aware but Sue Ryder offers a free bereavement counselling service. It can often be a lot easier to talk with a professional counsellor about your feelings. If you would like to find out more, you can do so here.

I do hope you find our community helpful. Keep reaching out and please know that we’re here for you.

Take care,


Online Community team

Dear Mariesthename,

It could be me writing this story many, many years ago. When I was 25 years of age in 1968,I had been married a year when my dad died suddenly from a bleed on the brain, aged 57. My new husband and I spent the next 30 years looking after my mum, even though she was only 55 years old when my dad died. We took her shopping, I went to visit her during the week after work, we took her out at the weekends, we did her decorating for her etc. etc. etc. She too was a difficult woman. In those days there was no mobile phones, no internet, some people didn’t even have landlines, my mum was one of them and refused to have one. So we could not ring her up to see how she was, we had to drive over all the time.

To cut a very long story short, she died, 30 years after my dad died when she was 85 years of age. I remember the first Saturday morning after she died, my husband and I were laying in bed and I said to him, that a load had been lifted from us and we could now start to live our own lives at long last. Our two sons had grown up and were in their late 20’s.

I honestly feel so sorry for you, you don’t say how old your mum is but I wish I had had the courage to open my mouth and say something to her but I was brought up in the 1940’s where children were seen and not heard so I would never, ever have answered her back. My husband said she was my mum and we had to respect that, he was fantastic about it, he had lost his parents when he was 18 years old so my mum was like his mum.

I am now 80 years of age and my husband died eight years ago, I have two sons in their 50’s who don’t have to do anything for me at all, I always said after my mum died, that when I got old, there was no way I would put our children through what my mum put us through so I get gardeners/diy people in. I have never learned to drive so I get taxis everywhere.

If your mum is like mine was then you will find it difficult to have a conversation with her because as far as she is concerned, the world revolves around her and you are there to look after her. You will have to stand up and tell her enough is enough because believe you me, I wish I had done that all those years ago.

I do hope you can work something out.

Take care.



Hello mariesthename

Firstly I am sorry for your loss of your dad.
I can feel your exhaustion and how pulled you are between meeting your mums needs as her ‘child’ and your own needs as a separate adult.
It’s exhausting and from experience I say to you the longer you stay doing what your doing the harder it will be to ever change things and your life will go by and one day you will regret that you didn’t do something and can’t get the time back.
You are not responsible for your mum.
That doesn’t mean you don’t love and want to help her. It is clear you do. Especially since your dad died and she is now living by herself. It’s very emotionally charged.
But if you set a pattern now in an emotionally charged time it will be hard to break. Please think carefully about putting in some boundaries so that you continue to help your mum as naturally you wish to, without becoming completely taken over by her needs and wants to the point you suppress yourself and your life.
I can’t suggest what form such boundaries might take as I don’t know you or your mum but please believe me you need to do it if you are already feeling the way you are, it could only get worse otherwise and you will resent her bitterly. I’m sure you don’t want that.
I have all but lost my ‘life’ to a demanding and overwhelming mother, I do love her, but oh I do feel sad for the person I might have been the life I might have had if not so very swamped by her.
Look after yourself

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Thank you so much for the replies., Sheila I am so sorry for your loss. I am also sure that your sons really would t mind helping their mum out sometimes, you sound like an incredibly thoughtful mum.

I really appreciate advice and Bluebell, the points about boundaries are really good food for thought. I think I have to alter my mindset so that if I can’t do something and she’s annoyed, I don’t feel guilty and let the guilt eat away at me. It’s hard though. My husband is using some leave up next week so we had planned to go out for lunch while the girls are at school. My mum wanted me to take her for her flu jab (she has been driving more and more each week) and the health centre is a five minute drive. I explained we may be out for lunch so if she didn’t want to go alone she would need to ask my uncle or someone else. Her response was simply ‘Right!’ It sounds pathetic really but I know she’s annoyed and disappointed in me from that response and it really does get to me.

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Oh I feel every word of this … I have no words to offer you as I don’t know how to deal with it myself! Big hugs xx

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Dear mariesthename,

As I have stated in my previous message to you that my mum expected to go where we went all the time. It got so bad that we stopped telling her when we were going out for the day as she would expect to come with us. I hoped and prayed that our two sons would not open their mouths and tell their grandma where they had been, but she always quizzed them when she saw them and they just told her which caused a lot of trouble and she said we didn’t want her anymore. I remember when our sons grew up, Peter and myself still took her out for days and I can remember as clear as anything, my Peter walking ahead on his own whilst I walked with my mum. Now he is no longer here, I feel so guilty about it as I lost so many years of it just being Peter and me.

Stand up for yourself or your mum will take it as her given right, don’t make the mistake I did and say nothing. Life is too short, do all you can for your mum, when you have the time, but your family comes first, don’t let your mum be the be all and end all because she sounds like my mum and thought the world centred around her.

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