Sometime after her single overseas son had temporarily moved back home, my cousins husband died. She is in her early seventies and was married for 55 happy years. There are two married older sons who live close by.
Throughout her marriage, in common with many of her age group, she has never taken responsibility - nor interest - in the running of the house other than the shopping and cleaning. Her late husband ‘did all of that’.
At his death and since, her ‘living at home’ son has taken on his father’s role. My cousin takes no interest in the garden, refusing to have even pots on the patio, no interest in going out, unless she is taken. She refuses to take her car to meet other relations, will join other cousins for lunch occasionally so long as someone takes her.
Throughout her marriage she developed only one female friendship - other than her immediate family. She therefore has no ‘comfort zone’ to help at this difficult time.
Not computer literate and was never interested enough for her husband to teach her. Her live-in son is a computer buff, but she does not want to know.
The problem is that this son is contemplating moving back overseas as he needs to get on with his own life but is concerned about his mother.
How can we, her family, best help? She is a very unworldly person and is one never to have ‘put herself forward’.
Given that the grieving process is very individual, we wonder to want extent we should ‘interfere’. One of our number was widowed some years ago and understands better than others. I have lived on my own for many years and cannot imagine not taking responsibility for myself, so am of no help at all.
Silent treatment - son
Caught in the act - neighbours
How to say it - 'no'