Dear Annie: My 39-year-old son-in-law died two years ago, quite suddenly and unexpectedly. My daughter is still grieving, which I fully understand, but her grief has turned her into an angry and jealous person.
My husband and I are the only family she has. When she married, she moved close to her husband’s friends, but after he died, they did not keep in touch. She went for counseling right afterward but said the counselor could not help her because he couldn’t give her what she wanted. She refuses to see a doctor for anti-anxiety medication or an antidepressant.
I want to be helpful and supportive, but her difficult personality is now putting a strain on our health, not to mention our marriage. We call her a few times a day and are always here if she needs to talk, but she is so angry and hateful that every conversation becomes stressful. How much support must we offer? I would like to entertain people again and perhaps travel, but we would feel guilty leaving her on her own. – No Name, No State, Please
Dear No Name: You may think you are helping your daughter, but you are actually enabling her to be emotionally dependent on you, allowing her to avoid dealing with her own issues. You need to scale back. Encourage her to seek counseling again or to attend a grief support group through a local hospital or hospice. Then plan your vacations and your entertainment. You can still stay in touch as often as you wish. She may object to your having a life while she doesn’t, but that is her choice.