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My father can’t recover from my mother’s death

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a man in my 50s, and my mother died last year. She had lived with my father in the countryside, and he has lived alone ever since. Several months have passed since she died, but he is always weeping.

He shows no sign of recovering from the pain of losing her. Rather, he seems to be getting worse day by day, and he also refuses to use day care service for the elderly. We currently have a helper to prepare his meals twice a week.

I’m his only son, and I live with my wife and child. I invited my father to move to our place to live with us, but he didn’t listen. He said he wanted to continue living in his own house, which he says is filled with good memories of my mother. Because of my work and my child’s school, I can’t immediately return to my hometown in the countryside.

My cousin, who lives near my father’s place, visits him almost every day to check how he is doing and bring him food and other things. But I’m aware I can’t depend on my cousin for as long as I want.

My father was a schoolteacher until retirement. He was a strict father to me, but I respected him. I’m very sorry to see him this way.

W, Tokyo

Dear Mr. W:

I’m not certain how helpful I can be to you, but I’ll tell you something based on my experience.

Now that his precious partner is dead, your father doesn’t care about himself and things happening in society. He may even think there would be no problem if he died. It’s natural he doesn’t want to leave his dear old house.

So, for the time being, help and support him and improve his living environment, even if you seem annoying, so that he can live by himself. Continue doing this until he can live independently. Even if he feels annoyed, don’t stop. Continue interfering in his life to allow him to return to his usual daily life.

Additionally, it’s important that you, your family and the people who have ties with him try to make him feel there are people who are happy he is around and who depend on him.

If he becomes aware that he is needed by people, he will probably be encouraged and feel like living positively again.

Never, ever treat him as a person who needs protection.

Taku Mayumura, writer

(from March 14, 2016, issue)Speech

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