We lost our father in the middle of December unexpectedly. My mother has had a drinking problem off and on for as long as I can remember. For a week now she has been drinking herself into a funk every evening. My brothers and I have been going to her house in the evenings to sober her up in hopes that she will pull out of it. Are we doing the wrong thing? Should we leave her alone or continue to have people around her? I am at a loss. I understand she had my dad for 47 years but he was also our dad and we are grieving too. We just don’t know what to do.
Losing someone with whom you shared more than half your life is earth shattering. The feelings your mother must be experiencing at the moment beggar belief and she is coping with these in the best way she knows, by drinking. Alcohol is an anesthetic and dulls both physical and mental pain. This is why your mother is using it, she is self-medicating. The problem with this is that when the alcohol wears off the pain is still there and so more alcohol is needed – a viscous circle begins.
The best way to deal with grief is to talk about it. For this to happen your mother needs to be with someone she feels safe with and with whom she can share her feelings. Obviously to do this she needs to be sober.
Your first priority must be to get your mother sober, however, if she doesn’t want to stop drinking then there is very little you can do. The best course of action would be get someone (who your mother trusts and respects e.g. a family doctor, clergyman or old family friend) to talk to your mother and try and get her to seek help.
It is essential for the grieving process that feeling and emotions are got out into the open, your brothers and you must encourage your mother to talk about your father and her husband. Let her reminisce, remember and celebrate his life, not matter how hard it is for you.
All the best.
I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. I have since settled in North Carolina. I have experience working with various stages of addiction, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, trauma, stages of life concerns and relationship concerns.
I tend to use a person-centered approach which simply means that I meet you where you are and work collaboratively to help you identify and work towards accomplishing goals. I will often pull from CBT when appropriate. I do encourage use of mindfulness and meditation and practice these skills in my own life. I believe in treating everyone with respect, sensitivity and compassion.
I recognize that reaching out for help is hard and commend you for taking the first step. We have professionals available who would be happy to help you move closer to reaching your goals related to your drinking concerns. You may reach these professionals by calling 877-322-2694.