My Grieving Mother has an Alcohol Problem?

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.

1 Comment. Leave new

  • Jan 18, 2012
    Doing nothing.
    by: Calvin

    There are natural consequences to alcohol poisoning. Your mom needs professional help but not from family members. Be her children and stay away from telling her what to do. She needs to grieve and has nothing to give you at this time. Have trust that your mother will find her way. The world at 60 looks much different than it does at 35 especially when you have experienced such a profound loss.


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