In her new column, Majella O'Donnell addresses your everyday problems. To get in touch with Majella anonymously email email@example.com.
My elderly mum can’t cope with the pain of losing dad
My father passed away a year ago after a short illness, and it has sent my mother into a spiral of grief. She lives alone now and I am very worried for her. She cries all the time and never wants to leave home.
She tries to bring every conversation back to him and seems to still be in shock over his death. We try as a family to get her out as much as we can, but she has no interest really, and wants to get back home. She is 75 and they were married for over 40 years.
I feel so helpless for her and I try to explain that Dad had a good life and he would want for her to go on, but I feel she has given up on life.
Joyce, Co. Wexford
Majella's Answer: Dear Joyce,
I am sorry to hear of the loss of your father and that your mother is having such a hard time adjusting to life without him. Your concern for your mother is close to my heart as my own father died very suddenly just over a year ago and after 58 years of marriage my mother has to come to terms with being alone for the first time.
When someone dies very suddenly people react in very different ways. Some people are very vocal with their grief while others retreat into themselves. It would appear that your mother is expressing her grief openly which I think is a very healthy thing and more importantly it’s her way of dealing with it. It may not be your way but you are not in her situation. What you must remember, too, is that a year is a very short time in the grieving process. It’s a huge change in her life that she has to come to terms with. Nothing will ever be the same again. She is not only grieving for the loss of your father but also the loss of her life as she knew it.
I’m sure she knows your father had a good life and that he would not want her to be unhappy but that doesn’t make things any easier. She needs time to come to terms with that and to adjust to a new way of living. I can totally understand her not wanting to leave the house as this is the place where she feels secure and connected to your father.
I think that all you can do for your mother is to be there for her. To listen, even if you’ve heard it all before and to let her talk about him. To be patient with her and to respect the way she is grieving. She is a lucky lady to have a supportive family around her and you can continue that support by taking things at her pace.
It’s great that you are taking her out but if she doesn’t want to go, then that’s OK too. Maybe you could ask her if she would like to go for some counselling.
Sometimes it is easier to talk to someone outside the family that is trained in the grieving process. However, if that is not for her then don’t push it. She will come around in her own time. All you can do is to keep talking, keep listening, keep asking and with time, hopefully she will start engaging in life again.
'He says his marriage is over. Should I trust him?'
A couple of weeks ago on a work night out I kissed a colleague. He was transferred to my department a short while ago and we had immediate chemistry and have been openly flirting. The next day, however, another co-worker told me that the guy is married. I was shocked to hear this and confronted him immediately.
He admitted that it was true, but says that the marriage is over and they are in the process of getting legally separated. Now he wants to take me out on a date. Should I just take him at his word, or am I wrong to trust him since he’s already omitted to mention his wife?
Susan, Co. Dublin
Majella's Answer: Dear Susan,
My first reaction to this question was to say that you should stay well away from that situation. But in hindsight I’m
probably a bit of a cynic. However, you seem to be a bit suspicious of him yourself. One thing I always say to women is to trust their instincts. We usually have very good instincts and if you really listen to what your head is saying, it will usually give you your answer. However sometimes we don’t want to hear that answer!
It just seems to be a bit of a messy start to a relationship, if that’s what you’re looking for. Maybe you just want a fling but at what cost?
Deciding to see this man again would depend on a few factors. For example, is he still living with his wife? If that’s the case I would advise you to tell him to ask you out again when the separation is finalised. Do you really want to get involved in someone else’s problems?
Does he have children? Are you prepared for relationship with a family man? Is his separation amicable? Personally, I couldn’t be bothered with all that hassle.
Although I think when this chemistry or physical attraction happens between two people it’s very hard to ignore — especially as you have already kissed him — do think about what you are getting into and be honest with yourself above all else.
Sometimes we just have to control our emotions rather than just running with them — and that’s presuming you haven’t already done so.
If you have and it all goes pear-shaped, be prepared to accept responsibility for getting involved.
Readers can contact Majella at
Dear Majella, Weekend Magazine, Irish Independent,
27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Majella regrets she cannot enter into any personal correspondence.
Q: Yours is the first page I go to when I get the Sunday paper, and the advice you give to others has also helped me over the years. I feel I could write a book about my marriage difficulties. It's like I have two sides to me, one saying 'stop being so critical, it's not that bad' and the other saying 'no, this is wrong and you need to do something about it'.
Q: This is quite a difficult email for me to write as I don't know where to start or even how to explain myself. I am 28 years old and I have been with my partner since we met when I was 15. We have four beautiful children together - the eldest is seven. Last Christmas I lost my dad after a year-long battle with cancer. At the moment, I don't actually know which end of me is up. I don't know what is wrong exactly, I am so emotional all the time. I have at times wondered if I'm depressed but yet I'm not crying all the time. I just don't feel like me, I feel like someone has taken me away and left me as a shell. I can't get motivated to do anything and I am constantly fighting with my partner whom I love with every inch of my heart.
I have recently separated from my partner of five years. When we met, he told me he was married, but shortly thereafter he left his marriage. From this time onwards, his wife has named me the whore and refused to let her adult children meet me. This came to a head when their youngest son married and I was not invited. Shortly after that, I separated from my partner. At this point he had still not attained a legal separation citing always that his wife needed more time to grieve etc.
From the moment I met our new manager in work, I was attracted to him. I am in my early 20s and he is in his late 20s. I tried not to think about it too much, but at a work event a few months after we met I spent the whole evening speaking to him, feeling a spark and enjoying his company.
Q I've been in a relationship for more than a year and we moved in together a few weeks ago. I'm in my late twenties and he's a little older. I've had one serious boyfriend before, when I was in my late teens and early 20s, and a few not so serious since.