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Dear Majella O'Donnell: 'He says his marriage is over but should I trust him?'


Majella O'Donnell

Majella O'Donnell

Majella O'Donnell

In her new column, Majella O'Donnell addresses your everyday problems. To get in touch with Majella anonymously email dearmajella@independent.ie.

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?'

Dear Majella,

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 dearmajella@independent.ie.

Majella regrets she cannot enter into any personal correspondence.

Irish Independent

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