I am writing you because I do not know what else to do. I am a 26 year old female who recently left her home and family to make a family of her own. My father and brother both commited suicide, my father when I was 10 and my brother when I was 24. I have a sister who is my best friend but my mother is the issue. My mother was always very compassionate, empathetic and loving but after her divorce from her second marriage, she cares about nothing. She is disabled and has very little money, no job, no partner and suffers from depression. I am getting married next month and had mentioned that I would like to celebrate my marriage with just my fiancee and myself. My mother was very upset with me and refused to talk to me for 3 days. My fiancee and myself then planned a small wedding including 30 guests, fancy wedding and a reception. As the wedding came closer I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed and the realization that my father and brother would not be there was heavy on my heart. I began crying everyday thinking about my wedding and how its simplicty was lost in stupid things like what color the napkins should be and how large the cake should be. I know that deep down I really just wanted to have a wedding completely focused on my marriage vows and really focus on the love that my fiancee and I share. I finally got the courage to ask my mother for her advise and help with being so upset. She laughed at me and told me I was just like my father (who never liked to be the center or attention and I am indeed like him in that way) and that I needed to suck it up and shut up about it. I told her that the reason I was miserable was because I had planned my entire wedding putting her first by including everyone and making it like every other American wedding and did not listen to my heart. She laughed at me when I told her this and says she doesnt even remember being upset about it and genuine said she really doesnt care. I want to tell my mother how much this hurts me and how she is alienating herself from her entire family but I am scared because she has mentioned suicide before and I feel that she does not have anything in her life that she feels is important or that she cares about. She is currently taking medication for depression and only has negative words to say when I speak with her. What should I do?
A: First, and most important: Congratulations on your marriage to a man you truly love. Please don’t let the wedding overshadow what’s really important. A wedding takes hours. A marriage should be for a lifetime. If the family wedding is something you’re doing for others, I do suggest that you and your fiance also have your own private ceremony that is just for you where you can focus on your love and your vows. You can go to a justice of the peace or the two of you can simply go to some beautiful spot and repeat your vows to each other.
I’m so, so sorry about your losses which now number three: Your father, your brother, and your mother. You’ve “lost” your mother, at least for now, to her depression. Please don’t listen to her words. The things she said about your wedding are the depression talking. Like you, she has lost two people she loved. Unlike you, she hasn’t found a way to move forward. My guess is that the laughter isn’t about ridicule or amusement. It’s a cover for anxiety and pain. I’m very concerned that she has talked about suicide. If you can, see if you can go with her to talk to whoever is prescribing for her. The prescriber needs to know how serious her symptoms are. She may not be as forthcoming as she could be. Further, she needs more than medication. She needs a therapist to provide additional support and guidance during this difficult time.
It’s just true that sometimes when people need help the most, they push it away. It may be helpful to organize some of your closest relatives to support your mom. Make an appointment for a consultation with a mental health professional to help you all understand effective ways to help her. I can’t guarentee it will work but I think you’ll feel better if you know you’ve tried everything possible.
Please remember that you carry your father and brother with you in your heart. It’s tragic that the only way they could figure out to end their pain was to suicide. Like your mother, they were too caught in their own feelings to think about how their actions might affect you and the others who loved them. To me, that means that their pain was very big, not that their love for you was too small. I hope you can focus on positive memories and celebrate that your father lives on in the ways you are like him.
I wish you and your family well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Sep 2011
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Mother is negative about everything and alienating the family. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 30, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/09/17/mother-is-negative-about-everything-and-alienating-the-family/