Tell Me About It

I was a good mother, but my only daughter has cut me off

I’ve had counselling for all the hurt I feel, but I continue to feel hurt and cry very easily

PROBLEM: My daughter, my only child, is married with a two-year-old and I moved house to be nearer and try to build a relationship with her.

It hasn’t worked out.

I have seen my granddaughter with my daughter, but the time is always very short and my daughter has no conversation for me. Neither am I shown any affection. I was a good mother, dedicating my life to her, and do not regret any of the many sacrifices I made.

Things happened with a close personal friend, who ended the friendship with me without explanation. I sincerely do not know why. As this person was important to my daughter, she blamed me for the problem and continues to be in contact with her. This person was what I would have regarded as a best friend. We were friends for 53 years and our mothers before us. It was devastating to lose her as a friend, exacerbated by the impact it has had on my relationship with my daughter.

I’ve had counselling for all the hurt I feel, but I continue to feel hurt and cry very easily. I’ve been offered antidepressants by my doctor, but don’t want to take them as I keep thinking it will get better. But it hasn’t.

Unlike others, I have nobody that I trust to speak on my behalf, which I could desperately do with. I’ve tried very hard to open the conversation with my daughter, but she refuses to engage. I can only describe her attitude as adolescent. She has a relationship with her father which I don’t have. I live alone and I’m 70 next year, and, at times, I want to give up and end it all with such a black future ahead.

ADVICE: Loneliness is a tough experience to have so continuously in life and it seems that you have been suffering for a long time. That you moved to be closer to your daughter shows that lack of connection is a huge thing for you and that you are now despairing is testament to the intensity of your current aloneness.

I wonder at your relationship with your daughter that you say she is behaving like an adolescent and what this means she is seeking from you as her parent? Very often adolescents push and rage against their parents while hoping that they will never be abandoned – it can be a test of love or endurance. If this is the case, it might be an idea for you to provide that steadfastness, ie tell her that you will always be there for her and for her daughter and that you are unmovable in this. Then it might be time to make a life worth living for yourself.

Your doctor has suggested that you take some antidepressants and this might be a good idea as you try to engage with enlarging your life. When you feel low and rejected, it can be difficult to summon the energy required to build up your life but small steady steps are the way to proceed. Set an aim for yourself to do one thing a day which is positive in your life: this might be a phone call to sign up for something, meeting a group for coffee or assisting with a campaign. There are numerous bodies that encourage older people to be active and participate in life and all these can be found under the Citizens advice centres.

There are groups that focus on physical activity, group contact, political participation and opportunities for senior citizens and now is the time for you to build a life that is rich in contact and purpose. This will, no doubt take time, but you may have many good years ahead of you and if you develop your self-worth it will be obvious to those in your life that you are a valuable and worthwhile person.

There is no point in our lives when self-development is not an issue (Moses was reportedly 80 when he was asked to lead the Israelites to cross the red sea) and so you must continue with expanding your life and focus on growing your own social connections.

Of course you are full of grief and sadness at the losses in your life and as human beings we heal when our grief is witnessed and understood. There is a senior citizen’s helpline that offers support and listening for loneliness (1850 440 444) and this might help you let go some of your grief while you engage with your granddaughter and let her see the active, positive side of you.

If you take the risk of joining groups and activities, you will model for your granddaughter how to step outside your comfort zone in order to enhance your life and this would be a great legacy to leave.

Determining to make one new contact a week should begin to show results within a month so start the rest of your life today and pick up the phone.