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Grief and parenting

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’m 19 and both my parents have passed away, my dad 4 years ago, and my mom a month ago right before my son was born. I’m not sure how to deal with all of this. I feel like I can’t love my son or fiance fully because it seems like every time I become close to somebody they either die or leave.

Also, I know I’ve been dealing with all the stress in the worst way, but I don’t know any other way. When I was 17 I was diagnosed with anorexia, but struggled with eating and weight loss since I was 14. When my anorexia was at it’s best I struggled with drinking, until I became pregnant. Now that my Mom has passed away and I have nobody to go to everything is becoming unbearable and I find myself both not having any urge to eat, and drinking more by the day.

I want to be a good mother and wife, but everything is just building up. How do I deal without paying to go to a therapist?

What you are experiencing is unresolved grief. You must love your parents very, very much. You are right to seek some help now. Your son needs a mother who can fill his little heart with love and comfort and security. The best memorial you can give your parents is to pass the love they gave you on to your little boy. It’s a lot to ask of you when you are feeling so sad and unable to cope. You are falling back into old and self-destructive ways to numb your pain. As you already know, these tactics don’t really work. They only give you another problem to deal with.

Please don’t give up on getting counseling if you are short of money. I did an Internet search of your city and found a community mental health center that takes most insurances, including Medicaid and Medicare. Often such places also have sliding fee scales for those who can’t afford the full fee. Please do give them a call. If neither you nor your fiance have insurance, do talk to your child’s pediatirician about how to get some counseling and support for yourself.

I am concerned that you may be at risk for postpartum depression. Many hospitals and large medical practices have free support groups to help new moms deal with their own issues so they can be the kind of mothers they want to be. A support group won’t solve all your problems but it will be a good start.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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