Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Grieving dad wrestles with his rage

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I lost my beloved wife to cancer four years ago. Her death was devastating for me and my three children.

We are all working through our shock and sorrow. My goal through all this upheaval has been to maintain a stable household. I want my kids to feel like the home they love and remember is still here for them whenever they return. Maintaining domestic rituals has helped me work through my own grief. But it also feels like this is having an unintended consequence with my youngest daughter.

While away at college, this daughter has expressed a normal kind of homesickness. She is also a young adult who is testing my boundaries and her independence, which can feel like self-centeredness on her part.

I have a history of anger-related issues. I've tried to grow, but my daughter's displays of willfulness gradually bring out a level of rage in me that even I find surprising. My outbursts end up dishonoring the memory of my wife and ruining everything I'm trying to accomplish, which leaves me feeling very, very sad. I can see the emotional dynamic, but that doesn't keep me from falling victim to it. Where do I turn for help?

-- Angry Father

Dear Angry: I sincerely hope that you have seen a therapist since your wife's death. If you haven't, you should see a professional to help you deal with your anger.

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You should also consider joining a grief support group; these are typically informal meetings with people who have also walked this tough path. Many hospitals provide information on support groups in your area. You may be surprised at how much better you feel simply communing with others.

Remember that you cannot force everything to be "normal" just because that's what you want. Your daughter, on the other hand, seems to be acting-out within the normal range of older teens. It seems unwise and perhaps unfair to gauge your own behavior based on your wife's memory. She is gone; you are grieving and you need to learn to turn down the heat on your anger in order to be gentle with yourself -- and not triggered by your daughter's behavior.

Dear Amy: I am a single woman. I used to be a binge eater. About 10 years ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I have since become fit and active.

I have a friend who is at least 200 pounds overweight. We are both retired. Last year we decided to start taking trips together. I enjoy her company, but after two trips together I am very disappointed in her as a traveling companion. She can barely walk two blocks. We mostly drive around or sit on benches near where we parked the car and watch the world go by. I am so sad and frustrated at not being able to fully explore these dream destinations. I need exercise to maintain my health and I love taking long walks in new places. In addition, watching her overeat at every meal is depressing.


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