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by Abigail Van Buren

Harassed Female Office Worker Should Start Taking Names

DEAR ABBY: My father died a few months ago. Mother is suffering and clearly distraught. They were married 44 years. I love my mom and want to help her, but she is constantly telling me how much "torturous pain" she's in. She has always had a martyr complex and has been needy, dependent and childlike. My mother is healthy and works full time, yet I can't help feeling she is somehow using Dad's death to manipulate me into filling her emotional needs and placing me in the role of parent. (I already have three young children.)

I have suggested to Mom that she go to a bereavement group or see an individual therapist. She heard me, but has done nothing about it. Is there anything else I can do? -- CONCERNED DAUGHTER IN NEW YORK

DEAR CONCERNED: Yes. Take your mother by the hand to some bereavement group sessions. It will give both of you a chance to bring your issues out into the open. Also, if your mother's "pain" (translation: depression) does not begin to abate, inform her doctor. She may need anti-depressant medication to help her through this difficult period.