My son can’t forgive me for making a new male friend after my husband’s death

A woman shared her sadness over her son's animosity. (Picture posed by model). Source: Getty.

Watching a parent move on following a spouse’s death can be hard for adult children to accept, especially if they deem it too soon.

But one mother has now shared her fears that her son is completely estranging himself from her after she jetted on holiday with a male friend following her husband’s death.

Writing to TV star Richard Madeley in his Telegraph advice column, Valerie – from Edinburgh, UK – revealed she began seeing the male friend shortly after her spouse died three years ago – before jetting abroad with him a year later, in need of a break following a particularly stressful time.

“Friends and family have generally been supportive, but my elder son and his wife distanced themselves from me after my husband’s death,” she revealed.

Valerie explained that her son’s initial anger was over her decision to keep her husband in hospital rather than bringing him home in his final days. However, she said she only made the decision because she felt it was “just impossible because of medical factors”.

However she added: “It’s clear that he is also resentful of my friend. How can I explain to him that my husband was not cast aside to make room for another, and my trip afforded a much-needed chance to draw breath? I had been a carer for years: had my husband lived, he would in all probability have entered a care home.

“Do I just have to accept I am now estranged from my son and daughter-in-law?”

Richard had a very blunt response for the worried widow, insisting she was in the right and she was simply falling victim to “judgmentalism”.

“How disappointing for you that your son and his wife have adopted such a blinkered, unforgiving stance,” he began, before launching a few angry words about judgemental people as a whole.

However, he then offered some advice, telling Valerie it wasn’t anyone’s business but her own where her husband died and reassuring her that she did everything she could to ensure she did what was best for him at the time.

He went on: “Meanwhile, what exactly did they expect you to do afterwards? Go into some kind of self-imposed purdah? Why shouldn’t you take a break after all those years of caring for your husband (and sorting out all the paperwork after his death? Did your son offer to help you with this? I think you would have mentioned it if he had).

“As for your decision to seek companionship, once again that’s no one else’s concern. Why should you have to second-guess what frankly (forgive me) sound like a right pair of prigs?”

Read more: How soon is too soon? Over-60s discuss moving on from a spouse’s death

He told Valerie to focus more on her wider friends and family’s support of her new friendship, even perhaps asking them to help her persuade her son and his wife round.

“And if they still insist on clinging to the moral high ground? Leave them up there, Valerie. You have a life to live with the rest of us down here in the real world of hard choices,” he concluded.

Do you agree with the response? Have you been in a situation like this yourself?

Join the community that will get you through the hard times ahead.

Starts at 60 is the community you need when Covid-19 is changing life as we know it. We stick together, help each other, share information and have a whole lot of fun online.

Join for interactive online events, expert advice, timely news, great deals and community conversation.

Leave your comment

Please sign in to post a comment.
Retrieving conversation…
Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up