Unusual grieving behavior


Unusual grieving behavior


your avatar   Kae (50 year-old woman) from New Mexico, USA

Since my mother's death 6 years ago, my father has talked of nothing but their sex life (in intimate detail). He has begun wearing women's clothes when he is at home alone or when family is present. He wears women's underwear including garter belt and nylons all the time now under his clothes, whether it is at work as a contractor or under his suit when going to church. He is still running his business as efficiently as ever and he doesn't talk like this in public. I have brought it up to my siblings and they think Dad is just grieving and I am making too much of this. Am I? And if not, what should I do? My dad is 82 and to my knowledge has never worn women's clothes or talked like this before moms death. He now claims that he's always done it!

Am I making too much of the changes that have taken place in my dads life? If not, what do I do about it?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Kae,

First of all, I want to congratulate on being such a caring, loving, thoughtful daughter. It is clear, even in your short note that your only reason for posting his question is to ensure your father's welfare. Don't ever change.

I am also impressed by your father. He is immensely remarkable! You write that he is 82 years old. He still carries on his work as a contractor, and goes to church, and holds his own in family and social gatherings. This is so exceptional that it borders on the unbelievable.

Not everyone survives to be 82. Those who do are rarely able to carry on a responsible occupation, or attend church, or even to dress themselves unaided.

And sexual activities are often the furthest thing from their minds.

Certainly, his behavior as you describe it is unusual, and therefore "abnormal".

In assessing whether your concern is warranted or not, we must ask a couple of questions:

  • Is he doing anyone any harm? (Apart from causing you daughterly concern)

  • Is he doing himself any harm?

If the answer to these questions is "no", then why not enjoy the fact that your Dad is different? He no longer gives a stuff about the opinions of others, and why should he, at 82?

In fact, I'll share a secret with you. I haven't given a stuff about the opinions of others for most of my life. This attitude started when, years ago, I was counseling a little boy who refused to go to school. My detective work showed up the reason. His father wore a chain around his neck and an earring in one ear. (Common enough now, but unheard of then.) So, the boy went to school with a chain around his neck. The teacher ridiculed him in front of the other kids, and after this he was mercilessly teased by everyone in the school, even though he no longer wore a chain.

Social pressures to conform in trivial ways are destructive, and to be ignored. I congratulate your Dad in achieving this.

All the best,

Bob Rich

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com


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