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DEAR COUNSELLOR - Lost the will to live

Published:Wednesday | January 28, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Q. MY COUSIN has had a very rough last five years of her life. She retired from her work after a very successful career. She was not prepared for retirement. She was expecting that they would keep her on or at least be offered a contract. When that did not happen, she was devastated. It was her only job and she felt betrayed. She was finding it very difficult to stay home and relax. But to compound her troubles, her lifelong husband died suddenly. It was as if her world came crashing down. They were very close. They loved each other. They did almost everything together. And to top it off, her only daughter died tragically. That was the last straw for her. The funeral was awful for her. She cried a lot. She just lost the will to live. She does not take care of herself. She does not do regular check-ups. She does not do morning walks anymore. She cut off her few close friends. She does not go to social events. She locks herself in the house and watches TV and sleeps. She gets very depressed, especially at the anniversary of her husband's death and her daughter's death. Perhaps another thing that hurts her is that her only grandchild, who was in her teenage years, was taken by the father on the death of the mother. She did not like her daughter's babyfather. She is very irritable these days. What can I do?

A Your cousin has gone through a lot in a short time. She lost her husband and daughter through death and was separated from her grandchild and, finally, she had reached retirement age. It can be very difficult to have so many stressful situations in such a short time. Many persons do not prepare for retirement and, therefore, do not handle it properly. Worse, when work is a major part of life, then retirement can hurt badly.

Furthermore, losing a loving lifetime partner can be one of the most stressful things in life. The one who is closest and dearest to you being no more around can be very painful and takes some time to adjust to. Additionally, the suddenness of her husband's death only adds to the stress. It is not unusual for someone to buckle under such sustained pressure. Too much stress in a short time needs very good coping skills and external help.

Sometimes when a person has achieved much in life, after a while they are ready to die. They always need another reason to live. She needs to set new goals. She needs to re-focus her life. Although the grandchild has gone to live with her father, she needs to have a contact with her and play a role in her development.

You need to encourage her to start her walks and go to the doctor. She needs professional psychological help. In addition, keep in touch with her and visit her as often as you can.

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