Dear Richard Madeley: 'A bereavement and a difficult marriage have sent our son into a tailspin'

Dear Richard Madeley: 'A bereavement and a difficult marriage have sent our son into a tailspin'
'A bereavement and a difficult marriage have sent our son into a tailspin' Credit:  RII SCHROER/ GETTY 

Dear Richard

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appWe lost our eldest son to cancer at the age of 36 a year ago. Now his brother is working late and drinking in order to face going home. His partner is a lovely woman, but in the past she was very hard on my son, not always for valid reasons.

He has been having counselling after his brother’s death, but refuses to go to couples’ counselling. I think he is depressed but will not seek help as he thinks it could hinder his career path. I am not sure he loves his partner anymore. He is adamant there is no one else and I believe him. They are both suffering terribly in this awful cycle and their two children are getting upset, too.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appAs a grandmother, I help as much as I can with practical things. I know it is probably inevitable they will split up, and maybe that will be for the best in the long run. But the grief I feel at the prospect is almost as bad as the loss of our eldest. Is there anything I can do to help them?

Sharon, via email

Dear Sharon

Yes, there is. There are fingerprints all over your letter to me and they all point to the same culprit. Depression. Your son has depression, and it’s feeding into every aspect of his life: his work, his marriage, his relationship with you. Everything. Of course there may be other issues with his wife, but the power of depression to cause real problems in a marriage should not be underestimated. Living with someone else’s depression is miserable and thankless. After a while, patience and understanding go out of the window and frustration and resentment take their place.

You should talk to your son with one goal in mind: that he seek professional help over and above the grief counselling he’s been getting. Depression is routinely treated successfully and there’s no stigma these days in admitting to suffering from it. As for your son’s career, it’s far more likely to be damaged by a spiral into ever-deepening depression than seeking treatment.

Obviously the trigger for all this was his brother’s death. Bereavement is a major cause of depression, and I repeat: there’s no shame in that. This is an obvious case where an intervention is required. Talk to your husband, talk to your daughter-in-law, then talk to your son. Between you, make this happen.