Too Depressed to Start Over

Q: Twenty years ago, my husband left with our babysitter. They are still together with two children of their own. I raised our two sons. Three months ago my younger son and his girlfriend were killed in a car accident. I feel I have nothing left in me to give another person, especially dating, but I want a relationship, and know I need someone in my life to grow with me. How am I going to get past not even wanting to leave the house to meet someone? I just plain feel like the past 20 years have taken their toll on me.

Dr. Susan: They most certainly have taken their toll on you, especially this most recent and tragic loss of your son. I don't think anyone would find it easy to feel energized so soon after losing a child. You may never get over your son's death completely - that's a fact of life when you lose a child. Eventually, though, you will be able to function again and make new human connections and maybe even find a true partner to share your life again.

Have you seen a doctor? What you're describing sounds like depression, and there's probably some post-traumatic shock syndrome thrown into the mix. Sometimes a doctor will prescribe anti-depressants when a person's normal grieving gets so severe that they can't even begin to take steps to really live again. Sometimes we need that help just to get started.

Meanwhile, I'd recommend taking baby steps. You need to reconnect with your friends or perhaps make a new friend or two before seriously attempting to date. Just getting out of the house, signing up for a class, beginning an easy exercise program - any of these little actions might begin lifting your mood. And you'll need to call upon your most positive and resilient state of mind -- not easy right now! - before putting yourself out there in the dating world. After all, it sounds like it's been two decades since you dared love someone, and he betrayed your trust horribly. Bad things happen, as you've unfortunately found out the hard way. But you can make good things happen too, by taking one small step forward at a time.

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