Dear Mr. Dad: My mom passed away three months ago. I moved into my parents’ home to support my dad through these hard times. The problem is that it’s like I’m in prison where I can’t do anything. I feel sad and depressed and find myself crying a lot during the day. Is that normal? My dad and I don’t get along either. He’s messy and I’m not. I like structure and he doesn’t. It’s a nightmare—what can I do?
A: When you look at lists of the most stressful life events, the death of a spouse or close family member and moving to a new house are at or near the top. You and your dad are both dealing with a huge amount of pressure. As a result, it’s not surprising that there’s some friction between you.
Losing a parent is very different than losing a spouse (notice that I’m not saying “more” or “less,” “easier” or “harder”—just “different”).