Feb 21, 2010


Dear Judy
I recently lost my daughter and son-in-law in a terrible car crash.  Their toddler survived but has suffered brain damage.  In my grief and sorrow I immediately took him under my wing but now I am finding that he is more than I can handle, I feel trapped, depressed and unhappy and I honestly don't know how much longer I can go on looking after him.  He is 6 years old now. - Pat, Ontario

Dear Pat
It is normal to react with depression when it come to grief and change.  The accident was a great shock to you and has mean that you chose to change your life around in order to meet the needs of this little child, your grandson.  This is not only a huge responsibility but if you are finding it too much to handle, you really need to look into getting extra help from other family members or a nanny with some nursing qualifications who can help you out from time to time.  It is essential that you get out and about and feel free yourself sometimes and have a complete break.
With renewed energy and assistance you could probably continue taking care of him again.  If you still feel overwhelmed, discuss options with your doctor or a social worker.
Sorry about this tragic loss.  Judy
Hi Judy,  Ever since I lost my newborn baby due to unforeseen circumstances, I hardly feel that life is worth living.  I found her dead in her crib at the age of 3 weeks.  There was nothing wrong with her and they diagnosed her death as being due to "cot death".  I have kept her nursery just as it was six months ago when this happened and I have all her little clothes.  My husband wants us to have another baby, but I can't bear the idea of trying to replace little Shelly.  - Brenda, CT

Hello Brenda ~ firstly, I must say how sorry I am for your loss.  I take it this was your first child.  A cot death is very shocking as it is something least expected in a healthy baby.  Don't blame yourself and don't feel that you must rush into having another child or hasten the grief and depression you are feeling.  That is normal under the circumstances.  In fact, if you were not feeling this way, you would not be showing a normal reaction to the shock and loss you have experienced.  Your husband probably wants to help end the sadness and not replace Shelly at all.  When you feel ready to have another child, remember that cot death is unusual.  Read up all you can about it and invest in a monitor.  Think of your new baby as a sibling to Shelly and not a replacement.  When the time is ready you may like to re-decorate the baby for a new baby or you may decide to use the same little clothes.  Do give each new baby a new mattress, however.  All the best to you.  Judy

Jan 8, 2010

Breaking with the past

Judy, I am trying very hard to get rid of hoarded paperwork.  I threw out my memoir s describing my first marriage and the reasons behind the break-up - only to find my children when older wanted them and I was forced to re-live the bad memories all over again, when I could simply have handed them the memoirs.  Since then, I am afraid of throwing out old letters, diaries etc., in case I should need them again.  At the same time I realise that some of the info I have kept may cause embarrassment or hurt when I pass away and my family  goes through them.  What on earth can I do to break with the past?  Valerie, LA

Valerie, I can understand your feelings.  Here's what you do.  Next time when you are in the mood for tidying up (don't try this when you are tired or feeling negative about life) go through those docs one page at a time.  Decide what could be hurtful and score it out with a black marker if you want to retain the rest of that page for any reason.  Scan that page/letter/note to disc and tear up the paper.  Very soon you will have all your closets, drawers and other storage places free of clutter.  Not only that, you will be releasing all the negative memories.  Someday you may find yourself going through that scanned info and wondering why on earth you would want to keep it - the joy then being - just press the delete button!  Let me know how things go!

Hi Judy, my name is Helen and I am a 36 year old woman trying to cope with letting go of a painful past.  My brother was killed several years ago and my parents are deceased.  I have held on to most of their clothing amongst other things.  I am soon to be married and I would like to know from you how I can make it easier to let go of these items.

Helen, you have realized your need to let go of your loved ones belongings, which shows that you are actually ready to deal with this matter and you may find it easier than you imagined it would be when your grief was still raw.  I know of people who have had quilts made up in memory of their loved ones, using pieces of their clothing.  You might like to do that.  Other items could perhaps be framed as mementos.  Once you have done this, you will feel that you have honored their memory and you should be able to pass the rest on to a charity shop to help others.  All the best.

Jan 7, 2010

Unwelcome Visitors

Hi Judy
Seasons greetings to you. I want to know what to do about this problem! We live at the coast and my home is fast becoming a revolving door with visitors in and out. I don't mind having family members but friends, distant cousins and friends of friends are all beginning to pitch up throughout the year. I feel overwhelmed as if my home is no longer my own.
Joy Bryan

Hello Joy ~ clearly you are being used as accommodation and if the people who are abusing you in this way are bold enough to do this to the extent that they are even adding to their numbers, then you must be bold enough to adopt the same attitude and lay down your boundaries. Be straightforward.  Tell them that you have had to adopt a new family policy that only relations may stay over and visit for holidays.

Hi there Judy
My husband recently took in a couple who said they were homeless. He picked them up during a storm to give them a lift and they ended up here. I told him to get them out of my house but he says I am being both unreasonable and unkind. What do I do? Should I LEAVE? -  Lucy

Hello Lucy
Whatever the conditions are that brought this couple into a state of being homeless, you have to be very cautious about who you invite to stay in your home. You have the safety of your children to think about, your privacy and your resources. I would ask a social worker to call by to see how this couple can be helped. They are sure to investigate their background and possibly place them in a homeless shelter until things improve. For all you know, this couple could be opportunists. Don't get taken for a ride. It is unfortunate that you have let it go to the point where you are considering moving out on their account.

Dec 28, 2009

Avoiding Diabetes and (2) Falling Pregnant

Hi Judy, tell me - is there any possible way that a person can AVOID getting diabetes?  Lyn, Fern Valley

Hi Lyn, the answer to your question is simply yes.  Try not to put on too much weight.  Use as little margarine on your toast as possible.  Change from rich butter to margarine light and spread, then scrape off (you will get used to it).  Eat more fruit.  Eat less sweet foods.  Don't eat the fat on strips of bacon and trim off all the fat from your meat portions before cooking. Try grilling instead of frying and poaching eggs instead of frying.  Steam fish.  If you go to the link I have placed above, you will find branches that meet regularly and give cookery classes and other advice.

Judy, my husband and I have tried every trick in the book to fall pregnant and we are not getting any younger.  Can you suggest some fertility clinics for us PLEASE! - Jacky Burmeister, Johannesburg

Jacky, you are wise not to beat around the bush (or in this case, the bed) any longer.  Here's a list of excellent clinics in your area and others just in case you should relocate at any time.  Let me know the results!

Femina Clinic, Pretoria (012) 304-1700
Gynomed Clinic, Roodepoort (011) 796-1100
Medfem Clinic, Sandton (011) 463-2244
Cape Fertility Clinic, Cape Town (021) 674-2081
Groote Schuur Fertility Clinic, Cape Town (021) 404-6027/8
Por Elizabeth Fertility Clinic (041) 374-8942

Nov 18, 2009

Postnatal Depression

Hi Judy, I gave birth five months ago and instead of being immensely happy (as I imagined I would be) - I find myself feeling sad about the loss of my pregnancy, all the attention I received and am feeling isolated at home.  Some days I even feel suicidal!  Can you help? - Samantha, Johannesburg, SA

Hello Samantha
What you are suffering from is PND (post-natal depression).  Please see your general practitioner right away and don't delay.  He may decide to help you by prescribing anti-depressants to carry you over this period of your life.  In any case - here are some people who can assist you in your region:
Post-Natal Depression Support Association (PNDSA) - Tel 082-882-0072 or visit them at this website where you can receive a list of support groups in your area.

Family Life Centre, Johannesburg - Tel (011) 833-2057
The toll-free suicide hotline in South Africa is 0800-567-567. 

Judy, what are the symptoms of post-natal depression?  I am almost certain that my daughter is suffering from it.  - Caroline, Cape Town

Hi Caroline - I'll give it to you in a bullet list for easy reference:
  • Feeling anxious and/or irritable
  • A melancholy feeling for no apparent reasons, especially on waking up
  • Being unable to sleep even when the baby sleeps through the night
  • Feeling of lethargy and disinterest in things which were formerly enjoyable
  • Being unable to cope and enjoy the new role of motherhood and/or even the baby
  • Change in appetite
  • Panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts
Caroline, if you suspect PND in your daughter, speak to her without delay and encourage her to seek help.  
See above for details and here are two extra forms of assistance for PND:
The Parent Centre, Cape Town (021) 762-0116
Linda Lewis, a psychologist who runs a PND support group (021) 685-6172
The toll-free suicide hotline in South Africa is 0800-567-567.