Q. My mother gets confused with her dreams after my fathers death. Could she still be grieving?

Answered by
Dr. Siva Anoop Yella
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Feb 28, 2021

Hello doctor,

I am very concerned about my 75-year-old mother. It has been two years since my father passed away. She told me the other day that she sees him at night. I told her she has to be dreaming, and it may seem real, but it is not. Also, sometimes she may look at an object and sees something else until she focuses. Otherwise, she is fine, still doing her daily routine nothing has changed, even balances cheque books and drives. But I am just concerned about this. Could she still be grieving?



Welcome to

I understood what your mother has been going through, and I am here to help. Does she tell that she can clearly see her husband as she saw him when he was alive, or does she misinterpret something as her husband? Does she talk to herself or imagine talking to her husband even when no one is around? Does she have a normal sleep pattern daily? Is she actively performing her daily chores and activities, or is she appearing dull and low and expressing any decreased interest in her activities? Does she forget anything which she did previously or has difficulty recalling events that already happened? Does she have any other physical illnesses like thyroid disorders, hypertension, diabetes, or any dementia?

Hello doctor,

Thank you for the reply.

She performs her daily duties, and it happens when she is asleep that she says she sees him at times. She does have hypertension. She has not been diagnosed with any dementia. But she does get confused with her dreams and reality at times. One instance happened she called the police to the house because she thought someone was breaking in. When she woke up, she said someone had broken into the house in her dream and thought it was real. She does not get enough sleep, and she sleeps a lot during the day.



Welcome back to

It looks like she has not recovered from her husband's death completely, which is called a prolonged grief reaction. The more she thinks about it, the more she gets fearful dreams. She needs a consultation with a psychiatrist so that she could talk directly, and it would be better for her to express and vent out everything that she has been going through.

Hello doctor,

Thank you so much.

I know she has not gotten over my father's death. But I am getting her to take a multivitamin, and she has started a workout plan. But she does have a routine every day, but I am concerned about the naps during the day and her waking up confused at times. Like I said earlier, it is from the lack of sleep and anxiety.



Welcome back to

I recommend her to be active throughout the day by diverting herself to some of the other activities. It is a good thing that she has a routine that is not making her condition deteriorate. She might be in a condition called dysthymia, similar to depression, for more than two years. People have low mood and function normally in their work but with difficulty and decreased interest compared to before. I advise you to talk to her and ask if she needs any help and assure her that you are there for her no matter what, and make her socially active to come out of the grief.

Good luck.

Hello doctor,

Is there anything she can do about hallucinations when she wakes up from a nap or sleep? She is usually disoriented and confused until she gets herself together. It is almost like a sleep drunkenness.



Welcome back to

It does not look like hallucinations to me what she is having. Does she talk to herself like someone is present in front of her? Did she anytime report seeing someone in front of her who has an appearance of a human? Did she tell that she is hearing voices of unknown people talking continuously with her? If the answer is no to all the above questions, they are not auditory or visual hallucinations. I recommend you to check her blood pressure as she is already hypertensive. Get other investigations also done, which I will be mentioning here.

Investigations to be done:

Complete blood picture.
Blood pressure.
Random blood sugar.
Thyroid profile.
Serum electrolytes.
Renal function tests.
Liver functions tests.

Probable diagnosis:


The only thing she has said to me, we have a chair in the den with a pillow and we she woke up she said it looks like someone was asleep in the chair. . But not once has she heard voices or talk to herself.
# Hello Deloris.
Then it is neither auditory nor visual hallucinations. .Nothing to worry about it.
Precipitating factor was her husband's death which has lead her to dysthymia. I recommend you to consult a psychiatrist nearby if her condition deteriorates for prescription of medications if needed.
Good luck

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