Saturday, September 12, 2015

Post Estrangement - Today I am angry

Yes I an angry!

Read the following newspaper clipping for the reply posted to the paper by a grieving parent and see if you feel the anger I feel.

I get angry when someone spouts off without forethought or compassion or understanding about something they don't have a clue about. 

Some people are so glib!  They rattle off comments and thoughts as if estrangement is a simple fixable thing.  They have no clue the devastation estrangement causes. 

This grieving parent who made such a callus reply to the newspaper, aches as she grieves the loss of her child I am sure.  I, even in my own sorrow and hurting can feel compassion for her grief.

But it annoys me that she can so easily, without thought or compassion, discount the suffering of how I and all other estranged parents feel.  She feels that by saying that the possibility exists that I might one day be reunited with my child and my grandchildren somehow makes my grief negligible compared to hers.  That is presumptuous to say the least and wrong on so many levels.

I have been thinking on this for a long time.  Trying to define why is estrangement so hard on us? Why it goes beyond grieving, and why in many ways it is so soul destroying.

Here are some of the reasons (I am sure my readers will remind me of any that I might have missed) that we estranged parents go beyond grieving for our lost child:

#1 Estrangement is an act of rejection and being rejected hurts us deeply.  Rejection reminds us of all the times we have been rejected in life starting from when we were little. We even re-live abandonment issues that linger from our childhood.

#2 Estrangement builds doubt within us, raising questions such as "what did I do wrong" or "how can my child act this way"?  These go way beyond the loss of the child and the relationship. These affect our self-confidence, our belief in our ability to do and be good.  It reflects into all our other relationships as we wonder if there is really something fundamentally wrong with us and if our own child can reject us then maybe others will do the same.

#3 Estrangement is used as punishment.  We feel punished, and often we don't even know why we are being punished.

#4 Estrangement is bullying.  It is used to control and manipulate us.  We feel bullied, why? Because we are being bullied.  We are being cornered by the bully into feeling less than or inferior.

#5 Estrangement brings out in us the fear of "not being good enough".  This is a primal fear, a fear that if we don't perform to the tribe’s standard we will be cast out of the tribe, and in those early days, being cast out of the tribe meant death.  How we deal with this primal fear adds to our distress.

#6 Estrangement isolates us.  Grieving for a death rallies the whole community around you.  Everyone is supportive and giving condolences and sympathy.  Being estranged, people look at you sideways and talk behind your back and sometime even to your face that you must have done something wrong to be estranged.  Beyond grief you are ostracized as well.

#7 Estrangement destroys your dreams. Dreams of what you thought your family was like.  Everything you believed to be true is turned false.  Your dreams are not ended, they are destroyed and there is a huge difference.  With a death the dreams end because time ran out, with estrangement they are destroyed by a willful act carried out by your offspring.

#8 Estrangement robs us of time.  Time cannot be regained even if in the very unlikely chance that there is a reconciliation, the time that has been lost is lost forever.  You can’t go back and relive those years.  You can’t go back and hold a baby grandchild when they are no longer a baby.  You can’t get back all the holidays and special days that were lost.  They are gone. This time is gone not because of fate, but through an act of violence against us.

#9 Estrangement is an act of violation.  It is a deliberate act undertaken with intent to harm.  We feel violated because we have been violated.

#10  Estrangement grief is ambiguous.  It leaves us dangling, uncertain, and fearful.  We are never sure if there may be an ending or not. And even as we contemplate an ending we realize that the relationship is broken.  There will always be long term repercussions.

#11 Estrangement destroys our ability to trust.  This is something that can’t be easily regained.  For most of us we never fully trust again.  There is always the thought in the back of our mind that this can happen again, with any one at any time. 

#12 In estrangment we not only loose our child, we lose a huge part of ourselves.  Sometimes with great effort we can heal some of those parts but even in healing we remain aware of the scars.  Even as we heal our emotional wounds we know them intimately and our wounds are now a part of who we are.

#13 In estrangement we are told by our own child that we are unlovable.  This is an enormous burden to carry with you every single day.  That child that you cared for, nurtured, encouraged and loved thinks you are not worthy of being loved in return.  This is emotional abuse and we live with it day in and day out. 

So yes we grieve just as any other parent that loses a child to death grieves. 
And yes I feel great compassion for all parents that lose a child to death.

But we estranged parents lose so much more, we lose a part of ourselves and we do it in secret, in anonymity isolated and alone.

Renate Dundys Marrello 
2015 - 09 - 12 

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  1. Hi Renate, My emotions and my mind wanted to scream at you before I read what you wrote all the way through. Losing my two children is certainly one of the most horrendous experiences a parent could go through. It is a gut wrenching shock that no matter how they died, it is always not expected. That is how is was for me. My young child was sick with spinal meningitis along with influenza type x and pneumonia. I felt helpless and powerless. The second child to die was my only son aged 20. Two Navy men in uniform came to my home to tell me that my son was dead. I went into shock. I was catatonic. Couldn't scream, couldn't speak, felt like something disconnected in my brain. I did not have support. People stayed away as if my grief was contagious. Parts of my memory banks were destroyed. I cannot remember many things during that part of my life. Now losing my daughters and grand daughter through estrangement was quite different for me. My eldest daughter was my tormentor and she drove me out of my mind. I suffered guilt because I blamed myself for her character flaws. I put up a wall between us because I couldn't take her lies and meanness without going crazy. My other ED hated me. I hated me too. I felt like a failure as a parent and I wanted to end my life so many times because my mind tortured me and I was deeply depressed. When I left them (adults) I felt peaceful for the first time in my life. I did not miss them. Sounds awful doesn't it? But it is true. Now as 16 or 17 years have passed and occasionally I would see them on facebook at my heart would race. I missed them. I was ready to correct and connect with them at a safe distance. Both of them are back in my life and NOTHING has changed. I have put up boundaries and when I feel that my eldest daughter is bullying me I tell her so. I hope I can be able to be not only a mother to them but also a trusted friend. I still have hope that one day we will...with G-ds help.

    1. I feel the pain that every estranged parent feels. I know i devoted my life to my son under difficult circumstances. It wasn't until he and his family became estranged that I saw his true character. I thought he loved me and cared for me. That's false. I love him regardless and wish him well, but i'll never know if and when he dies, nor will he know about me.

    2. I feel I have found confirmation and understanding as to why this is the most heart breaking experience I have been faced with. Some days the pain swallows me up and I want to die just to stop the pain. I hope this site will help me, because society and the medical profession offer very little support.

  2. I ticked offthe boxes as I read through your article. My husband and I experience all of those, and have for the past 4 years of no contact and rejection

  3. It is usually not about what you did or didn't do but more about the people they hook up with that convince them to turn away. In any case the pain would be horrendous.

  4. My son is doing everything you spoke about. Can' t change him, but the core my heart hurts, but I guess he feels that if must blame someone it is me.

  5. thank you for son who is 30 has been doing this to me and our entire family for the past 8 years. He got married at age 22 and moved out. Before that we were always a close family and never had any problems. The daughter n law changed everything. She set out to alienate him from his entire family and that is what he allowed to happen. Somehow she has managed to brainwash him against his entire family. (Parents, Grandparents, sister, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins).She is mean, controlling and manipulative. He has been in and out of our lives during these past 8 years but it's been all on HER terms. Two grandchildren have been used to hurt us. Now the latest is we are being told that we will never see them again. One is 4 and one is 1 . I struggle with this daily.

  6. I am going to copy this article and these replies. I am going to circulate it to my closest friends and certain relatives. I cannot and will not continue to be with them unless they fully understand this pain and the rage that still feel that is surely going to shorten my time here on this earth. I told my cardiologist that my heart was broken and he said there was a condition that went along with such a thing. At 76 now I am fighting to have the best life that I can under these circumstances and I don't want this to shorten my life. I feel badly that my children; and their children will also have to suffer in the future because of these decisions.
    So I thank you for this article. I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't found you and others like you who have been, and still are suffering after being abandoned by their children.

  7. I have had both estrangement and death. Estrangement is definitely worse.It is so unnatural. Either way, we have to accept the situation at face value or lose our minds.My wish is for no one, ever, to have to experience either, but that is not the way our world is.My advice to anyone experiencing either is to find a good faith source, whatever your faith may be. If it had not been for mine, I would have perished. We cannot allow our children and their actions to define who we are, live your life to the fullest, happily. Life is short.

  8. Estrangement is such an awful form of rejection. Our oldest child (dtr) has been estranged from us for 16 yrs. Periodically, she enters our lives, only to leave again. We don't really know her children, and they don't know their grandparents, aunts and uncles or cousins. They have an entire family awaiting them! I appreciate your writing about estrangement, because it is something that people do not ever discuss. Every point that you've made is one that we, too, have experienced, and we feel so isolated. Thanks to everyone who has replied to your blog entry!

  9. #6 -- Yeah -- nobody brings you a casserole or a cake to support you through your time of grief. Everybody gets amnesia and forgets who you are and what's your phone number.

  10. With regard to those who have lost a child thru death for which I am truly sorry ~ you have been spared the pain of estrangement, 'living death.'
    I wish they would realize that they don't have 'all the time in the world' to reconcile.
    Because there will be no grief like the grief they will feel when it's 'too late.'

  11. I've only been at this for 2 months now and this blog entry describes my circumstances -- every point. I went from getting a great Father's Day written thank you and detailed spoken appreciation (as well as previous sudden acts of appreciation for being a great dad, not related to money or special favors) to being shunned one month later. I went to her mother's house (my ex-wife) and the grandparents were happy to see me but my daughter was not. She wouldn't even come out of her room to greet me on my birthday. She called her mother (away on business) and the ex relayed what the our daughter said. I thought about banging on the door until she came out, but realized that's not going to happen and would end up humiliating me further.

  12. Hello Renate,
    Thank you for addressing this important topic. I have had both experiences. My 3 year old son died suddenly many years ago. Then subsequent to a separation and brutal divorce from a diagnosed Borderline Personality/ Sex addict/ sociopath I lost my other six children because I dared to speak the truth. For many years I've said that the difference is the rejection I feel as a Mom. So painful! You have said it so much more eloquently than I ever could. Both situations I wouldn't wish on anyone. Lifelong agony.

  13. This nightmare of being estranged by our own children never ends. It actually increases with every passing day, every Mother's day, every birthday, every Christmas.... as we reminisce how many years have gone by. We have lost everything, including the future. Shocking! We do not have a grandma's brag book, no flowers for our losses. We stop attending weddings and functions just to avoid the questions and the strange looks and the hearing of other family gatherings.... We can barely breathe some days, at times waking with gasping and whimpering after a long cry from the depths of the heart. Yes we can function in society, barely, and we can smile. But when we come home to the empty walls, with no love waiting for us, we must resign ourselves to our new life, with few common friends, new interests, and try to accept our shattered world. My only consolation is that God loves me truly and knows my deep suffering. I know I won't be rejected ever, only loved. It is hard to see it at times but as we grow in this love, we see things from new eyes and are able to count on that love. We learn to love ourselves, with new dignity; we form boundaries and then realize that there are so many seniors who are also abandoned, sad beyond words. If we have any love left in us, we can reach out to some of them, even for a moment.... Oh, and one other slight consolation, which I did not enjoy, is that these estranged offspring will be in for a huge shock when they find out there is nothing for them, after my funeral....