Sunday, January 31, 2016

Post Estrangement: Healing versus Grieving

I think that after being estranged there are two very distinct patterns in ours lives. 

There is grief and there is healing. 

In the beginning it is very clear that we spend our time totally immersed in the grief. We can't even see a way to live beyond the pain of the grief.  This grieving period lasts a very long time.  Each person has to know and decide when it is time to move forward into healing. No one can tell you to move on.  Those comments made by others to encourage us to move on actually create anger and even more resistance as we respond with "I need to do this in my own time".

There comes a point in time though, whenever that is, when a cry comes from the soul that says, "this is not living, I need to move on".  When that day arrives you begin healing.

What I have found though is that there remains an overlap. This is probably because of the "ambiguous" nature of our status.  We are still parents of living adult children they just are not in our lives.  And I do believe that a portion of our hearts will always remain connected to the grief of that experience. 
However healing mode allows us to make a life beyond the estrangement.  

Sometimes we are more in healing mode and at others we slip back into grief mode.  The important bit to recognize as this transition occurs, is to recognize when we slip into grieving again and take the counter measures to begin healing again.  

I find it is a balancing act,  I start each day reminding myself of all the steps I am taking on my healing journey.  It keeps me firmly planted on the side of healing even when I am tempted to slip back into grieving.  

What is the difference between grieving and healing?  

Grieving is looking back at what was lost and healing is looking forward to alternative might be possibilities.

There is also a clear distinction behind the ruminating questions that occupy the mind. These questions clearly help me define where I am engaging my thoughts; healing or grieving. 

When I am in grieving mode I ask the unanswerable questions. They are those questions that I can't ever know the answers to:

- Why are they doing this?
- Are they happy doing this?
- What did I do wrong? 
- What did I do to deserve this?

When I am in healing mode I ask questions that I can answer:

- What can I do now?
- What do I need now?
- What are my plans for the future that honour me?
- Where do I want to focus my energies today and tomorrow?

The good days are the days when more of my ruminating thoughts run to the second category.  My bad days are filled with ruminating thoughts about the unanswerables.

As you process the emotions of grief and then embrace the emotions of healing this is a good guideline to follow to know if you are on track.

What questions do you ask yourself?
Is it time to ask healing questions?
Are you aware of the questions that keep you stuck?
Is it time to change your focus?

Only you know when you are ready to take that next step.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2016 - 01 - 31

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  2. So, so, so helpful and true. I felt everything that you mentioned, but didn't realize that I was going through a process. I also found it useful to remember that my daughter is God's daughter FIRST. This helped me realize that he would keep her safe. And keeping my love for her upfront in my prayers and day to day thoughts pulled me through those murky days.

  3. Renate, oh my, how your words touch and breathe life. I am so in this place right now - the differences between healing and grieving are just now showing signs of clarity. Though the two overlap, they are dismantling; slowly, purposefully with more continuity than ever. I love and appreciate your wisdom. Peace.

  4. I am approaching my 1 year anniversary from my 2 daughters excluding me from their life. Lots of long tough days and I still find myself in the What if and Why state. Trying to learn to stop that dreadful spiral and just let go.

  5. Thank you for sharing this helpful post.

  6. Thank you for this. The one issue I rarely see addressed is how this estrangement impacts all other family relationships. You may lose one child but all family members are connected and entire families are suddenly dismantled. This is the hardest part.

    1. You're welcome.

      I agree whole families are affected, divided, confused, disrupted. All family gatherings are altered, who does one invite, not invite. Fear grows as people wonder if stories are told and gossip flourishes.
      The repercussions go on and on.
      People choose sides and thus family dynamics change.

      Those most deeply affected lose trust, relationships become strained as the person without trust now pulls away to try to protect themselves from further harm.

      An estrangement affects generations on both sides of the event with grandchildren, great grand children and great grandparents also suffering loss of connection and contact.

      A single broken relationship affects a multitude of people, and not just within the family but also within the friends of the family.

      Estrangement is a total disruption of the fabric of the social life of the family and the friends of family across four or more generations.

    2. I so agree with this post.Everyone is affected by this estrangement by my daughter. It affects what should be happy occasions in our lives and yes affects all the generations,so so cruel and devastating for everyone concerned. I continue to hang onto my faith and prayers to cope. Best wishes x

  7. Thank you so much I never knew how many other parents were also going through this painful situation

  8. Thank you for a forum that touches on this painful topic. This isn't how I envisioned life as a mom and a grand mom. I wake up at 3 AM to review/ruminate: what did I say, what did I do/ not do? Why has nothing I've tried helped resolve this? The child I thought was my rock has turned 180, and placed her children firmly behind her. I had a 3 AM Epiphany the other night, a glimmer of understanding, and perhaps I can move past the grief toward a healing. It's helpful to know my experience is not isolated, and others struggle to "keep the light on", but not at my expense. Bless all parents out there, and thank you for words of hope and wisdom.

  9. Thank you,I really am grateful to have found this. Ever since two of my adult children quit talking and seeing me , the loss has been like a death...but with death we grieve, heal and move on eventually. It has been the complete opposite in this situation..the grieving goes on everyday and has continued for year's. It has been the most devasting thing I've ever gone through..I'm trying extremely hard to move on and except their decision that they don't love me for whatever reason...yes,i asked myself "why?" Are they doing this every single day,several time's a day for years...I'm trying to change that because I'll never know the answer to a question that makes no sense. I'm sorry for every parent going through their's like a open wound that never heals,and a constant ongoing ache in our heart's. My life is very unfulfilled without two of my son's, and i just found out two month's ago, I'm going to be a first time grandmother,something I've always dreamed of fear of course is that he won't allow me to be involved,and yet he calls and leaves a voice mssg informing me about the baby ,and saying that he knows how happy this will make happy for him, but if he denies me from my grandchild, why would i be so happy ? I called him several time's too speak to him about his good news, and still won't pick up or return my calls now two month's later. I texted him and said that just being told that I'll be a grandmother, isn't being one.being a grandmother is having a relationship with my grandchild..not from a distance like our relationship has been over 10 yrs. I feel like my feelings are being toyed with,why call and get me completely excited if he has no intentions of allowing me to have a relationship with my grand baby? Obviously i would have heard this joyous news from someone else, like i do everything else...and in a way i wish that i had in this was the first time he had called in 6 yrs...but if he has no intentions letting me be involved, WHY CALL ? I have a terminal illness,and if I'm still alive by the time my grandchild arrives,and they deny my rights as a grandmother, I've decided to use my legal rights as a grandmother and hire an attorney. This child shouldn't be withheld from me just because my son is estranged. Acceptance is difficult, but i know that we must find a way to move on in with our lives ,or we'll never be happy,and experience everything else that life has to offer. Still praying every single day that they'll figure out just how short life really is,and they'll return. Praying everyday that they'll return before my life ends...can't imagine not seeing them at least one more time before that happens. Peace to all..prayers for all !

  10. I find comfort in knowing that I am not alone in this. It is the worst thing and spreads its tentacles far and wide throughout all my relationships. What sort of horrible person am I that my own children and in my case my parents want nothing to do with me at times.? Why should me uncaring sister have children who seem to adore her? Why not me who bent over backwards to give my children very opportunity denied to me?I am lucky that I have a lovely husband who was also a loving father. Without him I would have left this world long ago. I have become a people pleaser to try and establish some sort of credibility. Usually one sided but that does give me some comfort.