11 Ways to Heal from Adult Child Estrangement
Your heart has been pierced. You have experienced estrangement from a child you thought you would always be close to. It is a devastation you never thought you would experience.
At some point, it’s time to start putting the pieces of your life back together. Even if you’re not feeling it, there are some things to remember to help you to get life going again.
Know You Aren’t Alone
Everyone goes through challenging times – they just don’t tend to advertise it. If you are a member of the Parents of Estranged Adult Children Facebook group, you may be surprised at our numbers. We are a fellowship of pain. There are people on the same journey who understand and can sympathize. You can connect and feel less alone.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
There’s no doubt that you will need time to experience all the feelings that come about with a major life change like estrangement.
Give yourself a break from all the unimportant or non-urgent things that tend to fill up life. Just take it easy and heal your heart. Can you get away for a time to rest and reflect?
Remember All Things Are Impermanent
It feels like this confusion and pain will last forever, that you’ll never be happy again. But that isn’t true.
Everything in life changes. Nothing is permanent. You can trust that this change is a one that will eventually settle into a new transition.
Appreciate Life is Change
Just like nature, life is nothing without change. The winter gives way to spring. The flowers bloom and then hibernate. The moon wanes and waxes.
Life will always have ups and downs that we can’t always see coming. Estrangement is a big change. But there is life beyond it.
Recognize What No Longer Serves You
Usually, when there is something like this in our lives, we know deep down we must accept it. But we often don’t want to face it. It’s a great time to go inward and see what we can release.
We can do that by asking God or our Higher Power to bring those things to our attention, and release the hold they have on you. Many people find this is a process, and they must practicing release many times over.
Let Go of Things Not Serving You
We like to keep the status quo because it makes us feel safe. But, at some point, you must let go of things such as people and situations that are causing pain and no longer serving you. How in the world do we do this?
Acknowledge the Sadness
It’s difficult to cut lose things that we once treasured or felt identified us, such as the dream of a lifetime of family closeness. Allow yourself to feel the sadness of letting them go.
It’s okay to feel sad. In fact, it’s very normal and appropriate. Experiencing all your feelings about the thing is a way to ensure that you can fully release it.
Do all the crying you need to do, but then get up and do something new.
These things or people were once a vital part of our lives. Even when they are draining us in some way, it’s healthy to honor them for where they’ve brought us. It is good to reflect all the things we’ve done together and the people we’ve known.
Honor that which you are preparing to release for all it has taught you and meant to you along your life’s journey. One family I read about honors their estranged child by only having photos from a happier time around the house. That was the child they loved and cherished. The one who is causing them pain now is almost like a different person.
We can let go of the pain, but still honor the good days and years we had.
Let Them Go
Our children will always live and love in our hearts. But we must let go of our negative emotions and our expectations we may have had for them or our relationship with them.
Some parents find it helpful to have a ritual or ceremony where your release these thoughts and feelings into the universe. Maybe you can release some balloons, or burn your journal where you have written down all your pain.
You can do this for YOU – for your own healing. Give yourself permission to move beyond the pain.
Be Grateful for Goodness in Your Life
Your life may look grim, but if you want to find goodness and beauty in your life, you can. You may not have the same life you had two years ago, but you have friends who love you and maybe other family members who adore you. You can appreciate the beauty of the setting sun.
Every life has wondrous things in it. We just have to notice them.
Open your eyes to the good in life. When you start to see it, you will see more of it.
Say No to Negativity
While you surely have friends and family who are loving and supportive, it’s also possible that there are a few negative Nelly’s in your environment also.
Especially now, it’s a good idea to say no to their invitations to hang out. When you feel stronger, you can decide if they are someone you want to continue to have a relationship with. But for now, just say no – as nicely as you can.
Remember that your focus now can no longer be on fixing your child, fixing the relationship or bailing your child out of some trouble. You have had enough of that. It is time to work on your own healing and moving on with your life. It’s not selfishness. It’s grabbing and savouring all that is still good in life. A wonderful, full life still awaits you.
Are you involved in an estranged relationship with your child or children? What steps are you taking to heal yourself and move on from this estrangement? Please join the conversation so that we can support each other.