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How to Cope When Estrangement Has You Stuck

By Marie Morin December 20, 2023 Family

Estrangement from loved ones can be an incredibly challenging and emotionally taxing experience. Whether it’s a temporary disagreement or a prolonged separation, the pain of estrangement can leave you feeling stuck and overwhelmed. In this blog post, we’ll explore practical ways to cope with the complex emotions that arise during estrangement and offer guidance on finding a path forward.

Your feelings and perceptions are valid whether you are an estranged parent, adult child, or family member. The spectrum of reactions is as varied as individual experiences that underlie family cut-offs—navigating your present emotional state and ongoing well-being benefits by exploring strategies that improve your day-to-day outlook.

Acknowledge and Validate Your Feelings

It’s essential to recognize and accept the emotions you’re experiencing. Acknowledging sadness, anger, confusion, or a mix of various feelings is the first step towards healing. Permit yourself to feel without judgment.

Process Your Grief

Grieving the loss or distance in a relationship is a natural part of the healing process. Allow yourself the time and space to mourn, understanding that grief is a complex emotion that requires acknowledgment and exploration.

Seek Professional Support

Estrangement can take a toll on your mental health. Consider seeking the guidance of a therapist and specialized estrangement coach who can provide a safe space to express your emotions and work through the challenges. Professional support can offer valuable insights and coping strategies.

Set Boundaries

Establishing clear boundaries is crucial during a period of estrangement. Determine what you need to protect your emotional well-being and communicate these boundaries respectfully. This might involve limiting contact, taking a break from social media, or creating a buffer zone until both parties are ready to engage in constructive dialogue.

It’s important to create clear, adaptable, memorable, and healthy boundaries.

Finding Empathy

  • Both you and your adult child are experiencing psychological challenges.
  • Empathy is important in the reconciliation process.

Communication Skills You Need When Your Child is Disrespectful

As Dr. Joshua Coleman describes, these include:

  • Recognizing signs of inner turmoil in your adult child.
  • Avoiding common mistakes in communication during estrangement.
  • Modeling behavior and applying love with limits.

Boundary Plan as described by Dr. Joshua Coleman

  • Steps for setting boundaries with an estranged adult child.
  • Importance of staying calm and nonreactive.
  • Refusing engagement on a hostile level.
  • Establishing your purpose to move forward day by day.

Moving forward doesn’t mean forgetting; it means taking one step at a time. Set small, achievable goals for yourself each day. This could be as simple as engaging in a positive activity or focusing on a personal project. Small victories contribute to overall progress.

Prioritize Your Well-Being

Your well-being should be a top priority. Ensure you get enough rest, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and engage in activities that bring you joy. Consider a daily routine; it need not be complicated. A balanced and healthy life contributes significantly to emotional resilience.

Here are 5 tips:

  1. Prioritize self-reflection; journaling can be therapeutic for untangling emotions.
  2. Create new traditions; ones that bring joy and positivity into your life.
  3. Connect with supportive friends and family; share your journey with those who understand.
  4. Practice mindfulness to stay present and grounded; meditation can be a powerful ally.
  5. Seek professional support when needed; a therapist or specialist in estrangement can provide personalized guidance.

Forgive Yourself and Your Estranged Loved One

Forgiveness is a powerful tool for healing. It doesn’t mean condoning the actions that led to estrangement, but it releases the hold those actions have on your emotions. Forgiving yourself is equally important; we are all human and fallible.

Defining Forgiveness

  • Forgiveness is a conscious decision to release resentment and the desire for revenge after harm.
  • The Process Model by Enright (2015) and the REACH Model by Worthington (2006) provide theoretical frameworks for understanding forgiveness.

Psychological Processes of Forgiveness

  • Cognitive restructuring, perspective-taking, and empathy are essential in the forgiveness journey.
  • Emotionally, forgiveness involves cultivating empathy, compassion, and acceptance (McCullough et al., 1997).

Benefits of Forgiveness

  • Research shows that forgiveness leads to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression (Toussaint & Webb, 2005).
  • It improves relationships, heightened emotional resilience, and positive physiological outcomes.

Challenges to Forgiveness

  • Overcoming deep-seated resentment, addressing vulnerability fears, and societal expectations pose challenges.
  • Navigating these challenges is crucial for fostering forgiveness.

Cultural and Societal Perspectives

  • Forgiveness is influenced by cultural and societal norms, shaping individual perceptions and enactments.
  • Cross-cultural studies reveal diverse global manifestations and understandings of forgiveness.
  • Forgiveness is vital in societal harmony, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding.

Practical Applications of Forgiveness

  • Forgiveness therapy, proposed by Enright and Fitzgibbons (2015), offers structured frameworks for the forgiveness process.
  • Integrating forgiveness into daily life includes practical applications and incorporating forgiveness practices into religious or spiritual traditions.

Practice Acceptance Each Moment

Acceptance is a continual process. Embrace each moment for what it is without judgment. This doesn’t mean you have to like or agree with the situation, but accepting it allows you to focus on what you can control.

Navigating the challenges of guilt and regret as an estranged parent starts with embracing acceptance. Understanding that experiencing these emotions is a natural response to the circumstances is crucial.

The deep bond between a parent and a child, when disrupted, often brings about intense feelings of loss and sadness. Permit yourself to undergo these emotions without self-judgment. It is perfectly acceptable to shed tears, to feel vulnerable, and to mourn the altered dynamics of the relationship. Recognize that allowing yourself to acknowledge these feelings is essential to healing.

Practice Self-Compassion

Be kind to yourself throughout this journey. Treat yourself with the same understanding and empathy you would offer a friend. Recognize that healing takes time and that you deserve compassion from yourself.


Coping with estrangement is a multi-faceted journey that involves acknowledging and validating your feelings, seeking professional support, and implementing practical coping mechanisms. By processing grief, setting boundaries, purposefully moving forward, prioritizing well-being, and practicing forgiveness, acceptance, and self-compassion, you can navigate the complexities of estrangement and pave the way for healing.

Remember, the path to recovery is unique for each individual, and with time and intentional effort, you can find a way forward to emotional well-being and peace.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you grieving the estrangement of a loved one? What practices are helping you feel supported? What is your daily routine and how does it help you maintain a good physical and emotional health?

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Frances Little

I have been seeing a licensed speed social worker for 18 months and a psychiatrist for six months. I have good days and bad days. My family has never experienced this type of behavior. The emotions are raw and gut wrenching.

14 days after my 2022 stroke which left me blind my adult son called me and said we’re really not that close anymore mom. I feel our relationship is strained. Research I believe his wife is a narcissist who has gaslight him. The last time I spoke to him was seven months ago, I got a happy birthday! Christmas text and a merry Christmas! Christmas text. Seen my seven month old granddaughter once in July and once in August. Same with my eight-year-old granddaughter.


Hi Frances:
Thank you for sharing here. I am sorry you are going through this. I have a few ideas. Perhaps a therapist who can spend more time with you and help unravel and create a plan to help you cope would be more helpful. Have you tried to contact your son and perhaps meet with him alone? I am not sure what your exact circumstances are with your son; however, from what he wrote you, he notices you are not close. Perhaps he may want you to reach out and connect with him. He may not know how to say this.
Or you have tried and he does not reciprocate.

For parents to move forward, no matter what the contact is what our children and grandchildren is to find as much acceptance each day as possible. You still have a life and the ability to find joy again.
All the best.


Forget about them. Live your life.

Joni caswell

My daughter says she doesn’t like being around all the other siblings in my marriage. I have 3 and he has 3. Every holiday she throws a fit and leaves out with her kids and causes a big scene and it hurts her kids to have to leave. I have tried separate events and everything I can think of . She tells me I’m stupid and old and don’t talk to me for months at a time. She won’t let me be around her kids a lot

Renee Lovitz

This won’t be true for everyone, but for me, the grandson telling me off and letting me go turned out to be a gift!! Sometimes you are better off without the negative person!!


So many insightful articles on estrangement. I am faced with a strange situation. An adult child ( aged 30 ) who has issues , wants to keep his distance , will not share meals & social gatherings … and yet insists on living in our home till date. Moving out is sure to give us all the space we need and “real” taste of the “real” world too … and yet i am unable to give a firm ultimatum ….


Hi H A:
It sounds like it may be helpful to learn how to set boundaries with your son.
It may be the best thing you do for him and for yourself.
People usually do not like having a boundary set on them.
However, without one, there is too much one can grow resentful about.
Let me know your thoughts.

The Author

Marie Morin is a therapist and wellness coach at Morin Holistic Therapy. She helps women develop a daily self-care routine, so they overcome perfectionism and limiting beliefs and be their most confident selves. Marie is a grateful blogger and YouTuber. Find out more at and contact her at

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