Estranged son or daughter: Declaring Independence 2016by Sheri McGregor, M.A.
After my son became estranged, one of his close high school friends died in a car accident. At one point, she’d been a daily fixture in our home, like a part of our family. Her death hit me hard.
My family and I attended a memorial fundraiser, and as we sat at a table among the crowd, I fought back tears. Family and friends of this young woman who had touched so many lives gathered to show support and grieve.
That day, I had intended to approach her family and offer condolences, but I was too torn up. My despair over my son’s estrangement mixed with sadness over the death of this beautiful young person whose life had been cut short. On that day, I found myself thinking that the pain of estrangement, with its intentional hurt and uncertainty for the future, was worse than that of death.
In some ways, it’s true. This young adult daughter didn’t choose to leave the people who loved her. Her family didn’t feel the sting of rejection. And with a death, there’s an outpouring of empathy. Others understand the grief. The parents aren’t usually speculated about and judged the way parents of estranged adult children often are. With death, sadness is expected. People allow and encourage grief. With estrangement, the loss is just as significant and painful, yet it can feel as if we have no right to mourn.
Wishes for my estranged son: Wishes for all my children
While I know the horrible ambiguity of loss through estrangement, taking charge of my feelings has helped me leave the pain behind–and move forward for my own good.
While my estranged son is living his life without me and the rest of his family, at least he has life—-the gift I have him through birth. I nurtured him into adulthood. I provided kindness, support, and love. While it’s true that our relationship is not as I once expected (in fact there is no relationship), the last I knew, he was happy.
Like most parents, my most ardent wish for all five of my children has always been their happiness. I know the shocking blow of an adult child’s rejection. I know the difficulty in accepting an estranged child’s unthinkable choice. I know the pain in letting go. But in the end, my estranged son made his own choices about the life I freely gave him. And I could make a choice to do what was best for me.
On this Independence Day holiday, 2016, declare your own independence—from old dreams, and expectations that, at least for the moment, are not in your power to achieve. Just as those who founded America faced unknowns in pursuit of happiness, take heart. Bolster your courage. Have faith that there is a new and wonderful life for you ahead.
Love and hope can remain, but be determined for your own well-being as you escape the tyranny of sadness and pain. You can declare your independence. Look to the horizon of your future with an optimistic dream. Make plans for your own happiness. Take the helm in your beautiful life ahead.
For more specific ways to take charge of your feelings, declare independence, and move forward in your own life, get my book: Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children.