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Wall of Silence: an artistic expression about living with estrangement

parents of estranged adults

Quilt, copyright: S. Small Proudfoot

This beautiful quilt is an artistic expression about the powerlessness many parents of estranged adult children feel. The quilt itself is gorgeous—-and reveals the lovely soul of a mother who has been hurt, but who has also triumphed. Sharing the quilt here is a way for the artist to help bring attention to the growing trend of adult children who sever ties from caring families. As she said to me this morning, “I hope you are able to continue making strides for a more informed society about this issue of estrangement from family and children.”

Through October 16, the quilt is on display with others at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, California.

What an inspiration Ms. Proudfoot is to other hurting parents whose adult children have cut them off. Read the artist’s statement below, and enjoy some close-ups of different areas of this inspiring piece of art:

quilt-wall-of-silence-4-the-skin-horseTITLE:  WAll of SILENCE” Dedicated to all parents of Estranged Adult Children. The grief felt by parents whose adult children chose to terminate parental relationships leaves nothing but everlasting quilt-wall-of-silence-5-the-velveteen-rabbitheartbreak and sadness.  Margery Williams book, The Velveteen Rabbit, is used as a metaphor for this quilt.  Rabbit, rejected by his beloved child, asks Skin Horse “when a child loves you for a long, long time, does it hurt?”  Always truthful, Skin Horse replies “sometimes”.  From the darkness of despair to the serenity of acceptance, a heart once broken never mends, not to the shape it once was.
quilt-wall-of-silence-2-puppet

Wall of Silence: (c) 2016 Sandra Small Proudfoot, AOCA ’89, Mono, Ont., in collaboration with long-arm quilter, Mary Light, Temiskaming Shores, Ont. Canada

Floral Inspiration:    Artist Carrie Schmitt “She Lived Her Life in Full Bloom”

Can creativity help you heal?

In my book, I shared the stories of many who have healed through art in all its forms—-gardening, cooking, knitting, writing, and more. Formal art therapy works—but people have long turned to creative pursuits on their own as a means to work through troubling times and come away stronger.

Maintaining this website, and writing my book to help parents of estranged adult children has been part of my creative healing process. How have you used creative works to manage and heal from your pain? And if you haven’t yet, what might you get started on today that can help you express yourself and heal. Remember, not all creativity is expressed in traditional art forms either. Creativity can be a facet of many activities.

I hope you will leave a comment appreciating the artistry of Ms. Proudfoot’s quilt shared here, as well as share your own creative ideas that help you to heal.

 

 

A thank you

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

I’d like to express my gratitude to:

  • Members of my forum to help parents of estranged adult children
  • Parents who have written to me
  • Facebook page members
  • People who comment here at RejectedParents.NET
  • Reader reviewers
  • Fellow writers and industry reviewers
  • Estranged parents who helped in my research

mother with estranged adult child
Thank you to online support forum members who encourage others. You lend a broad shoulder to those in need of understanding and care. Your heartfelt posts in our judgment-free zone inspire.

Estranged from adult children, and moving on: a sampling from the forum

Recently, many forum members have moved beyond the anguish of estrangement from adult children, and publicly declared your independence. Thank you. You have inspired others as you courageously stepped forward to—as I say in Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Childrenenjoy your lives!

Some move on with a flourish that’s likely reminiscent of their personalities and their lives—such as this from “Mountainview:” Goodbye-Aufwiedersein. . . .

Others make difficult, important decisions with a steady hand that demonstrates their stability and strength. Such as this mother, who came to a sensible conclusion, and shared it as part of her good-bye: “MJMom’s:” A Journey of Acceptance

Some dance on into their lives with glee. They’re free! As in “Joyful’s” cheery note.

And some move on because they reconcile. “Linwinning” has a story similar to Abbey’s in Chapter 7 of my book, and shared it in her goodbye note to offer other parents hope that they will also one day reconcile.

I’m so glad that you have found some peace, and are confidently walking forward. Your words are important, and help other people.

From Facebook, and in online reviews

mother with estranged adult childThank you also to the mothers and fathers who have sent messages, emails, or posted on the Facebook page . Your comments mean a lot to me and fellow page members. I so appreciate your likes and shares, and am grateful to be a tiny part of your journey. Thank you for your kindness and generosity. There is so much wisdom among you!

To those who share their own experiences of acceptance, hope, and wisdom in reviews at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in comments at various blogs and discussion sites, as well as here at RejectedParents.NET—a heartfelt thanks.

Your input, insight, and inroads to peace and happiness help others who experience the trauma of estrangement from adult children. Your voices of reassurance and support uplift other parents. And your thoughts enlighten a society that still knows very little about the subject of adult children who estrange themselves from loving families.

Professional help

Let me extend my gratitude to Susan Adcox, grandparenting expert at about.com for her Review of Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children. Susan’s site is a valuable resource to many readers.

Likewise, Joi of Self Help Daily offers a plethora of resources to living joyful lives. It’s an honor to have her review of my book among good company.

And thanks to the Nonfiction Authors Association, which recently spotlighted me as member of the week. Much of the posted interview focuses on what led me to write Done With The Crying to help parents experiencing estrangement from adult children, and continues with topics probably of interest mainly to other writers.

The silent majority

Not all of you write letters, or post publicly about your pain or progress. According to recent research, the ratio of those who remain in the background to those who write online for all to see is 90 to 1. I respect your privacy, and appreciate your help—you are among the thousands who have responded to my research survey without further contact, and thereby help others in the same boat (or to get out of it as is advised in the article The Boat!).

Hugs to you as you journey forward on your own unique path. All of you are part of something bigger, a network of kind souls around the globe. As I continue with this site, and potentially add other options to support parents of estranged adults, you help light the way forward for others in health and happiness.

Done With The Crying reviewed at Self-Help Daily

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

book for parents of estranged adultsJust a short note today about a review of my book provided by Joi of Self Help Daily. I’m very grateful she chose to review my book. You can see the review here.

While there, don’t limit your reading to just her review of  the book. Self-Help Daily is a powerful place of positive energy…all wrapped up in joy (which is how you pronounce the site owner’s name, Joi)! Why not stick around for a bit and absorb some of that positive spirit? We can all use a little extra oomph in the happiness and well-being department from time to time. The Self-Help Daily website is a good place to get a sensible perspective that’s also a bit of fun.

 

Father’s Day for fathers of estranged adult children

What about Father’s day for fathers of estranged adult children?

by Sheri McGregor

fathers of estranged adult childrenI’ve asked dads and the people who care about them how they feel. Most of the fathers told me, “It’s just another day.” They blow off the holiday as if it doesn’t bother them at all. But there may be more to the story.

One father of an estranged adult son told me the holiday itself is no issue. “It’s going back to work on Monday that makes me sad,” he said. “Invariably, co-workers tell stories of what their children did for them. And there I am with nothing to say.”

So, what helps?

For fathers of estranged adult children on Father’s Day:

Recognize that feelings of sadness, anger, or frustration may lurk beneath the surface. The glad tales of other fathers can bring them up.

Before Father’s Day, figure out what you need. Then honor those feelings – – even if that means telling other children or your spouse what you really want for Father’s Day.

Plan ahead for the days after the holiday too. If you’re bothered by other dads’ happy Father’s Day tales, have a ready reply. A variation of the following is one way to excuse yourself: “That’s great. I wish I could talk but I’ve got a deadline right now.” An exit plan can help you feel prepared. Sure, this is avoidance, but sometimes removing yourself is the easiest, most self-supportive plan of action – – and it honors you and your feelings.

If you do want to talk, figure out who you’ll confide in. A supportive spouse, a friend who won’t judge you, a trained professional. . . .  Sometimes pets, with their unconditional love, make the best listeners. You could share your thoughts and feelings with God, talk it out to yourself while driving in the car, or speak into a smart phone’s memo app. Consider writing a letter to your estranged child if it helps (you don’t have to send it).

If your spouse asks you how you feel, realize they mean well – – even if you don’t want to talk. A simple thank you, and an assurance that you’re fine can go a long way.  

If you’re a person who isn’t into most any holiday, be aware of any generalized negative feelings about the day tugging at you. Those feelings could mix with negative thoughts about your situation as a the father of an estranged adult and bring you down.

For the people who love fathers of estranged adult children:

Again, recognize that unsettling feelings may lurk beneath the surface. And be cognizant of the days after the holiday, too. Father’s Day for the fathers of estranged adult children in our lives may be easy to get through happily. Then they come home in a foul mood on Monday (connect the dots).

Honor his feelings, let him share if he wants, but perhaps don’t press. If he wants to talk, he will. If he doesn’t, providing support and demonstrating love in quieter ways may help. One wife put it this way: “For the two years our son has been estranged, I’ve always asked my husband if he’s okay. And he always says he’s fine. Maybe it hurts me more than him, or maybe he just doesn’t want to burden me. So, this year again, I’ll pick up ribs from his favorite barbecue place. Then I’ll watch his favorite Westerns on Netflix with him.” Favorite foods, ample space to do as he wishes, and a few kind words about what a great man he is may be best.

A positive attitude.

Really, in all of the responses I received from fathers of estranged adult children about the day, the consensus is right: Father’s Day comes and goes. You get through it. Life goes on.

Related articles:

Holidays: How to manage them

Mother’s Day when your adult child is estranged

History of Father’s Day (outbound link)

Opposite themes in two new “mother-son” books brings awareness to trend

book for parents of estranged adult childrenby Sheri McGregor, M.A.

Occasionally, you find yourself rubbing shoulders with someone unexpected. It happened to me when my new book to help parents of estranged adult children came out the first week of May. To my surprise, CNN’s Anderson Cooper was right next to me. Well, technically, it wasn’t me rubbing shoulders. It was my book at Amazon.com.

On computer screens around the world, there is Cooper’s new release. He sits with his mother on the cover of their memoir that explores enduring love between a son and his mom. Ironically, next to this there’s my book that shows a family tree with a bird flying away.  My my new self-help release tells of mother and son estrangement.

Starting the week before Mother’s Day, both my book to help rejected parents move forward after a broken bond, and Anderson Cooper’s memoir of parent-child connection with his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, have been featured as Amazon’s “hot new releases” in the parent & adult child category. A version of his book is still at number one. My paperback has fluctuated from #2 to 20. Often, regardless of its numbered place, it has been featured in the right-hand column, snuggled up next to his.

Has Anderson Cooper seen my book with its heartfelt reviews beside his with its more than 700 glowing comments? Despite the 600+ quantity difference, our reviews’ star level is about the same—but I digress.

As a writer with the touchy subject of parent-adult child estrangement that’s still a bit taboo, I’ve imagined my pretty book cover catching Cooper’s eye. He’d tilt his gray head inquisitively. What’s this? He’d click my book, and then he’d realize our shared “hot new release” and “mother-son” subject matter don’t make our books alike. He might be curious. Is it true there’s a trend of adult children who walk away from loving families?

People are often surprised to learn that approximately 25,000 parents come to my website to give and receive support each month. He might be astonished that more than 9,000 parents of estranged adults answered my survey for the book, Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children. And then he’d be hooked. He would go to the phone. He would call me for his show.

Each time I get to this part of my fantasy, I stop. He isn’t likely to call.

If Anderson Cooper does click over to my book, I imagine he’ll be struck by the contrast. Although he’d find similarities too. Both include tough social situations and pain as well as deep-felt love, but their overarching themes couldn’t be any more different. His memoir is based on strengthening the parent-child bond. My book is the bond’s unraveling.

Like many people do, he might start to speculate about the thousands of parents who, because they fear what’s often automatic judgment, keep private their personal despair. Instead of rubbing shoulders in social situations, those parents often hide away in shame. I know, because as the parent of an estranged adult child, I was once felt embarrassed, too.

help for mothers of estranged adult childrenAs our books sat together, juxtaposed, Anderson Cooper likely wasn’t the only person who clicked on my cover, intrigued. By shelving my book for parents of estranged adult children next to a “hot new release” of such gargantuan popularity, Amazon shed light on parent-adult child estrangement, a shameful social issue that’s growing, and that one reviewer of my book said must “come out.” This serendipitous meeting brings awareness, and perhaps leads suffering parents to the restorative messages in my book. They can be done with the crying. There is help and healing ahead.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

estranged mothers mother's dayTo all the hurting moms of estranged adult children – – celebrate yourselves. Mother’s day is set aside to honor all the amazing women who give and care and laugh and love and bring so much joy.

To so many of you mothers of estranged adults who have written to me about your experiences, commented in the forum, left replies to my posts at the site, or emailed to say thanks for the articles here . . . it’s my turn to thank YOU. For your encouragement, your sharing, and for all the love you give.

To mothers of estranged adults everywhere – –  you are beautiful. You are worthy. You are valuable.

Laugh, love, be with others, or isolate yourself. Do whatever YOU need to do to have a good Mother’s Day. Here are 6 ideas.

And here is a beautiful photo and music montage fitting for mothers of estranged adults on Mother’s Day.

 

And here’s my new book to help:
help for mothers of estranged adult children

 

Related articles:

Father’s Day when your adult child is estranged

Parents of estranged adult children: A broken heart?

parents of estranged adults broken heartby Sheri McGregor

At one point, when the loss of my son felt utterly final, the air rushed from my lungs. My vision narrowed. I couldn’t breathe. My chest was tight, my throat so dry it closed in on itself. My heart clenched into a fist of pain.

I believed I would die.

Years have passed since that fall afternoon, and I’m still here—alive and thriving.

If you’re like me, and many other parents of estranged adults who have experienced moments where they felt as if they couldn’t breathe, and suffered chest pain, you understand what it feels like to have a broken heart. The emotional upheaval can affect us physically.

I hear from parents often who describe themselves as heartbroken.

There really is such a thing as a broken heart.

“Broken heart syndrome,” or “stress cardiomyopathy,” occurs more often in women than men. It’s believed to happen because of stress hormones from a sudden shock, loss, or acute anger. Those feelings are common to parents of estranged adult children. The temporary condition disrupts normal heart functioning. Most people recover well, and don’t suffer the condition again, but it’s wise to seek medical care for any symptoms that could be indicative of heart trouble.

Listed below are a few articles to read more thoroughly about broken heart syndrome.

Frequently Asked Questions About Broken Heart Syndrome

Broken Heart Syndrome

Can You Die Of A Broken Heart