Peace: Achievable in the chaos of estrangement?

chaos of estrangement

December 2021 sunset in Northern California

Peace: It’s achievable

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

Peace on Earth . This time of year, it’s written on greeting cards and painted on shop windows. Elvis even croons it over the airwaves. The goal is beautiful, and for many, holds a deep spiritual message. While global peace may seem elusive–as it does in the chaos of estrangement–we can achieve peaceful moments, a peaceful attitude, and even inner peace.

Achieving peace in the chaos of estrangement

Peace within ourselves is a good goal, and one that first requires awareness. In Done With The Crying, I point to being aware of your thinking in order to recognize how often your thoughts tread into mucky waters, and then to shift to a better thought. It’s a form of mindfulness and gets at a way to detach. In the chaos of estrangement and its effects, some people even use the word “detach” as a dictate to remind themselves to let go. The idea of detaching, which is based on the Buddhist beliefs about a person’s relationship with their thoughts and emotions, makes much sense. Still, for me, the word has taken some warming up to. To “detach” brought up imagery that didn’t feel good. Let me explain. . . .

Likely influenced by society’s enthusiasm around the space program, which was so prominent a focus in my early childhood, I imagined “detaching” like a cast-off spaceship part that was left to aimlessly float. However, my research reveals that the part that detaches is the main capsule, which holds the astronauts. After separating, the capsule then moves swiftly toward completing its mission. No wonder so many people use the word and find it helpful. That’s a much better image!

Even so, my mind wanders to the part that’s discarded. Therefore, I prefer different reminder words such as “stop,” “let it go,” or “let it be.” Or, I might think something like, “not mine to decide” or even “stay in your own lane.” The point is less about the words than it is about an effective message. So, choose whatever works for you, and then use the word or phrase to move yourself toward more peaceful thoughts.

Calming moments

The effects of stress can pile on and be cumulative. That’s why it’s important to build resilience with peace and joy. Every day, even within a full schedule that includes some chaos of estrangement and its resulting emotional distress, we can build in moments of peace. Some of us are naturally better at this than others, but we can all learn the beneficial practice of becoming aware of our circumstances and our response to them. Then we can  consciously shift to better responses, for our own benefit.

Life offers each of us numerous “barbells” to lift. These can strengthen and empower us but we still need peace. So, it’s a good thing we all have the ability to pause and reflect, notice and appreciate, detach and focus. I suggest strengthening this self-care muscle.

A few ideas:

  • Notice birds fluttering in a pool of water and ponder the simple elegance of their lives—or just enjoy them.
  • Really look at the people you encounter (cashier, postal worker, fellow person in line) and sincerely connect in some way.
  • Take a real break where you put down the phone or worries and use the time to relax and be present in the moment.
  • Look at the sky, let your eyes outline the clouds, notice subtle differences in coloration, or see sunlight peeking through.
  • Listen to the variety of sounds around you. Then settle on one that brings you peace (a neighbor playing music, the breeze rustling through tree leaves, a child’s laughter. . . .)
  • Whisper or think of a saying that helps, such as “This too shall pass.” Take a few counted breaths and be thankful for any blessing.

A more global peace

When you’re ready, my latest book, BEYOND Done With The Crying, takes the concept of awareness to another level. The ensuing chaos of continued estrangement requires looking at “big picture” concepts, estrangement’s possible causes and its more global effects in your outlook, in your family, and your overall life. And then your awareness of how you reflect upon and deal with those going forward.

Peace: Right here, right now

Despite all that’s happened or is still happening, how do you find peace in the moment? Leave a comment so you can help those who may be struggling.

Related reading

Does healing from estrangement mean you’re cold-hearted


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51 thoughts on “Peace: Achievable in the chaos of estrangement?

  1. Beth

    Clare, reading your story exactly mirrors my own. After 20 years our daughter in law has announced that she is “done” with my husband and me and now our son, her husband, has followed suit and cut us out. My husband and I have spent these 20 years pussyfooting around her, almost scared to speak because she would take offence so easily. There are two children whom we have been kept at arm’s length from their entire lives. We were never invited to their birthday parties. We have never spent a single Christmas with them in 20 years. Now the daughter in law has succeeded in separating our son from us, something we thought would never happen. But I began to see that nothing we did or said made any difference, we were always the bad guys. Now we won’t play her games anymore, we won’t let ourselves be disrespected and abused simply for existing. We are “done” with her too. And if our son’s choice is to stand by and silently participate in this then we are done with him too.

    1. Geraldine

      Dear Beth and Clare, both your stories resonates with me. My husband and I have 3 adult children. I would like to believe that we were the perfect parents and tried to raise perfect children. The situation with my eldest son and his wife is too painful to pen. No matter how good we are to my daughter-in-law its never good enough. For my son sake we look the other way and try to keep the peace. They are now married 10 years and live in another city 8 hours away. The phone calls from my son are less frequent. At the end of the phone call both my husband and I are left with a sad empty feeling. We do not ask for anything but love and respect. How does a parent let go of a child? Thankfully we are blessed with a wonderful son in law and another daughter in law who is an angel. But the ache for the one that is not there remains.

  2. Lisa

    This is a very timely article. After a year of silence from my estranged daughter, I received a horrible email from her a few days before Christmas. The hard-won peace I had achieved was shattered. And I’ve spent the last few weeks building it back. And I’ve figured out that the price of that peace if preventing future contact (blocking email/phone/etc.). I refuse to fight or let another adult undermine my peace and mental health.

    But I think my mantra will now be ‘peace has a price’.

  3. Jane Ann

    Thanks to you all for your beautiful sentiments, and especially to Sheri.
    I, too, love watching birds, the sky, clouds, and hugging trees… Being in Nature and going still is especially healing for me. Even saying simple prayers for the healing of our Earth helps me quiet within and feel my true sense of Self — that I AM a good and kind person, compassionate and forgiving, trying to do the very best that I can.
    One of the exercises I did in a meditation group was to create within your heart and mind your “True Nurturer.” Mine was a large old gnarled tree, with soft moss to sit on, the tree’s arms cradling me as birds sang above in the high leafy branches. You can create whatever place you love in your mind, and color it with all the sights and senses of touch, taste, hearing, smells, sights, etc. You can close your eyes and go there anytime you need to breathe. It really works to calm!
    I wish all of you in this “tribe” the comfort and healing of the New Year. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could somehow all get together for a cup of coffee or tea on a huge porch on a beautiful day?
    Guess we can imagine doing that here in this healing place, this healing forum – thanks to Sheri.
    Stay well!

  4. AnnMarie M.

    Right here, right now. I love those words. And never a more poignant song than “Turn, Turn, Turn”. Over the last 2 years, I’ve learned the value of coming to realize both of those and it saved my sanity and my life. I learned to be still, observe, and for once in my life, be quiet. There was never a more devastating time in my life than when my daughter walked away and refused to acknowledge my existence. I’ve changed what I do with my free time. I’m a back yard bird watcher with all the feeders & binoculars to prove it! I have a daily routine of exercise, eating healthier, and getting out of the house.! Best things I’ve ever done to focus on me. My new “season”. I turn, turn, turned! I will look forward to seasons changing. Its so true that to redirect those energies of sadness and thinking about how to change someone else’s mind, can be so liberating and good for the self confidence. My whole attitude and approach changed after reading and really working the follow up with “Done with the Crying”. I still cry, but its a need to cleanse once in a while. Then move on to the others that I enjoy and who enjoy me. The holidays are not the hell they were before when we had the turmoil with her, and the immense sadness without her.
    I appreciate being able to read others stories and about the journey of healing of estrangement because I see that I’m not the enigma I thought I was and that I do have a “tribe” that I’m part of. Thanks for letting me share and for sharing with me. I couldn’t have made it without you.

    1. rparents Post author

      Thank you for this wonderfully visual note. We’ll be watching birds together even apart!
      So glad you are embracing the new season and finding ways to enjoy life (glad I could help too!).

      Big hugs to you and best wishes for a beautiful New Year!
      Sheri McGregor

  5. Ilene A.

    Sheri’s words of wisdom are my lifeline to a life, where I am thriving and not just surviving. After reading many of the replies, I realize I am not alone. I am so sorry all of us are having to deal with estrangement. Both of my children are estranged. My daughter reconnected only for the period of time she needed surgery and needed me to take care of her. My son is married and has two children. I have not seen the grandchildren for 6 years. One is 11 and the other is 7. Due to emotional, verbal, and physical abuse I divorced my husband after 44 years of marriage. As the abuse kept getting worse, a dear friend gave me the advice to divorce. Another friend went with me to the divorce attorney. I have been divorced for 6 years and have had the happiest times in my life. Yes, having estranged adult children is tortuous, only if I let them have that much power. It’s so hard, when friends talk about and show pictures of their darling grandchildren. Sheri’s advice to take care of myself has been extremely beneficial. When I redid my will to leave nothing to my children or grandchildren, I felt free and was on Cloud Nine. Why should I leave anything to my grandchildren, when they don’t even know me? How blessed I am to have a plethora of very near and dear friends. When I had emergency surgery, my friends were right there with me during the surgery and the recovery. When I moved, I had 14 friends pack my belongings from my house, and another 13 friends unpacked my in my apartment. These friends unpacked every single box. That is true friendship. Yes, loneliness during COVID does occur. However, I try to fill each and every day with a purpose. Volunteering, even facilitating weekly knitting groups and a weekly Happy Hour on Zoom, has been rewarding. Continuing my Mah Jong games online with my two established games has helped to fill some days. Online classes and virtual tours around the world have also filled my days. Bottom line…I am still devastated by having estranged children; however, I have taken Sheri’s advice and tried to fill my days with positive memorable moments. I can’t make my children love me, even though I birthed them. I tried my best to be a good role model for them in life.
    Thank you Sheri for guiding me to a life that is fulfilling.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Ilene,
      Thank you for these kind words. I might have given you a nudge, but you are the one RUNNING with it. I am so overjoyed to hear that you are living well and to the fullest.
      HUGS and more hugs! Happy New Year!
      Sheri McGregor

    2. Anne m

      Hello Ilene,
      Your story could be mine and I have come to the same conclusions sadly. In spite of my children choosing to be estranged from I am thriving and not just surviving and pretending to be happy. I feel strong and resilient and excited about the future. Sheri’s books saved me inso many different ways. I too choose an activity’ each day that brings me joy and happiness amd I do not cry any more

    3. Anne m.

      Hello Ilene,
      Your story could be mine and I have come to the same conclusions sadly. In spite of my children choosing to be estranged from I am thriving and not just surviving and pretending to be happy. I feel strong and resilient and excited about the future. Sheri’s books saved me inso many different ways. I too choose an activity’ each day that brings me joy and happiness amd I do not cry any more

  6. Jules

    Well this Christmas we popped some gifts to my daughter’s house- left them on the doorstep & 20 minutes later they were on my doorstep with a vile note saying that my grandchildren will never want to know us. Presumably she’s going to try and badmouthing us so much that they’ll not want to meet us when they’re older.

    But you know to answer the question you posted above Sheri, there’s nothing is there that we can do about what others think & do. The most crucial thing I have learned is to be true to yourself & NOT second guess what will or won’t happen.
    Above all, this holiday I’ve been trying to just focus on the people who are here for me, who want to spend Christmas & time with me. There’s nothing worse than chasing your tail about something or someone that isn’t willing or ready to have meaningful contact. It really is torturous.

    1. Gloria D.

      I used to cry on every occasion although I haven’t seen my oldest daughter in 12 years. I miss her, her husband and my grandson. Every occasion or family dinner became a nightmare for me because they weren’t here. Finally, one of my other children pointed out that instead of being happy because, my three other children and their families were always here for me, I was crying over the one who wasn’t here. That day I changed my attitude. I focused on the family that chose to be with me. I didn’t stop missing my estranged daughter but I decided that I would no longer let her absence ruin my enjoyment with the rest of my family.

  7. Tracy

    Very hard day today,I was told not to buy gifts for my 3 grandkids I’m not allowed to see as I wouldn’t get to see them that day or any day.I put on a good act for my 1 remaining grandson I do get to see but I just had no holiday spirit a part of me was missing.My son has been doing this to me for years whenever he gets mad over petty stuff.I have 1 grandson that I don’t even know.I didn’t raise my son to be like this and can no longer accept how he treats me.

  8. Joanne E.

    Everyone’s stories are so helpful, so thank you to each one of you, I am grateful.
    I think I have been estranged from my son for 8 years now, and my daughter for 4 years. My ex and I divorced, and he convinced my son he had to choose. He chose his father because he exerted so much pressure, I’m sure.
    I still have hope – every once in awhile my son will text me. Christmas Day he sent a Merry Christmas and an I Love You mom. Nothing from my daughter, who was 19 when she discarded me. I sent her flowers on her 21st birthday, and her last words to me were, ‘if you ever contact me again, I will get a restraining order.’ I’m sure many of you can relate to that experience – wondering what you did to deserve that.
    Anyways, this Christmas I held myself together until Boxing Day (day after Christmas), at which point I had a good cry.
    The longer I am estranged from them, the less I like the people they have become. I wonder where my DNA is in them. I raised them to be kind, helpful, empathetic, loving children…and I don’t see any of that in the people they are now. As I said before, I still have hope for my son – I leave the door open, even if it’s only open a crack.
    I am trying, learning, to live a full and joyful life. Every time I have even a tiny bit of joy, laughter, happiness, it is a win for me.
    I wish everyone some kind of peace over these holidays.

    1. Ilene A.

      Wow! You story is so much like mine. Hopefully, you are blessed with friends, who love the authentic you. My friends give me the strength to smile.

    2. Nikki

      I am so sorry for your suffering, I just cannot imagine why our children grow to be so cold hearted and hateful. I just cannot imagine walking around as a grown adult and holding that much bitterness in my heart. All I can think is that I NEVER want to be the kind of person that my daughter has turned out to be and I wrote a long letter to my own mom this morning letting her know that I love and appreciate her. I am lucky that my mom is still living and I can let her know this. Someday our kids may turn around -but I wonder if for them, it will be too late. The old cliché “life is short” is true. WHY would they want to spend another day with a hateful heart. In estrangement-there is NO thought for other’s feeling, just their own. It is the epitome of selfishness. I hope you find moments of peace, even if they are small, in your life everyday. God bless you

  9. Cyndi

    Wow sometimes I feel like I’m the only one. It helps to read others comments and realize I’m not. We have 6 adopted children and three biological kids. We’ve been estranged from the oldest adopted daughter who ran away with a drug dealer on and off for 3 years but recently reconciled with her. We are paying for her to go to rehab. Her biological sister (also adopted) has many psych disorders and three months ago we got an IVC (involuntary commital) she lied and said the diagnosis were lies (we just moved so no one at the hospital knows her) now she’s said she’s plotting to kill me. She calls and is so Mean and always causing drama and then will flip and call and say I love you and miss you. It’s absolute torture and I’m trying to find ways to put boundaries in place. She needs to be in a psych hospital and have her phone taken but right now she’s not and her life’s goal is to torture me. Ot makes me regret adoption when we were trying to give two little homeless, hurting girls a place to live, be loved etc it’s been a horrible experience. (In this case) the other kids are wonderful and supportive. But it still hurts when you give so much yo one and they reject you. I have my faith though snd it has been my strength in Christ that has gotten me h through the last 5 years of rejection, hurt and turmoil, It has helped to have 3 other women who support and pray with me on a regular basis. I’ve also found that exercise and long walks on the beach where we live where I can pick up shells and listen to birds really do help.

  10. Cyndi

    Wow sometimes I feel like I’m the only one. It helps to read others comments and realize I’m not. We have 6 adopted children and three biological kids. We’ve been estranged from the oldest adopted daughter who ran away with a drug dealer on and off for 3 years but recently reconciled with her. We are paying for her to go to rehab. Her biological sister (also adopted) has many psych disorders and three months ago we got an IVC (involuntary commital) she lied and said the diagnosis were lies (we just moved so no one at the hospital knows her) now she’s said she’s plotting to kill me. She calls and is so Mean and always causing drama and then will flip and call and say I love you and miss you. It’s absolute torture and I’m trying to find ways to put boundaries in place. She needs to be in a psych hospital and have her phone taken but right now she’s not and her life’s goal is to torture me. Ot makes me regret adoption when we were trying to give two little homeless, hurting girls a place to live, be loved etc it’s been a horrible experience. (In this case) the other kids are wonderful and supportive. But it still hurts when you give so much yo one and they reject you. I have my faith though snd it has been my strength in Christ that has gotten me h through the last 5 years of rejection, hurt and turmoil,

  11. Dianne

    Finding Peace… hmmm I think “Peace” found me through my faith. Letting go and letting God have this situation and believe God has a bigger plan for me or our son. I can’t say that that calm and peaceful feeling is with me 100% but it’s much better than it was after all I’m human and we are to feel other feelings. I honor those and be kind to myself when it gets tough. Sometimes it just takes me a good night’s sleep to feel renew for a brand new day. It’s been 4 Christmases this didn’t happen right away. But it is a beautiful feeling to have that peace and joy back.

    1. Joy K.

      Hi Diane! I’m much like you. I’ve turned to my faith for support and courage and I’ve got a new mantra “Give it to God”, which is exactly what my husband and I did when our daughter rejected us in 2019. I’ve read “Done with the Crying” and did the exercises which helped immensely. In July, I saw a therapist who really helped me understand the situation. I’d always felt that I would take whatever my daughter dished out; after all, she’s my daughter! I now understand that because she’s my daughter, she ought to be the last person to treat me like this. Time moved on and just before Christmas she sent us an email saying she can’t believe we haven’t contacted her, she has no money and can’t afford a phone, etc. I’m still debating whether I’m going to reply. My husband won’t, for sure, and if I do reply, it will be to tell her my door is always open to her, providing she treats us with the dignity and respect we deserve as her parents. I don’t expect her to show up or reply and I’m ok with that. Life goes on and we spend it with people who love us. Like you said, it’s a beautiful feeling to have peace and joy back. Hugs to you.

  12. Dee

    Oh my! This was so helpful. Thank you so much. I was looking back on pictures today and Christmas 2015, one important one popped up. The daughter who had been so dismissive, minimizing and totally disrespectful to me was in the picture. She was sitting with her sister and was just kind of glaring at me as I took the picture. I then posted on Facebook saying so nice to have everybody home but my heart was just so sad. I had had surgery the week before on December 18 for a bowel prolapse and I was recuperating but I had still made supper and had prepared a busy Christmas. I was just laying down on the sofa resting after supper. She proceeded to open the bottle of Malbec that someone had given me for a gift and without asking drank half of it. She and her sister went off in the room by themselves and started gossiping about me I am sure. They stayed there for hours. I placated the whole situation but five years later I understand it so much better because of your book and support, Sheri. She has come around because I am the sole babysitter for her child while she goes to work and her husband works out of town and is only home for two days every two weeks. But I feel sad about to. She has tried to be really loving towards me again but I know it’s because I take such good care of her son. I don’t trust her and sadly I don’t really like her. I see there are so many people who have experienced the same thing. I wish I could get back to the way we were but I am so guarded.

  13. Linda

    It’s been12 years since I last had contact with my 2 estranged sons. The oldest has married and divorced twice and has 5 children. The younger is still single. I have had wonderful support from my family and my church family. Even though my relationship with my daughter was strained as a result of the kids’ father’s and my divorce, we are doing better all the time. She and her husband have a 4 year old girl and they have been a lifeline. Being able to have contact with them has given me an outlet for my love. I am grateful every day for that blessing. I have finally reached the point where I have moved on with my life. I still love my sons and would be excited to work things out with them, but I swill not beg them or get in touch with them. If/when they want to restore our relationship, they know how to find me. I pray you’ve all had a blessed Christmas!

  14. Michelle M.

    I decided that since my children are estranged, I would not sit by myself and invited my single friends who would have sat alone otherwise. I made a big dinner and we watched movies, until the wee hours of the morning. Coffee on the patio as our weather was outstanding. My friends had so much fun that we continued until Sunday. I knew my daughter would not notify me of not coming for the first time in 21 years based on Mother’s day and my birthday. I paid her outstanding college fees and will call it quits funding her lifestyle ie. college, rent, phone bill going forward. She has a year and a half left and alternate with ex on her expenses. I had already taken her sister off my estate planning but will now look for charities and organizations that speak to my heart. I have chosen not to argue, defend, or justify anything with her due to blame shifting and accusations. I have deemed her an unsafe person in my life. Time to take back my life and live it full. Merry Christmas and be strong.

  15. AnotherPointofView

    I thought l would compare the peace l have this Christmas Day with the degree of peace in previous years. A guide to my progress on acceptance and healing.
    2021 Christmas Day. I have the most acceptance and peace that l have ever had . Yet no sms , card or phone call from either of my EC adult children.
    It has taken me decades to get to a point where l can say. I once had a family but now they have moved on.
    Just like a divorce after a one way marriage you hurt . But sooner or later you move on.
    I am sorry to say that many of you like me will not move on for decades .
    but now l am here.
    I have Put them behind me .
    The peace this Christmas without grieving for loss of functional family is a real Christmas present.
    I don’t think you can force this peace.?

    1. Betsy s

      Good for you!

      I too have reached a place of peace with my middle child who has been estranged for over 3 years now. I too removed him from my will. With my other two children I am still willing to fight for a relationship, but I will do it from a position of strength–not begging for forgiveness or begging for a relationship. Will put myself out there but with limited expectations for a return of affection and see how it goes.

      I agree that reaching this state of peace cannot be forced. It takes time to realize the ball is in their court –not necessarily yours and accept that. It takes time to grieve that you might not have the loving relationship you cultivated when they were kids or the loving relationship you had with your parents. And once you do these things and then open yourself up to all the other living there is to do and move on you feel better.

  16. Lauren

    Merry Christmas, everyone. This site has been a lifesaver to me. My only son estranged himself from me 12 yrs ago when his dad and I got divorced. I still don’t know why and never will, probably. I had a hard time today, even though I go through this every holiday. I had plenty of other family to see, and will still see during the coming week. I am so blessed in all my relationships, except w my son. He mentally abused me these last 12 years, but he also did so to his sisters. (His dads side of the family lacks boundaries, his dad is a liar, thief and weasel) He is just like his dad, sorry to say—in his abusive treatment toward women. .he was so kind until age 14/15… I still love my son and miss him. I feel like the real person is still in there somewhere that I knew once upon a time…am I disillusioned? When do I give up?

    1. Mary


      I read these replies all the time and never posted one. When you say your son was so sweet and then around age 15 that was the pivoting point, it resignated with me. Mine too….actually all 3 of my kids ghost me for the past few years. Their dad made them choose sides when I finally got into a wonderful relationship with someone and moved in with him. We have been divorced for almost 20 years now but he still had that hold on me. The only thing left were our children….now he has them too. The ultimate revenge. You and I can only hope and pray that our sweet boys will someday come back around. I still send cards (he’s got me blocked from the phone). It seems to be better on me if I don’t try so hard….. because I’m only let down because I always think “this might be the day he answers me”…..and then I’m so sad. I try not to be around “happy families” too much because that also makes me sad…..even grocery shopping and not buying the foods they use to like. My fiance keeps me busy and we do trips and spend alot of time together. I’m going to try yoga in 2022….. anything to keep a clear mind. My heart goes out to you and all the parents on this sight. Sad to say, but there is comfort here because being estranged from your kids is soooo lonely as you sadly know all too well. God bless you Lauren and I hope 2022 is a breakthrough year for you.

    2. Betsy S.

      Lauren– I had a similar experience with my son. Very sweet, caring little boy, very loving but around age 15/16 the anger crept in. Now at 33 he has anger management issues. His Dad had anger management issues and so one wonders is he like this because of genetics or as a learned behavior. Nurthure vs. Nature the old debate.

  17. Jennifer

    As I read everyones comments… tears flood my face. And I say out loud,”I am so so sorry blank” to whoever the writer is, with all of my heart. I feel the pain deeply of every persons story. This is one of the single most hardest,painful experiences I have ever gone through. Almost each and every story shared, I can relate in some way to them all. I am not thankful that all of us have had to go through this kind of pain in our lives, but I am thankful for each and every one of you sharing with everyone…because it helps me not feel so horribly alone in my pain. I can only hope my sharing does the same for someone else too. And what stands out to me the most this Christmas, in receiving this email, is I am so thankful for you Sheri! And for all you have done to help so many. You made all of this possible for all of us. So from the bottom of my heart thank you so very very much!! Sending you so much love and peace in this Season. Today is Christmas day and I miss my daughter desperately. It’s been 2 years now that she has blocked me out of her life. But because of all of you and Sheri, I am able to think in a different way sometimes now. I keep my focus centred on other people and other things all around me, to be thankful for. It has helped me when I feel like my pain is going to pull me down into a dark pit of isolated torture to myself. There is peace, and hope and love and joy and thankfulness all around us. Sometimes I have to fight to find it. But when I really try searching, I find glimmers here and there, and I find myself smiling(which I used to feel guilty for doing). I also try not to focus so hard on the future and hoping so hard. I focus on the NOW. My TODAY. What can I be thankful for today even while in my pain? Sending so so so much love to each and every one of you.

    1. Deb

      So beautifully and thoughtful written, Jennifer! Merry Christmas to you! I haven’t written my story on this forum yet.. I will soon. I take so much strength from everyone’s courage and fortitude.. it helps so much

    2. Debbie M

      I’m sorry for your pain, Jennifer, and for the pain each person on this site is going through. I’m so encouraged by your kind, beautiful, words and yes, so thankful for Sheri. This is my first time to share on this platform. My husband and I have 3 sons, a daughter, and a daughter-in-law. We have been estranged from our daughter (28) for 4 months now. So thankful we got through Thanksgiving and Christmas ok. So thankful she still communicates with her brothers. As we approach New Years it seems more daunting. We now know her heart has not softened any towards us as she chose to not acknowledge mine and my husband’s attempts to reach out yesterday. She did respond quickly to my sons’ texts. Thankful for that. But just wonder now how many days and holidays we will have without her. So thankful God is getting through each day. Thankful for the hope of Romans 8:28. Much love and prayers for all who are on this journey, too.

  18. Steph W

    I have not been on here for a while.
    I am going on 6-7 years of this estrangement from my ED. I have learned to accept it and decided life has to move on. Yes, I programmed my mind to think of it like a death. You love the person who passed, but they can no longer be there with you. This means, life goes on.
    For my ED, I heard she is on baby #3 and I find out through Christmas cards to certain family members.
    We never got to know grandchild #2, so not a big shock on #3.
    Even though my ED likes to poke/peak in on us once in a while and this usually means she wants to stir the pot, or see if we will conform to her demands, which means bow down to her, I will not conform to a childs needs, even when its an adult child. For this, the 2nd time (which was about 5mos. ago, had to tell her leave me, her brother and the family alone, so I blocked her on all outlets again. I do follow it with, I will forgive when and if, so you know where we live, if you ever wake up.
    It’s not that I don’t have a heart for her, it’s I got tired of the abuse. Even though it is mental abuse, I will not go for it, specially at my age of under 50. If she is like this now, could you imagine how her and her piece of garbage husband would be towards us at 70? I won’t take that chance, so I set her free. Free from me, free from her wrath and after this time of healing, I FINELY LET GO TO A POINT!
    God Bless you all and Merry Christmas

  19. Catharine

    Thank you for your thoughts on estrangement. I had wrapped up much of my self worth and happiness with my role as a mother, the love and approval of my daughters and estrangement has left me floundering and unable to trust my sense of self. In my seventies and learning this lesson is as crucial as learning to self love and care at any age. I feel fortunate to see my role in my happiness. True, my life would be richer with family sharing and support, but it’s not to be. Your words ring true in the eventual renewed relationship, which will be different. Of course, the trauma of a child removing themselves from a mother is emotional surgery. We can learn to live fully, to love others and ourselves deeply regardless of and maybe because of this difficult and painful reality. Thanks again.

    1. Betsy S

      “emotional surgery” — a perfect term for what it feels like.

      Sheri –thank you, thank you thank you for setting up this website and maintaining it.

      To all of you– I’m so sorry for your losses, but thank you for sharing. Warm hugs and the gift of the peace of understanding to all of you.

  20. Barbara G.

    Wishing all of you peace this Christmas, despite our estrangement from AC . Yes I had little moments of sadness but I have learned to acknowledge and then gently let them pass …….. grateful to Sheri and this beautiful community !!
    What a blessing !!
    True inner peace is not depended on external circumstances no matter how painful they may be …..
    I keep that in my heart and mind ❤️

  21. Donna D.

    The way I cope with my thoughts toward my daughter estrangement and not seeing my granddaughter anymore is I force myself to have grateful thoughts. Grateful for my husband brothers and sisters friends mom and dad. So many in an estrangement don’t even have that. Also having a relationship with Jesus and trusting He has the situation in His hands

  22. Lynne W.

    It’s been a little over 5 years since my 2 daughters abandoned me, mainly because I was in an abusive relationship and, at the time, I couldn’t see a way out. They saw me as weak and stupid and turned their backs on me, taking my 4 grandchildren with them.

    After a serious physical attack, I was matched up with a wonderful domestic abuse counselor who also worked me through the estrangements. Happily, I was able to leave the abusive relationship and be free and on my own again.

    One of my daughters reached out to me after that and although I don’t believe I’ll ever trust her enough for us to be close again, her teenage sons have enthusiastically reunited with me. I helped raise them until they are preteens while my daughter got her bachelors and masters degrees. Today will be the first Christmas we’ll spend together in 5 years and I am over the moon about that.

    I’ve learned to detach from my younger daughter, and more difficult, her 2 young children that I have been prevented from seeing or contacting in any way. I like to think that I may meet them someday and enjoy a relationship of some kind.

    Bottom line, there is peace out there and it is entirely within your grasp.

    1. Betsy S

      What a shame that your two daughters abandoned you when you needed them most! But what a blessing that you’ve reunited ( allbeit cautiously with your heart) with one. I think you bring all of us hope that things can change for the better. So we ride the fence emotionally–keeping our hearts open to a reunification while doing our best to enjoy other relationships and pleasures.

  23. Carrie-Ann

    In Gratitude, Peace, Joy, Love, & Compassion for Beautiful Sheri & Each One Of You Dear Ones In This Sacred On-Line Community,

    I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

  24. Marjorie W.

    Today is my son’s 44th birthday. He was born just about this time of day. Despite my spiritual faith, which I try to separate from the secular celebrations, this day still sits resoundingly heavy on my heart.
    My eldest brother was killed at 21 in an Easter weekend car accident; he was my mom and dad’s firstborn. I remember mom stealing away for an hour or two every Easter holiday…to “rest.” I now know she was grieving, and I am glad she didn’t live to see her grandson break my heart. It would have broken what was left of her heart as well.

  25. Pam

    Thank you to all who are writing here from your hearts. It is helping me so much to read your words. Everyone of you has said something identical to what I am going thru and feeling. This is my first Christmas without my only daughter. She has not unfriended me on FB and I am torturing myself looking at the photos of my 2 granddaughters on Christmas Eve. Last nite was brutal. My daughters entire family has Covid, so no one is going anywhere anyway, but she made a point to express her joy and love to her mother-in-law, who I know is relishing in the attention.
    I just returned from the bedside of my best friend of 40 years who passed in hospice of an aggressive cancer. I sent my daughter a short, to the point email to let her know my friend, and hers, was dying quickly. My daughter wrote a text to the son of my firend expressing her codolescences. Nothing to me, not evern “thank you” or I am sorry, mom. My freind took her last breath with me by her side. This is a sad Christmas for me. My daughter did not send a card for my 65th birthday, nothing for Thanksgiving, and now Christmas. She invited me to my granddaughters 1st birthday in September, then called me up after saying what fun we had, and telling me she was removing me from her life. She is in therapy and on medication, and two therapists have described my daughter to me as bi-polar. This is all very new to me and I am trying to make the best of it. I have a strong faith and believe God has a plan for me, I just don’t know how to get started with my own life at this age. I moved here to be near these grandchildren and my daughter. How did her dead beat dad come out smelling like a rose.
    Thank you so much Sheri for this forum to express my feelings and to hear those of others who are as confused as I am.

    1. Leslie

      The reason her deadbeat dad is in her life: toxic people attract toxic people. I see it over and over. My DIL and son keeping only my MIL in their life and excluding my family (all of them) is because MIL has always liked “broken toys” people.

  26. Lynne G.

    Thank you Sheri for these helpful thoughts. For me this Christmas has been the best one since the estrangement. I think about the holidays in that they are just a day. A 24 hour day goes by so fast. I think of the peace in my home and that I am blessed with peace I did not know until these later years in my life l. I did not do all the Christmasy things this year and it felt very good. I made the joke…well I put a wreath on the door!!! As I sit here this morning I want to sincerely thank you Sheri. Merry Christmas and praying that you and all of us who have estrangement have joy and peace in the new year.

  27. Gracie2021

    Good morning and Merry Christmas!
    My 3 furry children bring me great joy and peace. Simple pleasures are a big deal to my dogs, and it is pure joy to watch. I bought them special treats for this morning. They are thoroughly enjoying, which makes me enjoy them.

  28. Stephanie W.

    Hi Sheri,
    First can I say thank you for this Chrustmsd advent calendar, this is what it feels like to me.To know you care about what we are collectively going through means so much.
    I would describe my situation as semi estranged now I can’t fathom whether that is worse than being fully estranged or what but the situation still goes on as it’s been for years.
    I see 3 out of my 4 grandchildren as things are equally difficult with my granddaughter.
    I have two sons in their thirties and when I see them it is usually to do with seeing my grandchildren so never one to one time with my sons.
    So Christmas comes around and on Christmas Day they all go to my ex husband’s which does not sut well with me but it is out of my control I know.
    I have asked if my eldest son is free to meet during the holidays and this is the bit I can’t stand because I feel like I am begging. I have stopped asking to see my granddaughter she is 13 and old enough to decide for herself.
    What helps me?
    Trying not to dwell accepting the unacceptable, detach in love and the two that helps me the most are do it my way and to stay in my own lane.
    I will not demean myself anymore by chasing and begging for love because that starts with me.
    Best wishes

    1. JanPhyllis

      No more begging! If we can’t be loved and respected by our children which mine had EVERYTHING then find peace somehow. I am struggling with somehow????????
      My estranged son of 21 years returned to us. I had 3 days of my full family together. NOW my other son has estranged me, BUT NOT his FATHER! They continue as before happy, texting.
      My husband has done nothing but betray me. I think he enjoys his importance with my son?
      I am tired, lost, alone, in this estrangement and handicapped! But I WILL NOT BEG! Not again, I’ve done enough and it gets me no where!
      Please begging only gratifies the pain they have inflicted on you, gives them a feeling of power over you!
      New year how about a new us?
      Love and good wishes to all who have or are suffering this terrible experience!

  29. Toni

    Although I reconnected with my son, it is not the same and I think it might never be the same. We bring ourselves to all relationships and a damaged relationship that doesn’t get dealt with moves along the same path. We parents are still the same people and so are the adult children. Do not expect the happiness you dream of if you reconnect. If I am honest; it is probably me that is not very happy and no other person can fix that for me. So , look forward to a reconciliation and what it might be but do not endow it with magical powers to fix your life. It will not. Forewarned is forearmed , as they say

    1. Clare

      Toni, we reconciled with our estranged son, and only child, last year as he and his fiancee were having a baby. She is now his wife and led this estrangement, she wants our son to herself and her family only. We were cautious and found it really hard. Our son was happy to have us back in his life and she was obviously on a high after having our grandson. Come their wedding in November and my husband and I felt publicly humiliated. We felt so left out. We didn’t get to spend time with our grandson for his first Christmas. We now realise it was all for show so they didn’t have to answer questions about where we were.
      Reconciliation is definitely not what I thought it would be. I feel like we are walking on eggshells and that she is just waiting to find an excuse for us not be a part of their lives. I believe we are on the verge of another estrangement because of her behaviour. It will be hard not seeing our grandson but our mental health is more important. I am actually okay about it which is not something I ever thought I would say!


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