Looking for the good

parents of estranged adult children

Ocotillo and more at Anza Borrego Desert State Park

What are you attuned to? Looking for the good

By Sheri McGregor

With the Canadian Thanksgiving arriving in just a few days, and other holidays lining up before us, I’ve been taking charge and looking forward with a sense of joy and excitement. That’s so much better than the dread that can so swiftly sweep in as the daylight hours shorten and the longer nights usher in the season. When we’re expecting things to be crummy, we’re sure to find evidence we’re right. I’m dropping that attitude to make sure I’m ready for good instead. Won’t you read on and join me?


In the arid California desert where I’ve hiked hundreds of miles, the plants adapt to the arid climate. That’s how they thrive. Drought tolerant bushes cup their fuzzy leaves, ready to catch and hold the slightest morning dew. Others, such as spidery ocotillo, spread shallow roots that easily soak up scant rain, and then quickly sprout leaves. These gorgeous, otherworldly plants then bloom in the driest periods, providing lipstick red color to the barren hills.

As we move into the holiday season, don’t focus on lack and look ahead with dread. Take a lesson from nature. Adapt. Be flexible. Dress in colorful clothes to brighten the coldest winter days. You’ll be a spot of cheer for yourself as well as others. Putting on a funny, warm hat can bring a smile. Wear fuzzy flannel and open your heart to the possibility of any joy. Then capture even the scantest moments of social rainfall to later savor.

Your assignment: Cultivate this positive habit

Starting now, set aside a few minutes every day to contemplate looking for anything positive or joyful in the world around you. Do this in the morning so you’ll be setting the tone for your day ahead. You’ll find “good” in the music of birdsong, the way the wind rustles through trees, or how a neighbor waves each day.

Attune yourself so that you’ll listen and really hear. See and really notice. Take a mental (or written) note, snap a photograph, or mention the good to a companion. That way, you’ll commit the positive bits of life to memory. Instead of habituating negativity and dread, train your brain to look for the good.

You can also find good in yourself. Did you remain calm in a stressful situation? Let someone ahead in traffic? Maybe you lovingly care for a partner or help a friend (even your oldest friend: you!)

Finding miracles?

One parent who reads here commented that her pastor suggested she look for miracles every day, in nature and in the world around her. His advice was intended to build her faith that miracles are possible, even in families broken by estrangement. What a gift, because even independent of that hoped-for result, she’s looking for miracles in her everyday life. She’s attuned to look for and find the good.

Your turn

Where else might you find “good”? I’d love to hear how you accomplish this assignment, so be sure and leave a comment. Let’s cheer each other on, serving as holiday lights for ourselves, other parents, and the people we meet.

Related reading

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121 thoughts on “Looking for the good

  1. Mary

    It’s been 6 years since “that letter” came to us from our son. He really does hate us and our religion. He has removed our only grandchildren from our lives with threats to his now ex wife about any having any contact with us. They live in Florida, we are in Minnesota. I have agonized over this over and over again-his claims of us being terrible parents, distant and uncaring are total lies. I am fortunate that I am still teaching piano lessons after 50 plus years. I get great joy from interacting with these kids who seem to enjoy me as well. (Maybe it’s my candy dish and plethora of stickers.) We have been dubbed surrogate grandparents to the 5 kids next door whose real grandparents live far away. I don’t expect to ever see him again or my grandkids (time stood still when they moved away 9 years ago) who are 13 and 10. There is nothing I can do in the natural to change his mind. That will have to be God Who he now rejects as well. My head tells me to move ahead without them. Convincing my heart is a little harder, but in time I know it will come around too. Thank you for this forum and all who share their heartbreaking stories.

  2. Marian M.

    I am a 69 year old married women with 3 children and 5 grandchildren. My oldest child and daughter has always had very little empathy and has bipolar disease. We relocated with them to another state to support our 2 grandkids during covid when our daughter was also very sick with an autoimmune disease in her brain. As her health improved, she fabricated situations to turn our son-in-law against us so she could then dump us. She is also estranged from her siblings over her inability to accept that they don’t believe her reality which is also fabricated. We had to relocate in the area. Fortunately our son and daughter in law and 3 other grandkids are in the area. The daughter totally cut contact with us and will not allow us to see our grandkids. She has told them lies to turn them against us. We had been very close and in fact had watched our granddaughter 20 hours a week when she had grown up. She is now 12. We grieved, cried, got depressed and then realized something critical. God is telling me that things are OK!!!! He has other things for me to do that are important for His kingdom. I could not do those things if I was still on the farm with the 2 grandkids.
    You know, whatever we lose in life, God still blesses us. He expects us to live in His kingdom and do His will, and we will be blessed. I actively forgive my daughter, I pray for her salvation and I look for the things God gives me to do each day even if it is spreading joy to the checkout clerk!
    I am so sorry for the pain in all these blogs but God has got this for you. Keep looking up!

  3. Linda

    Happy Thanksgiving from Canada.
    It’s been 5 years my 2 daughters my granddaughter my family are estranged.
    How I am dealing with this is my memories of my family thru the years.
    Beautiful loving strong memories .
    They fill up my heart and I just bathe in them and let them grow stronger.
    Because that is the truth.
    Of course mistakes were made no one is perfect.
    The TRUTH will set you free. I love my children my family with my life.
    I stood for myself for the very first time 5 years ago and I WAS CANCELED.
    We live in a cancel culture.
    I accept my responsibility that I spoiled them and see today i created a privileged & entitled family.
    I am responsible for not showing them the importance of Human Dignity and Respect . I was too afraid they would leave me, and they did.
    I am using this time to learn transform myself so that when they come back in my life I will not be the same person making the same mistakes living in fear walking on eggs . I will stand for myself in Honour Respect & Dignity.
    We live in a cancel culture , remember this is the world we live in.
    God Bless .

    1. Kristine M.

      Hi Linda,

      I relate. I wrote a long note- but PC deleted it. In short- I wanted to say this. Yes, I too may have, thru Love and desire to instill self esteem and confidence in my children, to my horror, created children who feel very self entitled instead. Certainly they had chores and consequences, yet nontheless – Here I(we) are.

      Or perhaps this Digital/social app age is to blame. But whatever the case-

      We Absolutely deserve to be treated with Love, Respect and Dignity.!! I(most likely WE) were/are good parents.

      What I know after five years is this. I AM, for the majority of the time, Done with the Crying, the Anger, the Rage, the Self-Despondency, Self Doubt AND MOST ESPECIALLY the PREOCCUPATION with my Adult Children.!!!!!!!!

      MY ADULT CHILDREN ARE NOT/AND NEVER HAVE BEEN, THE ARBITER OF MY WORTH OR VALUE AS A PARENT OR A HUMAN BEING!!!! I’m Over it. I hope they grow up- but if not, I have a Life to Live!

      Linda, I stand with you- and I hope you have a Marvelous Holiday Season! I myself am planning to- after almost four years of crying- Things DO get better, and Life can still be Lovely quite often.
      Cheers & Big Hugs!!

    2. Cheryl L.

      Linda, I relate completely. I did the same. It was as soon as I started to care for myself ( after becoming a widow at 59 years old) and prioritizing myself, two of my 3 daughters decided that I was unworthy of their respect. Now, I take all the love and energy that would have been spent (wasted!?!) on them, I’m now giving to myself. I know I did my best. Yes, there were mistakes, but at no time were those made with intent of causing hurt. Like you, it is my hope that they will eventually see the harm their selfish behaviour has caused.
      Remember to care for yourself

    3. Shelli

      Happy Thanksgiving, also from Canada. It has been 9 years since my two daughters estranged from me (single mom) and now the rest of the family. As a single parent I believe I gave them the best life possible and set them up for success. Dedicated my life focusing on them. When both were in their 20’s and dating I felt It was time to focus on me to find love again. At first they were supportive and encouraged me to date. Only when I fell in love (current husband of +5yrs) my daughter’s relationship with me quickly soured, estrangement was and still is my punishment. They are both now married, living their happily married lives while I was suppose to remain single and miserable. I believe tolerance is no longer a practicing virtue in our society. It is easier and acceptable to dismiss, ignore or cancel someone rather than tolerate them. If I their mother, who bore, love unconditionally, fed, nurtured, educated them have fallen from their intolerance pedestal, I would be interested to know how anyone else in their lives are measured?

    4. Rose

      I too have been estranged from 1 daughter for over 5 years. My youngest & i communicate daily so I will take that. I wake up every morning blessed to be where I am & I started doing a daily devotional & blogging. I started self Bible study & returning from online church to an actual church. I live in the desert & love the weather, desert plants, lake, river, my life. I have forgiven myself for whatever I did or didn’t do & have asked for forgiveness from my Lord, so I am in a happy place. I am happy, content but still read your book to keep me “grounded”. Thank you Sheri for starting this site & your books! Bless all you parents out there going thru pain…you are loved, just keep going & be Happy!

    5. Carleen

      Hi Linda, Good for you for putting yourself first for a change even though it cost you. I am in the same boat and when I stood up for myself finally, I too was cancelled. A part of me died inside when she took a very abusive family member’s side after this family member committed the ultimate betrayal in 2016. I had two choices – leave this planet or rise above it. I worked in a Native healing lodge as a trauma counsellor so had many teachers lead me down a spiritual path looking for answers. The healing journey included forgiveness (of self and others), and self-love. In that inner child work with my wise Elders, I met my 5 year old in a powerful meditation. Long story short, I promised that child (who I hold in my heart) that I would never allow anyone to hurt her again, that she was my priority. I came to love her as much as I loved my daughter. Not more than, but just as much. That made the difference. A good friend said to me “when (not if) you get through this Carleen, you will be indestructible.”. Much love to all you indestructible women.

  4. nancy K

    I always felt I was the person with the worst estrangement because my son had bi-polar diagnosed at the age of 32. His now e-wife told him he did not take have to take medicine and proceeded to divorce him, take his three children and my three grandchildren. Her parents being wealthy, we could not fight them in court. He suffers now with anosognosia and his mind does not update. I still send him a card each month, it brings me a comfort I need and it has been twelve years. He is my only child. Yet, when I read the posts from so many others, I feel so much compassion for them. To just have an adult child just walk away is harrowing and the heart break is compounded. I can say to all, that over time the hurt becomes less, the concerns still remain but I can function each day reading this column and praying for all who suffer.

    1. Barbara R.

      Your comment was uplifting. I too send cards for my comfort. I remember happy times and how sending cards were just me. I’ve been asked to no longer send things to my grandchildren. Breaks my heart.

    2. Kelly F

      I’m also the mom who sends random “thinking of you” cards thru-out the year to my estranged adult daughter. It’s been 19 years. I used to send random “care” packages, along with a birthday and Christmas gift. A cordial acknowledgement was the payoff for me. It seems I don’t need those payoffs anymore and am more frugal these past years. Sending a card is enough to comfort my need to say I’m still here; I still love you.
      Thanks for sharing Nancy.

  5. KeepSmiling79

    My 57-year-old son has been estranged from me since his surgery for a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2009. It wasn’t cancer, but rather acute pancreatitis, yet he blamed me for “thinking he would die.” He is also estranged from his 55-year-old sister over his perception that she and her husband’s family failed to properly care for their mother, my former wife, who ultimately passed away with Alzheimer’s in 2022. I very much disagree with their conclusion. My son and daughter live on the east coast, while I have lived on the west coast since retiring from a career in military service. I have a close, loving relationship with my daughter and her family (husband, adult son, and daughter), but the best description of my current relationship with my son is “civil but primarily administrative.” I’m almost 82, in good health, and happy with my retired life, but I fear reconciliation with my son may not happen for my daughter’s family or myself. My son, his wife, and 2 adult step-children live 3 miles from my daughter, but there has been no contact for several years. This estrangement is a sad fact of life for me.

  6. Naomi

    I live in the “ land down under “ so we are now in Autumn ( Fall ) heading into Winter . Down here we have Mother’s Day coming up in May . It was always a day I dreaded as my only child ( a son ) wouldn’t bother to ring me until late afternoon or at night . To me the day was over by then I would usually spend the day hurting and in tears . Last year I decided to book a site at my favourite caravan park on the beach about 2 hrs drive away . My husband and I and our fur baby had brunch at a local pet friendly cafe . We took fun walks along the beach with our dog and generally had a wonderful time . It was a great distraction . No hurting and no tears !

  7. Eeyore

    Hello everyone. My pastor always says that if you’re feeling low always going out and do something kind or helpful for someone else. It will lift your spirits. It’s really true. Try it.

    1. Linda

      It has been approximately 4 years since our son chose to move on with his new wife and new family without us. It has been hard, but easier as time goes on. We are blessed to have his 4 children in our lives. We are very close to our dear grandchildren, 3 of whom are sadly estranged from their father. The most painful part of this, is watching his children deal with the loss. Thank goodness for counseling. We have all strengthened our bond, includìng our other son and his family. I have the odd bad day of sadness, but I’m able to turn it around when I remember how blessed we are to have love and happiness without our son. He has missed out on so many wönderful achievements his children have made. We all know we have support for each other and lots of love, we are happy with to have what we have.

  8. Hilary

    Thanks to everyone who has shared and to Sheri for her words of wisdom in each newsletter. I have two sons who are both absent from my life. The youngest decided at 16 he would rather live in care than with us and have to live by our rules (mainly no drugs in the house). The rejection was overwhelming. He was in trouble with the police and as part of his sentence he had to undergo a psychological assessment, he was diagnosed with being on the autistic spectrum. He was a loving funny clever boy but once taking drugs turned into a sociopath with a total lack of respect for anyone or anything. My eldest son helped us through this awful time with reassurance that it wasn’t anything we as parents had done or not done. Then after becoming addicted to alcohol and drugs he turned against us too. He now lives a life of which we are not part. People are always telling me not to give up hope and things may change but they just don’t understand. Unless you have been through it there is no way you can understand, that is why this site is so precious, I have good days and bad days, Sometimes the grief and pain are overwhelming, other times I feel numbness is the only way to survive. I have also joined Al Anon which has been a great help and support, I have accepted my powerlessness over the way other behave and the only thing I can control is myself, my own thoughts and actions. Easy to say but hard to do! I still have days of feeling shame and disbelief, and I don’t think that will ever completely disappear but as others have said before we only get one life and I have spent enough of mine dwelling on darkness to not want to waste anymore. When the darkness looms again I try and find beauty and goodness both in nature, my faith, my friends and in my own soul. Thank you Sheri for this site has set me on the path to healing xxx

    1. Diana

      I appreciate you sharing your story, if I have learned one thing, it’s that I am not alone. I have only one son, he and his wife of 18 years have exiled me from their lives for the 4th time since 2004, when he got married. My son & I were so close for many years as I was a single mom, divorced his dad when he was 2. He & his father had a rocky relationship as his dad remarried, had twins, lived far away in the Navy. My heart hurts when I think if the past, look at photos & keepsakes of our simple yet sweet lives together. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had love & respect, he would never of hung up on me, that all started when he got married, his wife never really gave me a chance to become friends, her family moved him in, got him to get engaged and pretty much push me out back then. I feel like I tried my best to always zip my lip, never invited myself where I wasn’t wanted and supported their decision to move 5 hours away, her parents also joined them. When my son hung up on me for good in 2021, his wife never called me, text me nothing to ask what happened? I believe she got her wish, her parents are both gone now, my mom is 91 and was always so good to my son, he hardly calls her, went 4 months without checking on her in an assisted living facility. I went through cancer pretty much alone in 2020, he drive me to surgery & 2 oncology appointments, always in his phone, never talking to me, in fact, the day I was diagnosed, I was in shock scared out of my mind & started crying, he pulled the car over and told me, mom, you need to suck it up, everybody is having a bad year, this was 4-2021 when we were all going through the virus. My sweet son, he was so sensitive as a little boy with such a loving heart, I don’t exactly know what happened, he did start smoking pot at around 16, and still does to this day at 46, he is on so many prescriptions from doctors for high blood pressure, cholesterol, sleep apnea, weighs over 300 lbs, drinks those 2 rum tiki drinks but because he has a good job, money, beautiful home and lots of material things, he believes he has it all figured out. He does not believe in God, he is a Nihilist, they believe life has no meaning, their us no heaven, when we die, no big deal, like a dead dog on the side of the road. I believe in God, my faith only gets stronger everyday, God is 100% in control, if I could control what my son and his wife thought it did, then I would be God, I trust him, in time all will be revealed, I pray daily for them, I find myself feeling grateful that they choose not to have children as they would of denied me access to them & that would of really broken my heart. I am not perfect, I had a difficult time with my mom over the years but I always tried my best to talk with her, tell her honestly how I felt, I never hung up on her or wrote her out of my life, that to me is just cruel and disrespectful & I don’t accept that that kind of behavior, I am a child of God, he doesn’t want that for me either. God bless you all that are hurting this holiday season, your all in my prayers ❤️

  9. Charlyn

    I normally do not post or talk about my daughter and I and our family being estranged from her, for me to talk about all the things that happened is to just relive it and it’s easier for me to not feel anymore hurt plus the judgement you feel from some people makes you feel even worse than you already do. I read your posts and see so much of the hurt and pain and suicidal thoughts that I myself felt, written in your words. It lets me know I’m not alone in all that I have been through. For all of my children’s lives they came first, my oldest daughter and I were best friends, talked every day, I loved her more than my own life and would have taken a bullet for her, that’s why it hurt so much for her to just treat me like I always did something wrong but could never understand why, or what . Now I am living for me, I do not wait for the phone call, the text, the anything anymore, hope made my life unbearable that I wanted to end my life to stop the pain, so I let go of hope to move on for my own sake, not bc I don’t care or don’t love her, I will always love the daughter I knew but I don’t think she exists anymore. I keep busy now, I find things I have always wanted to do but never had the time. One is after my youngest daughter graduated high school, I decided to finally go to college and get a degree in computer programming, I am now in my second semester and doing just as well as I did in high school. Unfortunately my children and others in my life treated me as though I was just a dumb stay at home mom who wasn’t smart and they treated me as such. I getting my degree and will be graduating with honors because I know and have always known that I’m smart, I just never had the opportunity to go to college, so why did the people in my life treat me like I’m dumb? And still do. Just because I was a stay at home mom who makes a small income doing graphic designs? I know I deserve to be treated better. Maybe one day the daughter I love will come back, but I’m not putting my life on hold oainfully hoping for it anymore, I have goals I plan to accomplish:)

    1. Diane H.

      Go you!! Congratulations for coming this far with certain knowledge you will complete and succeed. You have every right to feel so proud of yourself, it’s not easy and maybe sometimes feels lonely without the people you loved the most, but I’m cheering you on and know you are an inspiration to many others.

    2. Cathy O.

      Way to go Charlyn!! I felt your pain and can relate to you as I am having a similar estrangement from my oldest daughter…..we were close forever just as you described, however, the words you stated “I will always love the daughter I knew but I don’t think she exists anymore” are so true. You are brave and strong to pursue your education and take care of yourself! The book, newsletter and website has helped me so much. Best wishes! Cathy

  10. Tee

    I try to find the GOOD every day. Every morning I wake up, before my feet hit the floor I say a prayer for ES. Then its time to wake the hubby with a kiss, hug and ‘ I love you’. I fix a big breakfast while looking out the kitchen window at the birds, squirrels and if I am lucky, a deer. I do a morning walk on my trails while listening to my Christian playlist, uplifting music while taking in the sights of nature. At the end of walk, I once again pray and recall a fond memory of son…but I will not let the fond memories overwhelm me with sadness. I end the day with prayer with hubby and end our prayers with 3 things we are grateful for from the day, this has helped us to be thankful for the GOOD of the day.
    I worked hard on with ‘ getting on with living life ‘ & learning to live with fullness on this journey. I am at the 4 year mark of estrangement.. Last week on the 4 year mark I received an email from son … a ‘ grievance ‘ email that was 1) full of hate directed to me, 2) I don’t believe he wrote this email on his own, 3) he wants no contact ever again. I took pause, reflected and responded ‘ no further contact will be made’ & wished him happiness and good health. I told I attempted contact about his father ( having health issues and having surgery soon) but i gave no details. No response. I am okay with it…the GOOD is the finality.

    1. Toni D.


      Wow! I feel better just reading the positive message and intentional steps you take to wring all the good out of a day that is possible. Your enthusiasm while recognizing pain that comes from estrangement radiates off the page. Thank you so much. And blessings to you and your husband.


  11. Emerald

    It’s true that Mother Nature gives equally, generously and unconditionally to all of us whereas selfishness of humans sometimes knows no bounds.
    Over the Covid lockdown, I and my husband invested in a bird table and found joy in watching birds, squirrels visit that focal point in our garden to enjoy food and water we put out for them. I grew lemon plants from seeds and various veg and flowers which I found rewarding.
    We raised our two children with lots of love and care and never imagined in our wildest dreams that out doting, loving son will turn toxic towards us suddenly just after his marriage. We tried in various ways to talk to him, to listen, and to reason- but how do you even make any sense of blatant lies; and how long do you tolerate soul destroying abuse. So you have to give up. I tried Men’s domestic abuse charity and even take advice from the police due to the sudden ‘change in my sons appearance and behaviour’; which is common in victims of domestic abuse, that everyone warns you about. However when you report and reach out for support – the same people tell you ‘but he is an adult’ – which is true, but then there is little point in asking people to ‘identify red-flags and early signs’ if no one can do anything!

    In my experience other humans – apart from those who experience alienation themselves- do not understand. Hence don’t even bother sharing your grief with anyone. Far from being sympathetic, they try to find holes in your story and too eager to label you as a bad parents. I was left even more bruised and hurt every time I tried sharing my grief with ‘nears and dears’. As if the hurt and grief itself was not enough- I had additional blame to deal with. Now I just don’t bother talking to anyone. My son has two children now who he hasn’t bothered telling us about. I tried to go and see my grandchildren but my daughter in law and son shouted at me and my sister.

    We can’t have the joy of seeing our grandchildren grow but we have birds, plants, seasons and new stars and planets appearing in the sky every night (Jupiter is really clear these days).

    Last but not the least- perhaps we humans put too much value on personal relations. We can learn from birds who have new chicks each season and get done with them. After all how many of us remember the names of our grandparents or great grandparents? If you have difficulty; you know that no one will remember us in another 50 years. All I care for now is whether I am kind and sensitive enough to the worries and pains of those around me. So I try to ensure I smile at all humans, be helpful as much as I can; and I am kind to nature around me – but I continue to expect back only from nature.

    1. Elle

      Well said Emerald. If anyone would have told me 5 years ago that I would be a member of this estrangement community I would have thought they were smoking crack. But here I am, a card carrying member with a 28 year old daughter who has been estranged for 1 1/2 years and is now influencing her brother to disconnect from me as well. I was a Single Mom who divorced their horrible father and raised them by myself. I gave them everything I had. Worked hard, sacrificed, supported each of them, educated them, gave them pretty much whatever they wanted. And now they want nothing to do with me.
      I relate to every single one of you. The pain, sadness, anger, disappointment, shock, and did I mention pain? And my envy of friends and family and others who were far from perfect parents and their kids treat them with respect and spend time with them. Thank goodness for my wonderful dog, and the hummingbirds who feed at my year-round feeder, and the flowers and trees and lakes and clouds. Thank goodness for nature. I’ve been through some pretty challenging times in my life but this experience takes my breath away with its depth of hurt. Blessings to all of you and thank you to Sheri for everything she does for all of us.

      1. Alexandra

        “this experience takes my breath away with its depth of hurt.”

        Yes, this describes how I feel. One son, lives 2 miles from us. He has a wife and 2 boys. Every once in awhile I get the kids run by me, and that is how he tells himself he hasn’t abandoned us. But he has.

    2. Tovah

      Your words resonate so strongly.
      I remember a quote from Frank Lloyd wright that says to believe in nature because it will never let you down. I’ve carried that with me ever since.
      There’s little use in sharing our situation with those who are not living this experience. It’s like the many soldiers who didn’t share their experiences of war with their families. How can that possibly be understood by someone who wasn’t in their shoes?
      Our experience has been that people in our lives are concerned and caring but they want to fix it or they want us to fix it. They are uncomfortable with our experience and could possibly wonder privately if it could happen to them, if they were around to see what you have invested in the raising of your children.
      We have agreed to share as little as possible with people going forward, knowing that it can’t fix anything and to spare ourselves from feeling the pity, judgment and discomfort they feel.
      Like you we plan to celebrate Mother Nature and find our truest contentment there.

    3. Hilary

      Wow Emerald, your post really spoke to me. Perhaps you are right regarding our expectations from humans being unrealistic. I agree that nature gives us joy with no agenda or need for anything in return. Thank you for sharing your insights. x

  12. happy

    I realize I dont have any control over these kids so I tell myself do anything, movies, walking, zumba, yoga, go to the beach, just get out and live. No use being miserable the rest of my life so I make a choice to not be. Thanksgiving, husb and I will go out and I will enjoy not cooking. Xmas Eve we go out and I cook some good tasty foods for us on Xmas. Making my own happiness feels good.

    1. Tovah

      This is the way. You are wise and will persevere because you know your worth and you know what it takes to heal.
      All we have is this day to be alive and step into the stream of life. We are all at different places in the journey and I am very happy for you that you are where you are!
      Please continue sharing your perspectives. They have the power to inspire and uplift someone who may be in a dark place.
      Thank you

    2. Sue

      This is very good advice – (keeping busy). Also, I found Tovah’s comments in his first post very helpful. As he said, soldiers didn’t share their experiences either – probably wise advice to take going forward. Thank you to both…..

  13. Tracey M.

    I’m focusing on my two successful sons and future daughter n law! So much to be thankful for- My oldest son ran an Ultra Marathon yesterday – his first and he took 5th overall for the 50 mile run and 1st in his age group. My other son will be celebrated next weekend when his D1 team receives their Big 10 Championship rings! Great accomplishments by both of them. That motto is GO ONE MORE! I’m also starting to work on a recipe scrapbook for future DIL and we will give it to her at the bridal shower next year. So she will have recipes from family and friends. Each day I’m focusing less and less on my ED who chose to leave her entire family. I tell myself its really her loss and think she will one day regret her decisions in life. As for me I plan to GO ONE MORE!

    1. Donna S.

      There is road construction in my beautiful neighborhood, forcing us to drive through neighborhoods we never go into. They are not as “ pretty “ as ours. The other day I was stopped for a school bus in this not so nice area. Children got off the bus smiling , laughing and running home. Joy filled! I found myself smiling as well. I noticed a delivery person taking a package up to a door. What a good feeling it is when something I expected arrives. Then I noticed the houses, not fancy , worn and in need of repair. But , yet hope was there on the often rickety steps, pumpkins! Bright colored leaf garlands , gourds. Hope for tomorrow. I am glad that the road brought me here today.

  14. Just me

    I find it difficult. I do bird watch. With my dogs. But still reeling in horror. It’s hard getting past the pain and loss. I wonder if I can survive it on some days. My daughter is a psychopath we learned. We learned she never loved us. Inability to do so. So no hope. I actually wish I aborted her. To bring a person into the world without a conscience is hard. Knowing she will likely hurt everyone she crosses paths with is a heavy burden. She got all she can out of us.

    1. Renee

      Omgosh. I feel your pain. I took have a daughter who is not totally estranged but might as well be. She lives literally one block away, but does not initiate contact with me hardly ever. She treats her dad & grandparents like gold. It’s nearly destroyed me. Praying we all find that place of peace & serenity quickly

  15. Nancy A.

    My heart breaks for all the parents here that are in pain. As sad as I am at times, especially with the holidays coming up, I feel so lucky to have found Sheri’s book. One thing that has really helped me is to realize that the daughter that I miss is the little one in my head and not the adult that is cruel and dismissive. Although the estrangement was a shock, In retrospect, it had been building to that, ever since our daughter was a pre-teen. We had happy moments, but our life for the most part, was totally wrapped up in chaos. Not having that in our life has, honestly been a relief. Most other people would not understand that, but I think there are parents here that will. Two things that have helped me are to find one thing- however small to be grateful for. The second is to find opportunities to make a bright spot in someone’s day. As someone else commented, a little complement can make someone light up. And it can lift you up as well. I’m sorry my daughter doesn’t want to share her life, but its not my fault. I won’t let someone ruin whatever time I have left. I was an exceptional Mom, even if I did make some normal mistakes. Its good to tell myself that, and to remember that I was a person with interests- before I was a parent. My goal is to get back to that person. Blessings to everyone here. You are not “nothing” without your adult child.

    1. Toni P.

      OMG Nancy I so appreciate your comment. I too have lost an adult daughter and her two children. It will be 4 years this November. Yes there are days when I am sad and miss them terribly, but your comment on stating that you were a good mom and did the best you could along with all the normal mistakes, helps me to remind myself this is all true for me too!!! It helps to know that there is other parents/mom’s out there experiencing the same emotions and heart break. I do just get days that are hard, but on a positive note I do have two beautiful grandsons, from my other daughter, that love me and I can watch them grow and enjoy their laughter. Thank You

    2. Sharon

      I can totally identify with your comments!! I also know that who I miss is the little boy my son was, not who he has grown to become. For a whole year he didn’t talk to us and I actually found peace during that time! And I came to accept that the situation is what it is and I can’t change it but I can move forward in life and find peace and happiness. I really moved forward. But now he is at me again with the usually accusations and negative self talk. It’s too much and I dont even want to be a part of it. Like you said, most people would not understand this. And that is ok. But it is nice to know I’m not alone. And for those in the thick of it, know that it is possible to get to a place where you are ok!!

  16. Michelle

    I loved this article! The analogy of the plants finding nourishment and displaying their beauty in the desert really spoke to me. Like most if not all of us here, I am looking to regain my joy. This is an ACTIVE. DAILY. PRACTICE. I find the good where I look for it! The good is all around me and within me. Today I found the good in something I heard today that brought me deep comfort: “wherever you’re at, you can work with it.” No matter how bad things are, or how bad I may be feeling, I can work with it. It can even nourish and add beauty + richness to my life. The pain of separation may be there all the time or some of the time, but we do not have to stay there. We can actively seek and bring more joy into our lives.

  17. Rosanne

    I found some unexpected joy today watching a guy spin a sign for new homes while I was at a stoplight. This guy was just working at it with gusto and passion. Talk about doing any job you do it and doing it well, this was the epitome. I found myself smiling and not wanting the light to turn green as I watched this guy’s creative and exuberant moves. Since there are more small moments of joy in the day than significant ones, I choose to focus on those. The sign guy made me happy and he’ll never know he’s made an impact!

    1. Tovah

      What a great moment for you, Rosanne!
      Relief sometimes comes in the most surprising forms — and thank goodness for it!
      It made me think of a time that I was sad about something and went somewhere where there was a street mime performing. He really pulled me out of my sadness for at least the rest of that day.

  18. Maddy

    I find no joy in my life. I’m alone, my eldest son killed himself, and my youngest is abusive, as his father was, and we do not speak. He also took my grandson away from me as well. My middle son speaks to me, but we spend little time together. He has a life, and I’m rarely involved in it. I survived one pout of breast cancer, and continue to hope it does not come back. I could go on with the horror that has been my life, but what is the point. I try to find some joy in my every day life, but I feel nothing. I think I’m just so tired of having one trauma after another. But, I do appreciate your emails, and I’m trying to keep going.

    1. Judith M.

      Maddy, maybe you could find solace in friends if family have failed you. In all honesty, it has been the women friends in my life you have got me through the darkest hours. Get out of the house and find something that you enjoy doing, it will lift your mood and help you to meet other people. Perhaps it is time to stop looking for something from your children that they may never be able to provide. Sometimes friends can fill a need too, not exactly the same [I know] but it I can be a substitute for the connectedness that your family is unwilling or unable to provide. Friendships can certainly ease your pain and your stress, which can only help your physical health too. xx

    2. Kim

      I’m sending a big ol’ hug your way! Trying to keep going is a good plan and great first step. I so hope that you will soon move on to the next step, whatever that might be. When our family is our passion, and those ties are severed, it definitely takes time and sincere effort to find new things that make us feel deeply. I’m working on that now, and seem to manage it for larger and larger portions of my day these days.

    3. Diane

      Dear Maddy,
      If someone looked at my life story it would look like a sad and unbelievable story. But!
      Since a very young age I fell in love with my Heavenly
      Father. He has never left me. I now have a Scripture for you. It is in the Psalms:
      Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean
      not upon your own understanding. In All
      your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct
      your path!
      Pray for your children. God is in charge
      of everything and He truly wants only what
      is good. Don’t try to understand. Take good care of yourself and do what gives you peace.
      Hugs and Love

    4. Donna

      Now this I relate to. It’s so easy to say find something – when you’ve got your health. For those of us who have been literally used up ’til our health is wrecked, that’s just not possible. Not about to go into grusome details but I was violently ill again yesterday and often am without warning. I feel chained to the damned bathroom as I dare not wander far from it. I was left alone to fend for myself now that I’m old, ill and disabled and my daughter who feigns at “helping” once every few weeks so not totally estranged and won’t be because I need the help and she damned well knows it and gaslights me constantly. I got violently ill yesterday. Weak and ill waiting for medicine to work, I had to mop floor, shower and do laundry myself because I’ve been used up and tossed aside like an old shoe.

      My life is hell and I did nothing to deserve it. I think constantly of moving into assisted living because I need HELP that’s not going to happen. (Please, groceries every few weeks; I can get the store to deliver.) But I can’t afford it because neither Medicare nor my private health insurance cover it (you have to buy long-term care separately and that wasn’t a thing that even existed until I was too ill to buy that or life insurance) and am just over the line for Medicaid. You read the ads for assisted living and they say so what we’re charging more than your income. You can sell your house. As if I have one to sell. And no I do not have vet benefits, savings (fleeing with her to another state left me impoverished and living pay to pay without child support), have social security and a pension that puts me just above the income limits for state assistance and I’m just utterly shafted. That knife in my back in return for rescuing her from an abusive father is not feeling any too good.

      God, I miss that little girl who would watch old people strugging on the bus and promise Mom, i will never let that be you. It isn’t me. I can’t even do as much as them. I need help but there is none. She’s left her mother to fall through the cracks. Her mother who refused to look the other way and let her be abused when family court refused to help but got on a plane with her instead. I honestly think that she only comes to “help” (brings groceries, cooks me a meal and will straighten up and do my laundry every few weeks but it’s better than nothing and I’ll take it) because she does feel guilty because she remembers her father’s abuse and will readily admit I saved her life even as she gaslights me blaming me for any tiny thing that wasn’t perfect in her life but does feel guilty if she doesn’t convince herself she’s helping Mom when really she is only minimally as I am struggling to take care of myself. I don’t want to go into assisted living but I may wind up in a state run facility if the state will stop saying I have too much money when most people would sniff at my income and call me a poor.

      Look for something good every day? I’m simply not able to. I’m lucky to pull myself through the day. I distract myself with internet and reading and watching videos and word puzzles because it’s all I’m capable of. And I swear my body gets mad that I was happy for five seconds and comes with disrupting that with misery.

      In the words of Paul Simon, “A good day ain’t got no rain.” But the next line – “A bad day’s when I lie in bed and think of things that might have been” – I wish was what my bad days are like. Please, I have all I can do to manage as I feel myself slip, sliding away.

      Hope? I miss having hope. Hope is gone. Paul Simon was my hero growing up and I always lived by another lyric of his, “If your hopes should slip away, simply pretend that you can build them again.” It always worked – until my health failed. I can no longer pretend.

      People have always also claimed if you need help, ask for it. Yeah, right. No one cares.

      I sit here groaning with a stomach that never stops hurting (and yes I know the reasons why which doesn’t really help as the doctors can’t cure it) and wondering when every few weeks will become every few months then never and how I’ll manage then.

      I shudder at the thought of assisted living – especially in a state run facility which will be all I’ll have if the state catches up with me and actually cares enough to place me somewhere so they can steal my pensions and keep me alive just so they can. I’d rather die to be honest but my body seems intent on torturing me but not killing me.

      My daughter and grandson’s presence in my life would make a difference. Instead they moved to another state for my SILs sake. I don’t know how this prevents them from texting just to see how I am. Oh, wait – it doesn’t. (Grandson has just turned 19 so he too is perfectly capable of checking up on his grandmother or sending a text to cheer her up now and then but I can’t force either one of them to care.)

    5. JM

      I’m so so sorry life has dealt you such awful cards. I’m new to all of this and am trying to find a way to cope myself. Our son suddenly, without provocation, dropped us 2 years ago. But we are permitted to see and talk to our grandson at least. Our daughter discarded me 2 months ago but we’re still permitted to see our grandchildren. I adore my daughter. And I’m in extreme pain over this and filled with shame. I can’t imagine going through grief and severe illness. I’ll pray for you.

  19. Tovah

    I’m planting daffodils on an embankment that is visible from our front windows. We have a small area of them now, and it’s such a thrill seeing the bright yellow blooms and green leafy swords popping out of the cool earth in springtime. My goal is to fill the entire embankment with them and hope they naturalize.
    This is a new home for us; I had 4 gardens in our old home including a Zen Garden enclosed by 28 arborvitae, all of which I dug holes for in the hardest clay soil imaginable.
    I swore I wouldn’t do much gardening here but I am unable to stop!
    It is so rewarding. I can change my focus and plant things that need less upkeep so I don’t get overwhelmed. but I know that I experience such healing and connectedness when I am close to nature and to stop that (especially now) would be bad for me.
    Not having our daughters around us feels so much like death. It’s hard to know what to do with all the love you have to give if you can’t give it to them. It is a little like losing a cherished pet. At first you know that you can’t ever love another the way you loved the one lost but when you’re ready chances are good that you will be thinking about the new pet you can adopt. Because that love you have is just bursting from your heart and something tells you to find someone or something to receive it, and give it back to you.
    So this is my positive thought, that I will find ways to invest my love into people, animals and even plants, knowing that love will be felt, made visible, spark growth and be returned to me a hundredfold.
    God bless you all at this safe place. Please keep holding on to your faith and belief that you are valued. Give your love to those who know enough to honor it.

  20. Marilyn

    Thank you for all the wonderful people expressing their heartache. It’s difficult to really realize I belong here. I had one child. A sweet little girl. The best thing that ever happened to me. I’m 71 years and she’s 43,I have two grandsons C. (18) and B. (9). She won’t pass on mail to them It feels like torture. I’m praying when they are older they would reach out to me!

  21. Terez W

    I didn’t realize how powerful developing a habit of intentionally setting the vision of each day was until I had to start relying on it in 2019 when the oldest of our 2 sons began his campaign of estrangement. For most of my marriage I have been in the habit of rising early, praying, reading, and setting intentions for wisdom and revelation to frame my life. For years it felt kind of meaningless. But it was a quiet time where I could enjoy a quiet cup of coffee before the chaos of the house, school, and work would explode with the coming dawn.

    Then in late 2019 when our oldest son announced to my husband and me that he resented us for “raising him with everything he could ever need or want”, then leaving our lives; I realized that all those years of morning devotions were a preparation for the emotional hurricane that had just hit. Even in all the pain of the experience of being rejected by this beautiful human being that I was so grateful to have raised; and subsequently watching from a distance as he systematically estranged himself from his brother, cousins, and grandparents; I was and still am able to cling on to searching each day for beauty and good in this world. And am- I think- more equipped to daily search for ways that I can not only find joy, but to pass joy and piece onto others….because this process which had become a habit was now something I really needed to get through one day at a time.

    I have expanded my thirst to look for good and to do good. There is now a big stack of all kinds of books on my morning devotion table that include scientific journals, nature journals, and current scholarship on human rights and climate change; as well as the Torah, Tanak, and the New Testament. I now understand that the more good and miraculous things I know about, the more good I can model and share. I really rely on this morning time of learning and setting intentions.

    Thank you for this platform where we are all reminded that we are not alone; and for this reminder that searching for good is such a great way to help the healing process, and to help others around us know they are loved and valued.

    1. rparents Post author

      You’re welcome, Terez. And thank YOU for sharing how you embody this message. It helps those reading here to hear.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Ingrid B.

      I have never responded to any comment or article on this forum before but was moved by your writings. My soul left me when our beautiful daughter estranged herself from us and every family member and anyone who knows me. Today is Thanksgiving and I thank the Lord for bringing her into my life for the time I had with her. I miss her laughter and that beautiful smile every day and pray for the miracle of her coming back into my life someday but know that will likely never happen. I raised her to be a resourceful independent woman and now that haunts me every day as I miss her so very much.

  22. John Y.

    I use the ‘Daily Kairos’ prayer journal which asks you to write down three things you are grateful for each day!! Sometime, my estranged son makes the list, especially if he is on my mind.

  23. Annemarie

    As light & frothy as this sounds, I just purchased a great pair of hiking boots. I love hiking and the area I live in is gorgeous with Fall foliage. I also hike in Winter and plan to use them then as well. This was therapeutic for me. I loved your analogy of plants thriving in the desert. Yes. Conditions do not have to be perfect to flourish. I have my moments. My sad times. But I don’t stay long and am feeling stronger every day.

  24. Shelley L.

    I’ve learned at 67 to not put anything in
    Front of you that you don’t want to see.
    Instead have something in your mind that makes you smile & feel good.

  25. Sue

    As a Canadian, Sheri, I very much appreciated your mention regarding our Canadian Thanksgiving, which is happening this weekend. I will be alone because my one sweet daughter lives 1,000 miles away but we will have a long chat on Thanksgiving Day, so that is what I am looking forward to. On the other hand, it has been 19 long months since my older daughter estranged from me. The sadness will always prevail but I am now newly settled in a smaller city and making new friends. I am relieved to leave the sad memories behind from my former city. I ordered a new book to read ( as a Thanksgiving treat to me) is & am meeting new friends in my new apartment building here. Also enjoying Fall walks by the St. Lawrence River, gazing across the St. Lawrence River to New York State. The Fall leaves are so beautiful in both our countries. Thankful also for my wonderful cat who gives me so much affection. Thank you, Sheri for your books and newsletters which keep me going ……

    1. rparents Post author

      Thank you, Sue. I am going to look up that river. I love how you shared your view. When so much of the world was on lockdown (covid), there was a site where people shared their view from the window or balcony. It was neat to see those views from around the world.

      Sheri McGregor

  26. Marie

    I enjoyed reading your « Looking for the Good » somethings I can apply and some not. Years ago, when my daughters were younger, we were all together celebrating all special holidays including birthdays, now my husband has passed away in 2020, my oldest daughter has been estranged from me for quite a few years, I will spend thanksgiving with my youngest daughter and two granddaughters, but nothing is the same, always a hurt in my gut. Sold our house, moved in to a condo, met a few ladies that I can do things with, but when your life has been shattered it’s extremely difficult to forget. But the good Lord is by my side and I find strength with Him. Thank you Sheri ❤️

  27. Elba F.

    Hello I’m still adjusting to my new life and it’s not easy but I’m surviving. I’m trying to understand why people that I used to have around me and love me are refusing my presence in theirs life now.

  28. Ilene A.

    Staying off social media is fabulous advice. Friends encourage me to get on Facebook I am happier not seeing these “perfect” family pictures with grandchildren and grandparents on fun-filled adventures. Hearing about these adventures is hard enough.

    1. Patti

      I agree 100%. Having my son block me from all his social media has ruined it all for me. I can’t enjoy anyones happy stories when I have none to share.

  29. Peg J.

    Shari, I am in agony around the year and a half old estrangement by my daughter. I am not coping and think daily of suicide, even though I am in therapy. My life is empty. I do not have a partner, a stable home, a group of friends, unable to retire at 68. My older son (he is 42, my daughter is 32) has been estranged for years. I dealt with it by the knowledge that I had a relationship with his half sister and brother. Never did I think this would happen. Now I live in terror of losing my other child. I have moved back and forth across the country trying to find peace. This seems to have cemented the estrangement, though I have no word from her to provide understanding. There were a couple of teases…… we were going to write letters, but she wrote one short one a year ago, then nothing. My therapist asked her if she would have a mediated talk with me to which she agreed, but never scheduled. The pain is truly unbearable. I sleep poorly, can’t concentrate. The pain needs to stop.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Peg,
      I’m so very sorry to hear about your situation and the depth of your pain. It’s so good that you are in therapy and supported locally. Stay with it. Be loving and kind to yourself and love yourself. If you and your therapist haven’t read my books, I hope you will. Sometimes, learning to let go of something currently beyond our control gives us the space, freedom, and focus to work on ourselves and for ourselves. We can come back to reaching out later if we want to, and from a better, different perspective.

      Take good care of yourself, ok. Whenever I am under loads of stress and emotional distress, I try to remember the basics of eating regularly and healthy, simple foods. Also physical exercise, and a steady “diet” of good energy (funny videos, spiritual stuff, beautiful scenes, that sort of thing).

      Read through the comments by other parents to this article too.

      Big hugs to you Peg.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Carla

      Dear Peg, I started an antidepressant against my own will of wanting to “handle” this myself but the suicidal tendencies were exhausting. The medication has removed all
      Thought of suicide and I feel relief. You may want to try this for now. Love and hugs. Blessings to you ❤️

    3. Catherine

      Dear Peg
      My heart hurts for you. I have been in that black hole. My faith sustains me everyday.
      I sometimes need to take tiny baby steps to look for happiness. I write a gratitude list, I always find something to be grateful for, even if it’s just a cup of coffee in the morning. Remember you are not alone.
      God bless you.

    4. Rose W.

      My heart breaks for you Peg. Your story sounds so similar to mine. I’ve been in so much pain and been suicidal for so many years. Holidays are the worst. I put tremendous pressure on the kids that weren’t estranged because I was always crying over their missing sister.
      I never believed the pain would lessen. I could see no end to this terrible pain and actually thought that parents who could move on must be cold hearted. Because I have refused to keep the date in my head when she and I last spoke I’m not sure if it has been four or five years.
      In the beginning I could not even go to this website. Instead of being comforted by it I was horrified at how common it was and that seemed to make things even more hopeless.
      In the last six months or so I have finally been able to not let thoughts of her overwhelm me. Eventually the therapy starts to work. I had therapy that uses the same principles as Sheri’s book. I suppose one thing that helped the most was having a goal to look forward to. Also learning that my other kids don’t see me through the same eyes as their troubled sister.
      I hope that although your circumstances may be a bit different than mine that I can send a little comfort that I know how you feel. I’ve been there and never believed it could get better. It took me a long time to even engage in this website and you are the first person I have ever messaged. I want to give you hugs and tell you even though you probably won’t believe it now that with time and therapy you can see that there is a life beyond the pain of estrangement. If you don’t’ believe me, that’s okay. I didn’t believe it either. But I am finally at a place that I’m glad my suicide attempt didn’t work.

    5. Aeriol

      Hi Peg,
      Just want to send you some love.
      You are not alone – I am hurting too, and never thought it would come to this either.
      If I may give a little advice I would say try to get outside every day even just for a few minutes if you can. It may help you feel a little better.
      Sending much love and support

    6. Diane M.

      Peg, I’m sorry to hear you are having such a bad time. I agree with that person that wrote about possibly trying an antidepressant. There are some really good ones out today with hardly any side-effects. And if there are any, if you just wait it out, they disappear in time. Do you have a good doctor that can help you with this? Then talk therapy will be very helpful along with these meds. I was suicidal also, at one point in my life. I finally took an antidepressant and did feel better. I combined this with talk therapy. My son attempted suicide many times in the past. He was then diagnosed with bipolar and is now under treatment. He disappeared and no one knew where he was for 10 years. He was living on the streets all this time. That was when he was severely depressed and was suicidal. He finally got help, we reconnected and I am so grateful that he is alive. We now keep in touch. So, there is always, always hope for us. I am estranged from my adult daughter, my son-in-law and three grown grandkids. But I focus on my relationship with my son. I keep telling him what a Joy he is in my life. I want him to know how much I value him. There is hope for you too. Never, ever give up. You never know what is right around the corner. If you believe in God, then know that He gave us good doctors to help us and medications too. Wishing you the best. I hope you will write and let us know how you are doing. Sending many good wishes your way. Hope you feel better soon.

    7. Shari

      Hi peg, my heart feels your pain. The shock of how the dreams of a family, now shattered,has left us all empty and dead inside, yet we Carry on only surviving.
      Would it be selfish of us to forget we had them? When people ask I want to say I’m all alone in this world? Is that ok?
      Reading all of everyone’s pain on here gives me solace and comfort to know I am not a bad person or a bad mother. I reach out to my kids every so often with an emoji of love.
      I do it for ME! Yes it hurts when I don’t see any reply , but knowing that I have sent out my love brings me peace. I have no expectations of a return love . I am being me. I pray that god will give us all the strength we need to accept this karmic journey of ours till the debt is paid .. love shari

    8. Diane

      I know this will sound trite but peace comes when we give Everything
      Over to God and trust Him.Don’t try to understand ! We all are given a
      Free Will and your children have theirs. Just pray
      Love ❤️

    9. Aeriol

      Hi Peg,
      Just want to send you some love.
      You are not alone – I am hurting too, and never thought it would come to this either.
      If I may give a little advice I would say try to outside every day even just for a few minutes if you can. It may help you feel a little better.
      Sending much love and support

    10. Amy

      Dear Peg,
      I know those suicidal thoughts all too well. It’s the reason I’m reaching out to you. My thoughts are scrambled right now so bare with me. That deep, dark hole can be ridiculously hard to get out of, but trust me when I say it can be done. Each and every time it happens. And we both know how often it happens. I am literally begging you to try medication along with continuing to see your therapist. The medication will help to correct the imbalance of chemicals in your brain and the therapy will help give you the tools to cope and overcome those feelings of doom. I could not in good conscious read what you said and pass you by because if something happened to you and I said nothing I’d have a hard time forgiving myself. My Mother suffered from depression her entire life. And for good reason. She tried to unalive herself before I was born, then again more than a decade later when I was pregnant with my first born at 19. I’m almost 52 now. And I still can feel and see in my head the agony she was feeling. She later said she didn’t really want to leave but at the moment the pain was just too much. But she fought hard to find her happy. And she did. She found new love and enjoyed the short time she had with him til he passed from cancer. She lived another 8 years herself until cancer caught her as well. It’s been 14 since she left this Earth but if she were here she’d tell you to just keep trying. She found joy in the smallest places. And now so do I. I also suffer from the estrangement of both of my children, loss of both my parents and last year, one of my brothers. I have two still here but only one has not spoken to me or even acknowledged I exist for most of my life. I haven’t spoken to either of my kids for over 4 years now. I had an issue with one and the other just decided to follow her. I’ve had thoughts of suicide so many times I’ve lost count. I went through 10 years of severe depression. Had not worked the entire time. I decided to get help through therapy and medication. Honestly just being able to purge my thoughts to someone impartial was so rewarding. That and those medications really, really helped. I’ve been back to work for 3 years now. I’ve even been promoted to assistant manager. Life still isn’t perfect. But I am no longer letting others control my life and feelings. I live for the quiet moments where I can sit outside and feel the wind on my face and here and see the birds singing. Heck I even got me some chickens! They make the cutest little sounds! I’ve gone through the stages of losing my kids as if they passed away. Every now and then it’ll creep into my thoughts but I gently put them aside. I know I’m rambling but I just want you to know that I see you. I hear you. And I understand you. Please don’t give up. Please keep trying. Not for us or anyone else. But for you. You deserve happiness.

  30. Karina B.

    I have an adorable five month old sheepadoodle. He keeps my mind fairly positive and I cherish this little guy. Part of me still grieves but no where as long or hard as it did in the early days… I walk a lot and the trees and looking at the sky and even walking in the city discovering a new shop or restaurant puts me in a happy place. It’s not fool proof and I have a heavy heart but I do appreciate the kindness of a stranger more than I ever have….

    1. Toni P.


      I do agree that animals are very good therapy, I’ve got goats, dogs, and horses. I also do trail walks with music. You are not alone on having hard days, I don’t think they completely go away, some days are harder than others. But like all the other moms that are part of this group, have to be positive and it helps so much to have all this feedback and most of all Sheri – who is AWESOME to take care of all of us and hopefully she takes care of herself. She is the best.

  31. Deborah S.

    This is my first holiday season being estranged from my two adopted daughters. I have not seen or heard from them in over seven months. I am preparing for the holidays now. My husband and I have a huge home and we will be reaching out to our church to share the holidays with families that are less fortunate than we are. We will open our doors wide this year. New Year’s Eve will be very difficult for me personally as I will miss them and wonder about what my future might look like. I am planning on spending that evening with family and friends, filling it with prayer, hope, and laughter. I hope that this will set the tone for 2023.
    Thank you for your books in helping me survive the first 6 months of the worst agony I ever went through.

    1. Tovah

      How lovely a thing to do, Deborah!
      The happiness you spread around will find its way back to you somehow. Giving really is better than receiving!

  32. Anne F.

    Lisa, what beautiful thoughts you wrote.
    I’m also a “glass half full” type of gal and ALWAYS look for the good in folk. It’s going to be a gorgeous Fall day where I live. We need to get out and enjoy while we still can.
    Forget about these estranged children and enjoy your own company …. You’re worth it.

  33. Karen

    Although I was having a tough day, my youngest invited me on a walk. I really wanted to just stay in bed but got up and went. Appreciating his invite.
    We had a good time and I’m grateful I still have 2 son’s that still love me.

  34. Chris P.

    I’m so glad that I have found the comfort of this group. Thank-you.
    I live in England where Thanksgivibg is not celebrated but Christmas is not far off. Christmas for me was always a time of great excitement and joy! I would begin my planning in October by asking my children what ‘theme’ we should have for decorating. Over the years we had many….Crafty Christmas, Santa’s Toy Shop, Christmas Around the World! Traditions are made over many years and are an integral part of the family celebrations. Since both my children (along with my two grandchildren and son-in-law) have been estranged (2 years now) I have begun a journey which is different. My new partner and I are making new traditions and memories which I hope will continue to grow.
    I wake each morning and make a plan. One that may involve meeting up with my good friends for some tea and cake. We always find something to laugh about and if any of us need to discuss a problem then we all do our best to help. They are a blessing in my life and I love and appreciate them very much. I have determined that kindness is a great medicine for a broken heart – both for others and myself. So this Christmas, my partner and I are celebrating Christmas in a lovely boutique hotel away from old traditions and starting anew. Before leaving home Christmas Day though I will decorate my home and invite friends and family for a get-together and make sure we all have a great celebration. This is one of the traditions I plan to continue! Another is to donate my time or money to a more needy group who may not have the Christmas pleasures that I am lucky enough to enjoy.

  35. Carol M.

    I have spent the last 7 years trying to work out what I did wrong, second guessing, I have engaged in phsycic readings for insight, trauma healing and counselling, reiki healing etc etc, ALL trying to work out how and why this happened. Now I am learning that I need to be happy with ME, where I am TODAY, doing what I do TODAY, making connections with people along the way TODAY, learning new crafts and skills TODAY ….. I think its called living in the moment. And finally slowly, day at a time I believe I am healing and coming to terms with my loss and grief. I still send them loving, healing, wellbeing thoughts because I still want to be the best mum that I can, I’m doing it for ME, knowing that whatever else happens I have a clear conscience knowing that I will never stop loving them. What they choose to do in return is up to them xxxxxxxxxxxxx

    1. Kathy G

      Carol thank you for this. It’s heart-wrenching to read about so many people in pain like me, but messages like yours do help comfort me and help me realize that someday I may find more peace than today (still pretty fresh). I KNOW I am a good “mum.” My other daughters reassure me of that every day. Why the other one made the choices she did, I will never know. But I am definitely at peace that I am a good mother.

    2. Shari

      I do exactly the same. For ME”! The rest is their issue. They can never say to you that you were never there. God bless

  36. Peg J.

    I read the responses and impressed by everyone. I am told to start living my own life or i lose it. It has been a year and a half for me. There were indications of some bit of reconciliation to happen but it never came to fruition. I used to feel my daughter’s love was in my heart wherever I was. Now there is nothing but a void. I am in therapy. Nothing helps. I write gratitudes. Nothing helps. I walked the Camino in Spain. Some relief while doing it. But back and feeling worse than ever. I alienate people if I talk about it. I am told everyone experiences loss. I teeter on the edge of suicide. I made a commitment in therapy not to kill myself. My life does not feel worth living and the pain must stop.

    1. Ann

      I believe that we sign up for the lessons in our life (I think that we have many lives, a definite stretch from growing up Catholic). My point though, whatever your circumstance, you have value. You are in this life for a reason. Perhaps you have helped people in ways you can’t imagine.
      I was once in a terrible down mood. I took a walk and my mood worsened. I walked by a store. A man was on a ladder painting a second story. He stopped what he doing, turned around, smiled, and said “have a good day.” I do not know why, or how, but my mood instantly improved. Such a simple gesture, but I remember it to this day, and I am grateful. Look for the small things…you matter!

    2. Jo

      Hi Peg,
      I too have felt like you, seemingly lost in the grief from the loss of my only daughter and grandson. I too didn’t think it was possible to keep going but nearly two years on, I can finally say that I can move forward, I can enjoy the life I have, my devoted husband, my sisters and my wonderful friends. This has only happened in the last couple of months, keep going Peg it will get easier I promise you.
      I live in the UK and now volunteer once a week for Riding for the Disabled. Absolutely love it! It is wonderful to be needed, and needed by people that appreciate me. No walking on eggshells like I have been doing for what I now realise has been years.
      My daughter has a personality disorder and views the world in a very different way to most people and this we don’t think will ever change.
      Find yourself a counsellor that specifically deals with estrangement. Mine was a godsend and made me realise that I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done anything any differently. I was a good Mom as I am sure you were.
      You will find the good things in life again.

  37. Elizabeth L.

    As the autumn begins, I’m looking forward to being cosy, nights with a hot drink and a contented lap cat.
    Vegetables growing in the raised bed, films to see and like Debbie H, an exciting trip in spring.

  38. Delia H.

    To ease my sadness of estrangement, I try on a daily basis to spend time with God, read scriptures, write down 10 things I’m grateful for. Listen to music (it always makes me feel better). Do yoga at my home. Go for walks, talk to my friends. Enjoy nature and try so hard to live in the moment. Before going to bed I pray that somehow God will help her and bring her back to me. Some days I lose hope, but I try not to stay there. Thank you all for your support. D

    1. Jennifer

      I stand in agreement with ur prayers that ur daughter will come back, in Jesus name. I also do the same thing as you do for my daughter. Thank you for sharing, it helped me know Im not alone. Sending u so much love.
      Lots of love, Jenn

    2. Jennifer

      It is more than 13 years since I have seen my 2 adult daughters. Just now, I was told by my eldest that she has no desire to talk with me and that she is still working through the trauma of her childhood.

      I can respect her choice, because at 64, I am working through the trauma of my childhood.

      Yet, at the time, I wouldn’t have called it ‘trauma’. It’s my now I’m recognising the terrible things that happened to me as I grew up.

      Yet, through all of that, I still loved my family .

      I comfort myself that, maybe my daughter is at least self actualised to be able to identify certain lacks in her life .

      My greatest sin was to be ‘distant’ emotionally. I didn’t know how to be different. However, (and not in anyway defending myself), my children had more consistency than I did .

      Nevertheless, I take responsibility. I pray to God that things may change one day.
      In the meantime, I know that I MUST somehow be able to accept that what is – is .

      I’m glad we have a place here to connect .

    3. Beverly

      My only child, a son, his wife & my twin granddaughters have been estranged from my husband & me. No reasons given. It hurts so much & my husband passed away last year in June. Our son never bothered about coming to his Dad’s memorial. We did & helped our son in many ways; I will never understand he was never thankful for all the ways we helped him & his wife.

  39. Debra H.

    I am coming on 19 years of estrangement with my son. I learned from your Done With Crying book to start living my life again, instead of putting my life on hold waiting. So am happy to say am going on a bucket- list vacation next month.

    1. Elizabeth L.

      Brilliant Debra H. I hope you have a great time.
      Recently I came to the conclusion that before the estrangement , I was waiting around for my daughter to click her fingers so I could run to her every whim.

      Now, dancing to my own tune, great to hear a fellow traveller.

    2. Ilene A.

      Way to go, Debra. I made the same decision to schedule and go on bucket list vacations. I’ll be leaving on my first one this week with friends.

  40. Karen D.

    I’m keenly attuned to other’s feelings. I’m what you call an empath. But on a cheery note, I’m also attuned to nature and animals because they’re so pure and innocent in their own way. Being near the ocean, walking in a park, playing with pets is so good for the soul. It’s something that helps heal a broken heart.

    1. Sarah

      You are so right Karen, my dog is my absolute best friend and always knows when I need him a little bit more, he also discovered my cancer and saved my life. When we go for our forest walks I always feel the calmest that I am ever at and I feel like I breathe in all of the goodness of nature. There are always positives to this world if we look hard enough and with open hearts and minds x

  41. Jessica M.

    I am in the middle of the throes of hell with my oldest daughter and the rest of my family. Estranged I wish there was a stronger word. I am a nurse and I work through the pandemic at the epicenter in New York City. My father died in the middle of it. And I kept going. I find gratitude in the people that I help every day. And I mean that. I try and do the best job I can every day to take care of my ICU patients, and I teach nursing and molds new minds. Those are the only two things I can find gratitude in at the moment

    1. Elizabeth L.

      Probably, like many caregivers ( I, too, am a nurse), you’ve been taken for granted, so doing what gives you happiness, is a great source of energy.

    2. Ann

      Wow, Jessica, you are a remarkable lady!
      I am sorry for your pain. I have two sons who do not speak to me and it is crushing. The small blessing, I have a greater sense of gratitude for the good in my life. It is a bit of a balancing act…looking for the good without giving into the heartache.
      Hang in there,

    3. Ilene A.

      What a positive impact you make on so many people! It’s a shame that your family don’t appreciate you the way others do.

    4. Diane P.

      After reading a lot of these stories, a pattern seems to emerge. 2020 and the pandemic brought emotional changes to families in ways we never saw coming. My son became estranged in August of 2020. We lost two pets and many relatives that year. The sadness forced me to send my husband to the hospital for 72 hour hold. His depression was so bad that he was suicidal. With the wonderful care he got at the hospital, he is happier now. That you got your strength. Your care touches everyone.

  42. Kathy

    I am trying to look for small opportunities to show kindness to others, whether it is a smile, holding a door open, taking a shopping cart back for a person, and even just saying Thank you and acknowledging people. I have also noticed that being present and looking for opportunities in the moment makes it possible and these small actions in a busy world also makes me feel good as a person.

    1. rparents Post author

      Hi Kathy,
      I agree! Just being NICE to other people feels good. Usually, well, often anyway, they will return the smile, say a kind word, etc. It is good to CONNECT with people. What a wonderful thing to look for (ways to show kindness).

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Kelley

      I agree with Sheri.

      However, I would like to suggest replacing the word “nice” with “kind”. I have erased the word “nice” from my vocabulary – it’s overused and often a lazy adjective, i.e. “Your new haircut looks nice” – what does that mean? I find it better to say “Your new haircut really becomes you – your smile is more prevalent now with that shorter style.” Well, you get my drift.

      It is kindness towards others that sparks the heart of others and self. Small deeds from the heart will always bring you joy. Be kind to others and it always comes back ten-fold – maybe not immediately, but when you need it most.

  43. rparents Post author

    Sunny, thank you for sharing this gorgeous, peaceful image of floating on a lake! I could almost hear the ducks softly quacking and see the pretty leaves floating in the glossy water.
    Sheri McGregor

  44. Sunny

    I enjoyed this beautiful autumn day today by kayaking on a serene pond. I noticed the ducks and fall foliage reflecting on the water. It was very peaceful. I treasure the peace I have in my life now. I also follow a lot of nature photographers on social media and people who hike different trails that post pictures. There is a lot of beauty in the world, I keep busy in search of it.

    1. Lisa

      I enjoyed this beautiful day by enjoying a good meal. Being present in the moment. Taking the moment in with all my senses. Focusing on mindfulness. Watching a good show. I focus on self improvement making to do lists that I work hard to achieve. Taking in all the sights sounds and smells of nature. Taking time to meditate and calm my mind so I can feel peace. I connect with the positive people in my life whom nurture me. I remain present and we exchange hugs jokes and stories. I read good interesting books that peak my interest and expand my horizons. I indulge myself in self care. Giving myself new things to look forward and focus on. I enjoyed this profound day and evening by feeling deep gratitude for all the positive things in my life. Focusing on that peace gratitude and mindfulness. Reminding myself that life is like a fine wine. A fine wine I am going to savor deliberately and slowly. Taking in all the flavors smells and sights that it has to offer me. Expanding my horizons by trying new things. Choosing to focus on the positive. Focusing on all the wonderful things that life has so blessed me with. Appreciating everything and expressing that appreciation by taking nothing for granted. I watch videos with cute animals. Whenever possible I watch or listen to comedy. Making time to laugh and smile experiencing every ounce of joy. I find joy and humor in the little things. Some days its light humor other days its dark humor but still humor. There is beauty joy light peace everywhere I look.

    2. Cathy

      That is beautiful. I feel the same way when I garden in pots on my deck or plant things on the property of my cookie cutter subdivision home in Michigan. It’s so fulfilling to get all grubby & dirty then see something take shape. A joy to water the flowers & watch the sun do their thing. My 2 Daughters 26 & 27 never think anything good about their upbringing. I tried my darn hardest to raise them as Godly, College Ed, African American girls with privileges to appreciate & enjoy in life. ‘It amazes me has none of the effort put in to raising them comes out or manifest in a positive way. They constantly tell me everything is not about me. I just can never understand it. My youngest daughter grad from college & became a flight attendant as a gap year fun job. Left her preacher boyfriend & moved in with a boyfriend who left amazon to work in a weed shop. My oldest daughter started dating girls without me really knowing it & was leaving a major university to go be with a girl from a wealthy family but stayed in jail & trouble all of the time. I never get it. Friends that worked all the time & never had time for their kid have kids that go off & do wonderful things, appreciative & loving. I saved $10000 so my youngest daughter could pledge a sorority in college. My Oldest Daughter stole the money & spent it on one of her many girlfriends that she’s lived with. No-one in my family acts like its any big deal. She stole my Mothers jewelry & lied about it to the entire family in a group text & then walked in the house wearing the ring like nobodies business. My Husband & I just celebrated 29 years of marriage & he invited both the girls and my youngest daughter’s boyfriend. Weeks later my youngest daughter said she’s not comfortable bringing her boyfriend if her sister cannot bring her girlfriend janitor from jail. I usually cry & cry and cry over both my daughters. I was the terrible Mom who after paying 100’s for competition cheer wanted my oldest daughter to try out for college cheer but she wanted to be with the girlfriend from jail instead. I have 10K in loans for her that I have no idea how I’ll pay. She crashed 3 cars & got mad when her dad (my husb) said she had to get her own insurance at 27 years old. I was so distraught when they were tweens & my own mom passed of a sudden illness. I usually cry & ask God how he could take both my mom & my daughter from me. It seems so cruel. I see other people raise black kids & they just go to college, have fun & do positive things. My daughter only wants to be with criminals and such. I never understand it I think life is hard enough just being a black woman why do you want to be with people that bring you down when your parents worked for you to succeed. I now have a hard time keeping a job because I’m always depressed & crying. I’m just trying to work for 10 more years and retire but it doesn’t seem like its in the cards for me. I cannot imagine people who have grandkids , fun & normal things.

      I’ve rarely taken the time to thoroughly read these articles. But this one was soooo helpful when you try for just a little peace of mind and mended heart. I like long walks in the autumn air & seeing the colors of the trees, indulging in self care, joining a dance group & trying to find a choir, cooking for just me & filling the house with wonders scents. Sometimes on holidays my husband & I try to mix it up and just do something really different. Go to a festival. Travel. Visit a downtown area when it’s not crowded and just walk around. I saw a therapist who said grieve what is lost & cherish what remains.

      Thanks Lisa for all your beautiful thoughts as well.


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