The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Many Sides of Estrangement

During the last several years, I have had the opportunity to correspond with many individuals suffering from the effects of family estrangement. I’ve learned much through this experience.

I've heard of many different circumstances causing a family cut-off: disapproval of choice of mate, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, career choice's, money, addictions, abuse, in-laws......Usually, the cause of the family rift has been building for years without adequate communication. Then, a single event "appears" to have caused the rift.

My heart breaks for anyone dealing with the anguish of family cut-offs. I’ve heard from inconsolable parents whose adult children refuse to see them, and adult children who have been rejected by a parent. Some estrangements involve siblings, whole families, or one person ostracized from the rest of the family. No matter the “side” or the circumstances, I identify with our common thread – the void – a hole in our hearts where our family members used to be.

I can relate to other adult children who have been rejected by a parent or who feel orphaned after making the painful decision to sever an abusive relationship. Yet, not all estrangements are the result of abuse. I can also empathize with the pain parents express who have been rejected by an adult child and don’t understand why. As a mother myself, I can’t think of anything more painful than to lose a child under any circumstances. No matter the cause of the family rift, cut-offs are excruciating stuff! We all express the same emotions; hurt, anger, sadness, blame, fear, disbelief……

A few estrangement resources available on the web:

Healing Estranged Relationships, Inc.

Joshua Coleman, Ph.D.

Mark Sichel, LCSW

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