Go on, break it. Break another little piece of my heart.
Great piece, Don. Something I’ve been navigating with my parents. It’s never easy, and it is a constant reminder to be gracious. If healing is the goal, nothing is helped by carrying resentment. I’m reminded that as a child, I was watching my parents grow up, too.
It was shocking to me when I worked in nursing homes as a hospice chaplain how many frail elders were estranged from their families, how many people had no visitors. Sometimes, the residents were people I found delightful. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to abandon them. Clearly, I didn't know the whole story.
In my family, my wife felt she had to cut off from her sister in order to stop her issues from driving us crazy, and she's much happier as a result. At first I didn't like it, it ran completely counter to my approach to relationships (prioritizing obligation and always trying to mediate), but I've come to accept it as the best thing given the situation.
I'm happy that my parents didn't experience estrangement from any of their 5 kids. Their parents didn't experience it either, though there was a cold distance toward the parents. I hear others talk about the estrangement in their families though and see the heartbreak of it.
Well written, Don. Thank you.
Great analysis, Don. I've been following this story, too, and I'm horrified. It's one thing when parents were abusive, but the definition of abusive now extends to "they don't share my politics". I hate that there's a one-size-fits-all template to excuse estrangement.
Another good article, Don. I’ve definitely had to limit contact with a parent to keep my head above water during other crises. That said, I feel no guilt over it as I was the kid who stayed close (my brothers live far away) and was uber-present until 2 years ago. As caregiver to a whole circuit of people for decades, my indivualism has become a matter of survival. That said, my sense of duty runs deep and “limited contact” is what I’ve chosen. Barring emergencies, I won’t be leaving empty spaces at my parents’ place over the holidays. Thanks for the food for thought.
I have experienced estrangement with siblings and a child. It is painful. Especially if you believed you acted with good intentions and tried to do the best you could, even under difficult circumstances. But if the impasse continues, you have to eventually stop beating yourself up and move on.