All of us moms with estranged or strained relationships with our adult kids know that it can be a lonely road. We think we're the only ones going through this. That friends and family don't understand.
But lately I've had a few things happen that have caused me to question if we sometimes contribute to our feelings of isolation.
A few examples:
I recently met another estranged mom socially, and she told me that she's been estranged for decades longer than I have, so I'm in the early stages and don't understand. (She didn't know that I'm a coach and this is what I live and do all day.)
I met a mom who had a child die, and during our conversation the grief of estrangement was dismissed, as compared with the grief of death.
Another mom told me that her pain is much worse than others' because she has been estranged by all 3 of her children and has been cut off from her 5 grandchildren.
You probably see the theme. So much comparison. So much focus on the differences. So much feeling like we can't possibly understand one another. So much feeling alone in our journey.
Every life and situation is unique. No doubt about that.
But with these moms there is a commonality: grief.
Grief, like any emotional experience, is also entirely unique. Some people will experience grief for decades, others for days. Some will take the estrangement of one child much harder than someone else might take the estrangement of many.
Even death - the funny thing about the conversation I had with the woman who lost her child to death, was that the next day I spoke with a woman whose husband died young. She said that to her, death is not the worst thing. When I asked her what was worse, she said what I'm going through - estrangement.
To me, there's no right or wrong in any of this. It's not black and white. The severity or intensity of another person's experience can't be judged or compared.
It depends on how a mom thinks about a loss that defines her experience. And we're all different.
What if instead of looking for the differences in our losses, or comparing our grief as "easier" or "worse," what if we focused more on what we do share?
Estranged or not, we share a human journey that will always include loss and grief. We share changing family dynamics. We share that every life includes struggles, challenges, and growth.
When we look for our similarities - on purpose - can we feel less alone? I think it's possible.
And I think that matters for us moms when we're going through loss. Proving to ourselves that we're alone doesn't make our journey one bit easier. Shifting the way we look at our perceived isolation can ease that painful layer of estrangement. It's worth a try!
If you'd like to learn more about estrangement you can watch a free video here.
Hope that helps, strong mamas!