Ways for Coping with the Loss of an Estranged Parent

Millions of Americans experience the loss of an estranged parent or family member, which is why it’s essential to explore Ways for Coping with the Loss of an Estranged Parent. In this article, you’ll find strategies to help you navigate the grief and find healing.

Most people think of death when they consider grief. The concept and action are complementary. Nonetheless, some mourn the living. Some mourn family before they die, while others, such as me, mourn those who are still alive. I mourned my mum for years before her death. Although the explanation is personal and intricate, I am not alone despite the personal and complicated nature of my explanation. At least 27% of Americans are estranged from a member of their family. However, what does it look like to say goodbye to living parents? How does one mourn the loss of a distant relative?

We sought the opinions of a number of professionals. This is what they stated.

What Is Family Disconnection?

When at least one family member removes themselves from another, estrangement happens. This may occur for a variety of reasons. Due to personality difficulties, some persons “retrench.” Narcissism is a prime instance. Some view physical distance as a barrier, with distance acting as a literal and metaphorical wedge. Growing up in a violent environment is another cause of parental estrangement.

What Is the Cause?

Several circumstances can “create” familial estrangement, particularly between parents and children, including:

  • Mental sickness.
  • Addiction
  • Abuse as a child.
  • Grave disregard or insensitivity.
  • Parenting that is rigid, controlling, or abusive.
  • Distant parenting.
  • Alienation
  • Negativity
  • Family competition or strife.
  • Lies or manipulation.
  • Narcissism
  • Physical separation.

Some people become estranged from their parents as a result of their religious beliefs, political convictions, and/or sexual orientation; other causes include the influence of a third party, such as a domineering or abusive spouse, and a substantial divergence in values.

Why Is Grieving the Loss Of A Living Parent So Difficult?

Grief is a complex experience, but grieving linked with the loss of a still-living someone, particularly a still-living parent, is uniquely complicated. PsychPoint’s certified mental health counselor GinaMarie Guarino explains, “Grieving the death of a still-living parent is complicated since the absence of a parent can be perplexing, distressing, and/or difficult to accept.” It may result in feelings of abandonment, rejection, sadness, and shame. Guarino says that guilt is another prevalent emotion.

Kara Nassour, a licensed professional counselor, adds, “Grieving for an estranged parent is especially difficult because our culture is quick to blame children for the loss of the relationship.” “We frequently receive messages such as ‘When was the last time you phoned your mother?’ and ‘I’m sure they still love you,’ from strangers who are unaware of the complexity of our relationships… Nonetheless, adult children rarely sever ties with their parents unless it is an absolute necessity.”

It is a real and painful loss that should not be diminished or dismissed, according to Nassour, who adds, “This type of grieving is extremely challenging because it is rarely recognized as sadness.”

Obviously, it should be noted that not everyone will share this opinion. Others find estrangement to be liberating, while others feel it to be a breath of fresh air. They discover contentment and serenity in their “loss.” Know that your reaction is normal and acceptable.

How Does One Cope with Distancing from a Parent or Other Family Member?

Remember that you are not alone if you find yourself coping with the loss of a still alive parent. Even if you began the estrangement, you might find yourself in a terrible situation. Emotions can be both intense and overwhelming. Yet, you are not required to navigate it on your own. Nassour suggests reaching out to others for support and an ear.

“Reach out to others who will listen to your experiences without passing judgment, such as friends, family members, and support groups. See a therapist and read books on parents with mental health issues like addiction, abuse, or personality disorders to help put your experiences in perspective.” Having someone you can confide in at this trying time can provide the necessary support to get through it.

Obviously, you can also do other things. According to Nassour, you can build appropriate boundaries with your parents and others via practice. They should reflect (and safeguard) your requirements. Also, they should be clear and forceful. You can and should remind yourself that you are not accountable for your parents’ acts, behaviors, or well-being. They are grownups. They cannot be controlled or altered. In addition, it is essential to identify your emotions and accept that you are exactly where you need to be. Sorrow is not sequential. There is no correct or incorrect method to cope with this loss.

“Allow yourself time to grieve and time to feel,” advises Nassour, “whether it’s sadness, irritation, embarrassment, or relief.” “You are not a horrible person for experiencing such emotions. You are merely a person who requires time to recover.”

Leanna Stockard, a relationship and family therapist at LifeStance Health, adds, “Allowing yourself the opportunity to grieve and experience your emotions is crucial.” Your feelings are valid, and it is acceptable to feel the way you do about the circumstance.

Meaningful articles you might like: Family Picture Taking, 7 Scientifically Proven Advantages of Eating as a Family, 7 Family-Friendly Beach Vacation Spots