April is Stress Awareness Month – Part 1

“Two Estranged Friends Renew Their Argument,” by Patrick O’Donnell. 2011, (photographed by Jeff Dykes – Edited by Anonymous).

Estrangement is Stressful – Part 1

Deviating from the norm of this blog, writings will be shared over the next few weeks to bring light and hope to families experiencing the gut-wrenching experience of estrangement. Estrangement is when one person stops speaking and responding to another person. It could be siblings. It could be friends. It could be extended family members. It could be a child from a parent. In these writings, over the next few weeks, the focus will be on the experience of a mother whose son went “no contact” to her and her family. The original article of The 8 Stages of Estrangement can be found on this blog, dated April 2022. This year includes how a child may feel from their perspective to bring awareness to both sides of estrangement.

The 8 Stages of Estrangement
Looking at Both Sides of a Coin


Estrangement is not normal, so the rules of normalcy do not apply. There are eight stages of estrangement. For this series of writings, a child refers to any child at any age, including teenagers, young adults, and older adult children. The estrangement in this writing is from a personal experience, a mother from a son. The audience of these writings is “good-enough” parents and children. Not children raised by parents who suffered from addictions were alcoholics or regularly abused their children. Nor to parents who raised mentally ill children, drug addicts, or who were excessively abusive. These words are offered to middle- to upper-middle-class families who, for no apparent reason other than divorce, caused a child to abandon one or both of their parents.

I know the depth of my love for my child and the void in my heart. I feel the intensity of pain that never seems to go away.
I ask myself why?
Why me?
Why my child?

A parent’s perspective

Estrangement is loss. It is grief. It is a relationship that once was and is no longer.

I finally feel free!
I no longer have to deal with my crazy mother.
My father told me she was crazy and she sure was!
She smothered me.
I couldn’t breathe.
I felt forced into so many activities, I was exhausted.

A child’s perspective

These writings will use the five stages of grief as a springboard to define the estrangement process. There is plenty of information on the internet regarding grief. According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, experiencing what she describes as five stages of grief, regardless of order or even vacillating between each one, will lead to healing. Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief are:

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

In estrangement, similar components are necessary for dealing with, healing, and moving forward. These stages can be interchangeable and ebb and flow between, forward, and backward from each of the eight steps. This process can take years or even decades to complete in estrangement. The eight stages of estrangement (from the parent’s perspective) are:

1. Denial
2. Acceptance Part I
3. Rejection
4. Shame & Blame
5. Anger
6. Acceptance Part II
7. Fear
8. Healing

From the child’s perspective, the one who is doing the estranging are:

1. Shame & Blame
2. Rejection
3. Anger
4. Acceptance Part 1
5. Denial/Rationalization
6. Fear
7. Acceptance Part 2
8. Healing

Author’s Note: Estrangement caused me to feel unloved, and I knew I needed to love myself before I could love others again. From my experience in participating in support groups with other estranged parents, there is a choice to make. You can choose to blame, distrust, and be bitter. Or, you can choose to love and heal yourself, from this incredibly harrowing experience, by opening up to others. It’s up to you. A special thank you to Kathryn Kollowa, EdD, MSN, RN for her feedback and added insights incorporated in this most recent update.

If you gained insight into estrangement, please like and comment.
(This is my “call to action” I’m supposed to include in every post and often forget.)

Thanks so much for your support!

2 thoughts on “April is Stress Awareness Month – Part 1”

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