April is Stress Awareness Month – Part 6

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

From a Parent’s Perspective

Stage 5 | Anger

Anger is the reaction to an unpleasant situation. It is a normal emotion and frequently occurs in the everydayness of life. The anger resulting from estrangement runs deep – much more profound than the everyday kind. This one is the ugly cousin of shame and blame. This anger is volatile, yet, it can also be quietly simmering beneath the surface, waiting to explode.

During the estrangement process, anger is necessary. It is anger with oneself, a child, a spouse or former spouse, family, friends, and even God. Anger that questions the estrangement and the role others may or may not have played to either lead to the estrangement or to support and encourage it. Did a parent do all they could do to prevent this? Did a spouse (or former spouse) encourage counseling? Did family members disown the estranged parent or intervene? Was there a feeling of hopelessness? Or did you not do enough or do too much?

Could have, should have, would have. Just maybe I could have done something to have stopped this estrangement. I ask myself how could a father encourage their child to stop speaking to their mother? I am so angry, my blood is boiling. Then, there are the grandparents and aunts and uncles who no longer are “allowed” to speak to me. It is a hot mess. I am bearing the pain. All by myself. It is unbearable.

A mother’s perspective

The Anger stage can include a loss of purpose in life. A parent may feel hopeless and helpless. Even though thoughts of murder, suicide, and kidnapping may occur, one cannot act upon them. Life is worth living; don’t give up. This anger phase involves questioning oneself and others, which is necessary for healing. It is vital to vent by deep breathing, talking to a therapist or friend, exercising, or alleviating the stress that builds from the anger during this anger stage.

Artist Credit: Fons Heijnsbroek

From a Child’s Perspective

Stage 5 | Denial/Rationalization

At this stage, another person may be encouraging the estrangement and wish it to continue. A spouse or a close friend. Someone who wants to destroy the original relationship for their own gain or power and control.

Life is so busy right now. I have two little kids who demand my time and energy. I have no energy left to deal with my parents. My wife believes my parents are toxic. It is troubling to me; yet I want to make her happy. Honestly, I can take or leave my parents. I follow my wife’s lead.

A child’s perspective

Individuals in this stage fight their emotions and natural instincts to reconnect. Repetitive messages remind them that this course of action is the best. Reconnecting with the person they are estranged from would open up past wounds and be futile. Their minds try to convince them they are on the right path. Keeping their parent out of their life will be better for them. This is a precarious stage. If an unforeseen situation occurs or an unplanned crossing of paths by either a neutral or estranged person, reconnection is possible.

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
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Thanks so much for your support!

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