Well, the holiday season has begun.

There is a hole in my heart, yes. Everyday, I try to fill this hole. In the past, when the holidays arrived, I felt like I was just putting a finger in the dyke. But this year I’m determined to forego the wallowing that I’ve indulged in during previous holidays. I’ve simply had enough. I have lovely plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas and I am sharing them with many friends.

I’m well aware of what the pitfalls are: I start waking up too early in the morning with a heavy feeling. I can’t get back to sleep because my thoughts are racing and I begin to obsess. If I allow myself to continue with negative thoughts about my son and grandchildren, depression and despair will ensue. So, as safeguards, I have some compensators in place, such as structuring my days so that I don’t spend too much time alone. I’m learning to fill myself up with myself – in a good way.

Many of my friends are excitedly anticipating visits from their children and grandchildren. They are shopping for them, planning meals and activities. I do my best to share their happiness and I am genuinely delighted for them. I want the same for myself, but I can’t have it.

I have no idea what to get my grandchildren for Christmas. I always acknowledge them on special days, and as far as I know, they receive the cards and gifts that I send, (which is truly mystifying, since I can’t see them but I can send them things…). I could text my son and ask him, but why? We rarely communicate and my instinct is to leave him alone. If he wants to communicate with me, I’ve learned to let him initiate contact.

I need to relax. I’ve already done too much damage to my heart, body, mind and soul. I have to take the focus off my son and his family and look to myself. I don’t know how much time I have left on this earth and I want it to matter.

My life hasn’t turned out the way I dreamed it would, but that’s okay, really. There have been many tragedies and sorrows in my life, but there have been many blessings and much grace as well. When I take the focus off the heartache and grief, I recognize the many gifts in my life. And that just has to be enough.

18 thoughts on “Holidays”

  • I feel very lucky to have found this blog because I think it might help me get through this difficult time. I have been going through all the same issues with my daughter in law over a 10 year period. Almost all the same abuse and I too just tried to ignore it and continue to walk on eggshells. My daughter in law seems to be okay with my husband but not me. I was kept around long enough to help them build a house and babysit until my grandchildren were school age. 2 years ago we were both cut off and last year were told not to buy gifts or send any communication. Last week our son met with my husband at my husband’s request. My husband wanted to find a path forward by going to mediation. My son refused but said a counsellor had suggested that my son and husband should be able to see each other without me. Hard to believe any counsellor would think that would be possible. Our son was very upset but firm about no path forward. My husband refused so we are now without hope. Although I’ve seen this coming for a long time, the finality is devastating! Our other son has tried to talk to him about a path forward but he too has been rejected. They have only seen each other’s family 3 times since the second son’s daughter was born in 2018, so they have been gradually cut off too. HOW SAD!! I look forward to reading your thoughts on moving forward and away from my grief. Amazing how many people are dealing with this!

    • Hello, Cheryl and thanks for your comment. Yes, it is amazing how many parents and grandparents are experiencing this nightmare of estrangement. It also boggles my mind how our sons could be so influenced and manipulated by a woman to the point of discarding his own mother. I’m sorry you’re having this problem – believe me, I understand! I hope the blog helps you. If so, you might consider reading my book, “Banished – A Grandmother Alone.” It’s a good idea to have lots support and encouragement at this time.You can also write to me at You’re not alone!

  • I can relate to everyone on what’s being posted here. I am being alienated from my only granddaughter, by my own daughter, who is using her child as a pawn in her evil agenda. I started researching the web for help in this matter and found an action association back in Aug., 2013, that I have become active in. Support groups are always helpful to meet our emotional needs, but they don’t solve the problem at hand. Grandparents’ Rights Association of the United States is a non-profit association, which is growing rapidly throughout the country. I am the state representative for 1 of 34 states involved. We work with legislators to amend the Grandparents’ rights laws. Some of the members in our association have been successful in amending the laws, which has given grandparents access to their grandchildren when they thought all hope was lost. If you would like to join us in our mission, you can find us at this link: or you can contact our founder, John Shafer, @ (864) 855-3860.

    I strongly encourage all grandparents to join us in our effort. All hope is NOT lost unless you fail to do whatever it takes to make a change. Ask yourself how much your grandchildren mean to you. I know mine is my world, and I will NOT give up until I am able to see her, again! God bless you all!

  • I think Nancy is an exceptionally talented and powerful voice for a family dysfunction that
    can be, must be rectified by legislative action and social awareness. Small oppressed
    minorities have made earth-shattering advances by banning together, making noise,
    bringing the issue to the attention of the most amount of people in hard-hitting documentaries,
    movies, declaring national days of reflection on their issue, TV interviews, pressuring
    Dr. Phil to hold programs exposing the situation, refusing to take no from their legislators
    to propose laws,etc. Victory in a modern society connected on so many communication
    platforms is all about putting all the negativity in your rear pocket and proceeding
    to act as if there was no obstacle to what you want. Think big. Refuse to be defeated.
    Imagine what a formidable force you can create if you motivate and communicate with
    “senior America”, the largest demographic in the country. Get grandma and grandpa on
    your side and you will dominate the media’s attention…and that’s how you win in today’s
    Smart Phone,tablet, Android tweeting,texting,facebooking techno-obsessed society.
    Get busy on the national stage and change the world for grandparents denied access
    to their grandkids. The movie Kramer vs Kramer not only won an Oscar, it shined a
    giant light on the effect of divorce on children and ushered in an avalanche of
    legislation,protection and awareness that has protected millions of young people
    for the rest of their lives. You’ve got that same issue. Frame your issue with what
    Americans will stand and cheer for: broken families,torn apart by abuse,drugs,alcohol
    and crime need grandma and grandpa to right their ship……GO,Go,Go…

  • I had a very bad few days around Christmas. On the Friday after, I had a huge cry. Crying is not something I do except in extreme circumstances. Afterward, I decided to go on with my life. I called and visited friends, had people over for New Year’s Eve, watched “The Honeymooners” New Year’s day with my husband and laughed a lot. I’m better at the moment. I’m sure the dark feelings will come back, but I also think I will get through them again. I hope that everyone else contributing comments will, too. Thank you for helping me.

    • Rawo, give yourself permission to cry. Estrangement from your children / grandchildren is very sad. In some ways it is harder than a death; if your loved one dies, they did not choose to leave you. We are in a situation where our loved ones CHOSE this awful absence. I think a good cry and a good laugh are both very therapeutic. Of course, it is not good to stay in the dark place. . . .

  • I actually think a grief support group is a good idea. I also read several books on grief and found them helpful. Estrangement is a ‘death’ of sorts: the death of a dream, the death of what you had hoped would be a wonderful experience with your grandchildren, and more.
    It’s a heartbreaking loss that requires help, insight and courage. I say, find all the help and support you can, do your inner work by meditating, praying and doing whatever brings you peace.

  • Thank you, twotwolala. It really is sad that there are so many of us in the same or very similar situations, although it helps to have the support of people who can understand the pain. If a family member died, there’d be plenty of comfort from the outside, but this is a grief that is hidden. I did finally have the courage Sunday during the prayer request part of the service to ask for prayers for me and my husband as we suffer the pain of a family estrangement.
    Thank you again for all the support I get from this site. It does help.

    • There have been times that I wondered if a Grief support group would be helpful! I am joking, but it is indeed a loss, but in the case of a death there is no choice. In our situations, our kids “choose” to leave

  • My husband and I tried calling our son Christmas morning, but had to leave voice mail. He won’t pick up. We told him we love him, his wife, and our granddaughter, and wished them a happy Christmas. We hoped all day he would call us back. A couple of days ago I sent him an email telling him how heartbroken we are and that what he’s doing is cruel to all of us–something I hadn’t done before. Definitely not the right think to do, though, but I haven’t been able to bear the pain. Neither my husband nor I are sleeping well, and a black cloud has been hanging over us. Even happy moments are tainted.
    Finally, as I was driving home from doing an errand this morning, I burst out crying and couldn’t stop. When I got home, I went back to this website and have been reading everything. I am calmer now, and hope to have a better day. Thank you for inspiring me to try harder accept this thing I can’t change. I am going to write some cards this afternoon to people who are ill or could use some cheering up.

    • Rawo, your words go right to my heart. The only solution (save a miracle turnaround of your son) is to surrender your sadness to God, or your Higher Power. You cannot be in charge, it hasn’t worked so far, right? Download some of your favorite tv comedies from Hulu or Youtube. It is a short term solution, but it has worked for me. I cannot force my own mind to go where I want it to, but mindless comedy helps. Afterwards, I feel better. Reading the Bible helps me too.

      I DO get to see my grandkids, in a very limited fashion, and this helps enormously. My son, though, has removed himself from us emotionally, physically and pretty much every other way. Sometimes I think if I saw no one from his family at all, it would be easier. This just keeps picking the scab.

      The night after Christmas, I slept like a baby because Christmas was over!! I wish peace for you and your husband.

  • My sister advised me that I don’t have to stop being a good mother. I’ve tried to reach out to my son, and I’ve sent cards and notes to my granddaughter–I don’t think she’s getting them–and today I wrapped christmas presents for all of them, which I’ll mail tomorrow. At least I know I’m doing all I can. Volunteering at a holiday party for homeless families the other evening gave me a good feeling. I think this is the secret–but sometimes it’s hard.

  • Shirley, I have been in a similar situation for many years. It ebbs and flows. At the moment we do have limited access, and my grandkids know me enough to love me. What helps us is to surrender the temptation to focus on an outcome, any outcome. Live for the day, and fill it with friends who care about you. Don’t talk about your troubles, soon it becomes a downer. Thank God for this Blog!

    • Thanks so much for your comments. I’m sorry that you all are experiencing estrangement and limited or no access to your grandchildren. I absolutely agree with Linda that we must detach from outcome and live in the ‘now’ of today. That’s all we really have anyway, and to allow ourselves to be constantly miserable because our children have behaved badly is a terrible disservice to our hearts, minds, bodies and souls.
      Surrender to what is. Be of good cheer and let yourself experience the wonder of this holiday season. Have faith that life, God, the universe or whatever you believe in, supports you and that what whatever is for your soul’s highest good will prevail.
      You are in my prayers.

  • I am very sad for you, Shirley. I think it’s even more heartbreaking than my own situation because your granddaughters are so young. I had ten years of a loving relationship with my granddaughter, even though she lives more than a thousand miles away. At least tomorrow I will see my three older grandchildren, who are ages 16, 19, and 22.
    It probably helps to know you are not alone, although it makes me feel so bad to know that so many other people are suffering as I am.

  • We are in the same situation – we have suggested mediation – all letters and cards are returned. Our granddaughters are 2 and a half and four months,we don`t know them – we spend the holidays alone – the other grandmother has seven grandchildren under four. We believe she is the cause of all our heartaches – a healthy atmosphere to grow up in.!! They are the only grandchildren we will ever have – my dreams have been shattered

  • Thank you so much for posting today. I have been quite depressed lately over my estrangement with my son. It started again in earnest when I sent them a Thanksgiving card. My sister had said that I don’t have to stop being a good mother just because he is being a bad son right now, so I wrote a card. It has been about nine months since I’ve had any contact with my ten-year-old granddaughter or my daughter-in-law, whom I love. (I’ve written here before about this.) In the card I asked how my granddaughter is. Is she still playing the piano? How is her swimming going? And school? After I asked these questions, my missing her came back full force. I stopped sleeping well, I cry, I feel that huge hole that you describe, I’ve been getting sick. I have reached out to my son via email, saying I love him; that my husband and I want our son back.
    Tomorrow we are going to spend Thanksgiving with my daughters and three older children. My daughters apparently condone my son’s behavior and say it’s up to me to fix things. No matter what I do and how hard I try, though, nothing hasn’t worked.
    Thank you for sharing your experience. I feel bad for you and all the others who are also in this situation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *