Christmas Day with my husband and children was so wonderful. However this post from a friend touched my heart and reminded me about the sweet and bitter of Christmas.
“Advent, like grief, is such a keen time, loaded with expectations and longings for impossible things. Advent is audacious with hope; it is pregnant with miracle. Which is why, I believe, it’s also haunted with the inconsolable sting of the way things ought to be. More than any other season of the year, perhaps, we feel our loss and our lack; we grieve alike for things that are no more and things that never have been. We all want our own Christmas miracle, our own personal annunciation and supernatural fulfillment.” by Lanier Ivestor
My father passed away in 2007. I miss him and always will. Especially during the holidays. My mother has advanced dementia and is in a nursing home. I miss who she used to be. My siblings are estranged. After trying for years to reconcile them my husband asked me to give up and move on. It was difficult to accept their situation because they attend church every week. Yet I wondered for years how they can attend church, pray, tithe, and choose not to reconcile.
In my family estrangement is a pattern for almost 100 years. My father was estranged from his father all of his life. It was accepted by other family members even though no one understood why. According to my father no one seemed to question it enough to confront it. My father lived with the pain of estrangement his entire life.
There are grown children in my family who don’t speak to their parents. The result is grandparents who never see their grandchildren. I don’t understand the details but I hurt for all of them. How wonderful if I could do something to aid reconciliation. But I am at a loss.
Family estrangement is larger than conflict and more complicated than betrayal. People must desire to reconcile. If estrangement is chosen as in my family it is almost impossible to resolve without a huge God miracle. Unfortunately people choose bitterness over forgiveness all too often.
Estrangement is something that many don’t speak about. I have seen the profound effect on virtually every aspect of life, causing depression, relationship problems, and even physical illness. At 4 years old my son’s pediatrician attributed being suddenly ostracized by my older sister as cause of his illness. He adored her and they were very close. She lived in our neighborhood and it broke his heart to see her drive by and not stop or wave back as he fanatically called her name.
In the new year I hope to finish my book addressing the pain and shame connected with family rifts and offer a way through the crisis and on toward healing and fulfillment. Every rift will not be mended but my book will offer ways to recover from any outcome. There can be peace and acceptance. You can build a second family of people. You can recover from the isolation of family exile. I will share my father’s story and my own as well as many other people who have family estrangement. My prayer is that my healing will help other people. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for an advanced copy or request it at your local bookstore. I will also be sharing occasional blog postings from the book here.