Q: I haven’t seen my granddaughter for the past 7 months [...]
We need to self protectCreated by Jane Jackson in No contact
Since I set up the support group for grandparents who are denied contact with their grandchildren due to family breakdown, I have spoken to well over one thousand grandparents who are so distressed, sad, angry and totally bewildered.
There are grandparents who have raised their grandchildren from birth for several years, only to have them taken out of their lives. There are grandparents who have lost an adult child prematurely, only to have the children of their adult child also taken from them, there are many ways that we find ourselves being denied contact. Families as we all know have their ups and downs, we can’t agree all the time, but what on earth happens to produce this heartbreaking situation?
I don’t sadly have the answer, if I did I would tell you and then it all could be put right.
There is no doubt that sometimes as grandparents we think we are entitled to say things, maybe criticise the way our sons or daughters are bringing up our grandchildren, but we are not entitled to do that. We have to allow our children to bring up their children in the way they see fit , they have to make the mistakes we made. Who is to say we did everything right? I know I didn’t.
When you run a support group it is just that, a group giving support, it is not for me to be judgemental in any way, but to be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. I never know who is at the end of that call or email but what I did not expect was to have grandparents contacting me who are suicidal, who feel that they can no longer face life without their grandchildren in their lives. That is the reality and it is so important that people understand how catastrophic this can be.
We all know that when things go wrong in our lives it is so easy to go down the dark spiral out of control, we have to think of ways to put the brakes on. I tell all grandparents that we have to learn how to self protect.
It is vital that we keep ourselves healthy both physically and emotionally, those of us who have other family members around us need to understand that they still need us, they still love us and it breaks their hearts to see us suffering so badly.
Those who don’t have family still need to self protect, they have friends who need them and love them as well.
As far as looking after ourselves physically, means to eat well and to keep active. That doesn’t mean we all have to go off to the gym, but make yourself go for a walk every day, even if its raining, get out in the fresh air, smile at people you pass. Its possible that smile is the only smile someone has seen for days. Do the garden, communing with nature is such good therapy, watching plants grow and flowers bloom lifts anyone’s spirits.
The emotional side may be a little bit more difficult, we can get so engrossed in our own pain that we feel unable to function on everyday tasks. You do have to make the effort. Do something completely different go to an art class, do photography learn a new skill. It is about focussing on something positive rather than allowing the negatives to control you. You take control.
Above all else, keep those memories alive, write about your grandchildren maybe in a journal, write letters to them ( you don’t have to post them) always believe in hope.
I am at the end of that phone, email and Skype for those times you want to unload.
Remember you are not alone.