The FCI blog received a reader question regarding coping with the loss of an alienated child, and addressing the issue with a sibling child and other family members.
Readers please leave your thoughts, tips and advice to support parents going through this very painful loss.
Deanna writes: “Once you have a child that is alienated from an entire family
How do you propose the family deal with the loss?
And how do we help our younger children deal with the loss of a sibling?”
The loss of a child due to alienation is just as painful as if the child has died, and in my experience, you go through the very same grieving process. This type of loss is called “Ambiguous Loss” mean it is a loss that happens suddenly, and without explanation, and remains unresolved or there is no opportunity for closure.
Every person, and family, deals with the loss differently. There is no right or wrong way. What is most important is finding ways to offer you support, and assist in your grief in a way that is meaningful for you.
Tips on Dealing with Ambiguous Loss:
When dealing with the loss of my children, it also helped tremendously to find a way to honor my children, and keep them a part of my life even though they are not with me. I did alot of volunteering because it gave me a way to use my mothering, and express what I valued most about being with family, in another setting. For example when working at a clubhouse for disabled adults I enjoyed cooking meals for potlucks or playing games with clients. Church was also really helpful for me because it offered messages of hope, and stories of people overcoming incredible challenges.. and gave me a strength I did not have inside of my self. So be open to trying new outlets to channel what is meaningful to you about your child or your role as a parent. Or be open to find support in creative places.
One tip – you do NOT have to tell anyone your story if you do not feel comfortable, and it may even make you vulnerable to do so. It’s ok to keep your story private and use generic expressions when asking for help such as “I’m going through a loss” or “I have experienced grief” or “I’m needing support for a challenging I’m going through”. Also many community support groups are anonymous, and it’s ok to use a nickname or anonymous name if you feel more comfortable.
As far as younger children, what I did when my son was grieving the loss of his siblings is find books or movies to tell him what is going on in a child friendly way, and let him know I understood his feelings.
The best movie I found was “Elmo in Grouchland”. The villain in the story, Huxley, steals Elmo’s blanket, and takes it to another world and away from Elmo. Elmo grieves the loss of his blanket. And then goes on an epic adventure to get it back.
It felt easier to talk about the loss of my son’s siblings when comparing it to the loss of Elmo’s blanket. That Huxley had problems sharing so he took the blanket away, and that made Elmo sad. I said that my ex also had problems with sharing so he wasn’t letting us see your siblings, and we also feel sad. But just like Elmo worked hard to get his blanket back, mommy was also working hard to be able to spend more time with your siblings. And that might not happen right away but your brother and sister love you, and know we love them.
Another book that is really helpful is “The Kissing Hand”. The book is about a young raccoon that misses his mother when he goes to school so the Mother raccoon gives him reassurance by kissing his paw, and placing the paw on his face to remember her love.
At night, I would read my son the book and then we’d kiss our hand, and through it out the window imagining that it would reach his brother and sister. It comforted my son to know he could do something, and that somewhere his siblings were getting his kiss.
Anyone else have any tips for dealing with a child that is alienated from the family? Please post in comments.