A Brand New Day

Humanity Inspired

Why Won’t They Talk To Me?

One of the most emotional issues that I hear about from my clients time & time again involves the loss of a relationship of a son, daughter, grandchild, brother, sister or a close family member.  Sometimes it is with a close friend.  This type of loss is one that comes out of nowhere.  Slaps the client up the side of their head without warning.  It is the sudden “cut off” or distancing of that family member or friend who suddenly won’t answer phone calls, texts, emails & ceases to visit or show up at family dinners & events. Eventually the client gets some type of message by way of text, email or a message by way of another family member/friend from the lost loved one letting them know that they don’t want anything more to do with them.  A range of emotions take over the client including panic, sadness, confusion, guilt, remorse &/or anger.  The client starts berating themselves for whatever they did (which they usually have no idea of what they did) to cause their loved one to disappear out of their life.  This is especially hard if the distancing person is an adult child and who usually takes their grandchild(ren) out of their life as well.  The angst of the loss is profound, deep & very painful.

An intense grieving process begins much like it is with the physical death of a loved one. It is extremely difficult for the client to understand why they wouldn’t want to continue to be part of the family or be in the friendship or to continue to be the invested, connected son, daughter, brother, sister like they have always been.  Sometimes there are warning signs such as the adult child telling their parent what bothers them in the relationship & other times healthy communication is either suppressed or not there denying the opportunity for the two to have a healthy discussion to problem solve the issue(s) before it gets to the point of “cut off”.

Perhaps the abandoned client will use the “cut off” as a learning experience & do some soul searching into their behaviors that pushed the loved one away.  In this way, much personal growth occurs & can prepare that person for the return of their loved one with more compassion & acceptance in their renewed relationship.  Perhaps the abandoned client will focus only on their anger & remain in a victim mentality.  This type of reaction only keeps the abandoned client emotionally stuck & the loved one from wanting to return for a fresh start.

Sometimes there is no answer & the abandoned client lives the rest of their life confused & deeply hurt.  It is extremely hard for the client to realize that the loved one that “cut off” has issues of their own that caused them to leave the relationship.  It will be important for the client to go through a process of forgiving that person & building a new life around the loss of the loved one.  Again much like that of a physical death of a loved one.

As a therapist, it is one of the saddest issues to facilitate a healing process with a client.  There are good reasons for family members to “cut off”.  These can include emotional & physical abuse, emotional & financial manipulation or dependency, unfair treatment, lack of expression of love, extreme differences of opinions or beliefs to name a few. Addiction is also a powerful force that pushes loved ones away.  If it is a friendship perhaps one friend outgrew the other friend emotionally or spiritually & doesn’t feel the connection any more.  However, no matter what the reason is it is sad that the persons involved can’t see the forest for the trees & come together to preserve the family or the friendship.

If you are fortunate to be able to engage your lost loved one with the intention of healing & preserving the relationship, family therapy or mediation therapy are highly recommended.  Therapy can provide a safe place for the people involved to air out their feelings & differences & find ways to mend the relationship.

Peace in the World begins with Peace in the Family or Friendship.  Peace be with You.

Teresa Reichart-Vernon, LSCSW

 

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