I asked several of our members to try and put into words why Bristol Grandparents Support Group is important to them, and what were the positives and negatives.

This is some of the responses.

“I thought we were on our own till I found this group. All the emotions, pain and confusion are bewildering. These groups help us to talk freely, express all our concerns, ups and downs with people who are going through the same torture. The support is so uplifting. I have found so much help here, whereas before I would sit bottling everything up. I could go on. I do not like the ”open” groups as anyone can join them and I do not want ”others ” who do not understand, have not been through what we are all going through commenting and judging on something they know nothing about.”

“I only recently found you but it has made such a difference to me . I thought I was the only one this happened to…crazy but that’s how it felt. I was embarrassed and ashamed to be an estranged granny …thought I must be a bad person for this to happen to me even though I know all I did was love and support my daughter. Thankfully I have a well adjusted son who doesn’t put me through this torture. It is so comforting to be here on this page and as I said before, the site oozes love . The stories are heart breaking and I feel for everyone of you . Fortunately for me I now have a very tentative contact with my GS as I plucked up courage after reading the stories here and contacted my daughters in-laws . I cannot think of any “cons” with this group …carry on the good work.”

“For me it has been a lifeline ,you feel you are alone but you belong to this group and you have a whole new outlook at your problem . You can share others sadness and happiness its like having a large extended family .”

“Being able to share offers support and also lets you know you are not alone. The other side is knowing you might be in for a long haul and there is no easy fix to our problem.”

“This group allows me to express how ‘I’ feel. As an elder person in this families torment of losing a little grandson to forced adoption I always have to be there for everybody else to comfort and support them…which I’m more than willing to do. This group lets me feel free to say how I hurt without feeling guilty and upsetting my family. Being amongst people who know exactly how I feel as they too are going through similar things. I split up from my husband years ago ,long before this happened so I am single so have no other ‘adult ‘to share my grief. Reading other peoples stories helps to remember that others are a lot worse off than myself. I already feel I know you people even though its been a short while. Joining this group as given me chance to off load my pent up emotions and I feel ‘ lighter ‘.Thank you my secret army and the cons-I have to learn to spell and try not to be so long winded!”

“My befriender is a rock. She just helps sort out the muddle in my head. I think I’ve thought of every angle but I haven’t. She’s teaching me by example that anger is wasted & something obvious that I had totally missed. I had a quarrel with my son & d-in-law & they punished my grandchildren! I never spotted that they’d done that & they keep on doing it. This lessens the blows. Xx”

“It helps me to get out how I feel ,good or bad, I no longer have to bottle these emotions up, its been great therapy , I feel free , I have learnt that others have gone through torture, and have survived, which gives me hope, I’ve also learnt that it is not me, and these types of people really do exist, I feel trust , love, warmth, understanding, peace, and that you guys are genuine & heartfelt , we are not making these stories up it is real, each & everyone of us is in pain, I try to be careful how I answer on someone’s comment , & I don’t want to tell people what to do in there situations, this group is a great place to come for comfort , if we have had a good or bad day regarding our situations we can speak about here, because if someone hasn’t been through what we are all going through they could never understand the depth of our pain & agony . lots of love to you all .”

“There are lots of reasons so I’ll try just to give you one that seems to be important to me.

When my kids alienated me from my grandchildren it was done to punish me. I had apparently offended my daughter-in-law. In order to justify it they threw negative & hurtful criticism at me. It was serious stuff including telling me I am poisonous. You have to be a very strong person to brush that off & I carried a great deal of guilt. I believed that there must have been truth in what they said. I’m not perfect & I did argue with my d-in-law. From the time it was said & they cut me off from my GC they have refused to speak to me. Hence I was left feeling worthless & powerless to defend myself. In most cases when trying to talk to friends or relatives about my situation I have felt that they think ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ which has added to my loss of self-esteem. A common theme is ‘you must have done something pretty bad for them to cut you off’. I didn’t but it made me defensive & unwilling to trust anyone.

I trust the group.

Joining the group has enabled me to share my experience honestly; I can admit I’m not perfect but don’t know what I’ve done. There is a common experience & lack of judgment that has shown me that what my children has done is part of a pattern of behaviour that children use to punish their parents. It’s effective as it is every grandparent’s worst nightmare. In a nutshell ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.

It works!”

“This is the best group ever. We are all in the same situations, some in different spots in our quest. I love the silliness at times and getting our thoughts off the pain of it all. Love the e exercises that make us use our minds and gives us alternatives to cope. Love the candle lighting. Someday hopefully I will get to meet some of you. Thankyou all each and everyone. Hope for change is in this group every day.”

“For me this group shows that we can and we do go on – we can have a few laughs – share the tears – and be happy for those that gain contact. Most of all – it shows me – I am not alone – thank you to all the new friends I have made on here – been a fabulous life line xxxxx”

Every single person who is a member of BGSG, whether that is as a member who attends meetings, or those members who access our support on the internet via social media, is responsible for its success. It is their compassion and empathy with others that makes it work.

The truly wonderful thing is that they don’t realise that it is themselves who are the ‘wounded healers.’

It is them who are the power behind BGSG.

Jane