Running BGSG has taught me all sorts of things and continues to do so.
I never know who is going to be on the phone when I answer the helpline or what email I am going to read.
Everyone who contacts us is unique, everyone has their own story to tell.
Listening to such sadness and grief on the phone or in the written word fills me with bewilderment and that hasn’t changed in 10 1/2 years.
Sadly I never did have and still haven’t got that magic wand, to make it all better and to have answers, but I can listen.
I try to be open and honest with everyone.
It is very hard for grandparents to hear that we have been estranged for over 10 years, and I am sure had I heard that 10 years ago I would have been devastated.
So should I not answer the question of ,”How long have you been apart from your grandchild?”
The problem is that, that is the truth for us.
Of course it doesn’t have to mean that every grandparent will be estranged for so long.
At our last meeting a grandparent said to me,” Have you resigned yourself now that you will never see your grandchild again?”
The answer is actually yes and no.
Yes, because I still have a life to lead, other members of my family that need me to be strong. If I am looking at the past every minute of every day, it effects those around me and does me no good at all.
No, because I never give up hope that one day our son will be reunited with his daughter. A daughter who lives in us all, a father who relives his alienation every second of every day. Reliving those precious memories day by day. The fear that she has been told he doesn’t love or care about her, when no-one could love or care more than he does.
Whether you are a parent or grandparent to these lost children we all feel we are never able to tell the children how much they all mean to us.
It is not about revenge, anger or bitterness, at least it shouldn’t be, it is about the children being able to know they are part of our family, they have our identity and DNA in them.
We have all always loved them and always will.
The injustice of not being able to make it known that we may have fallen out with one of their parents but never means that we have fallen out of love with them.
To all alienated children, “Never ever think we are bad people we aren’t we are just normal people caught up in a ridiculous situation out of our control. Just parents and grandparents who pray you are happy and healthy and that you find it in yourself one day to contact us so that we can show you our love. Countless cards and presents have been sent, some returned, some you have been told are from other people, memory boxes full of love, just for you. We are all here just waiting, should you need us.”
Being able to listen and to facilitate meetings, supporting others to set up groups is an enormous privilege and is not something I am complacent about.