How true these words are, “Walk a mile in my shoes,” we really don’t know how a person is feeling unless we have experienced the same situation.

Friends are precious and should never be taken for granted, they are the people you turn to in difficult times as well as good times.

I am very fortunate as I have friends that I have known for over 50 years, and I treasure each and every one of them.

As an estranged and alienated grandparent it can be very hard when spending time with friends, what was supposed to be a joyful meeting turns out to be a nightmare.

Many of them are grandparents themselves and very soon the conversation starts about their grandchildren. How they are doing at school the funny things they do, and then to turn the screw, out come the photographs.

What do you do when that happens?

Personally, I love to hear about their little ones, and it doesn’t upset me, but to many grandparents it is unbearable.

Although friends are aware of your separation, they can forget, it is not intentional, they aren’t trying to make you feel uncomfortable.

There are choices that you can make, you can cut the meeting short and leave or you can gently bring them back to your reality and be honest.

Tell them that it is lovely to hear all their news about their grandchildren, but it hurts you terribly. Help them to understand what you are going through.

It could be that they say things like, “It’s time you moved on,” I suspect that they are feeling uncomfortable themselves and just don’t know what to say to you.

I know that some grandparents who feel this way, actually stop seeing those friends, but maybe if you can talk them through how you are feeling, hurt on both sides can be avoided.

It is only when we are honest with people that we can hopefully build a greater understanding.

We live in a world full of families, parents with children, grandparents with grandchildren, they can’t be avoided. Somehow you have to build up resilience, in doing so we can watch children playing in the park without being consumed by grief.

As we approach Christmas, grandparents are filled with dread as it appears as though every single thing is focused on family life, everything is showing the ‘rose-tinted glasses’ picture of happy families smiling around a food ┬áladen table, and in some homes that will be what is taking place. But for many, many families it couldn’t be further from the truth.

So if you are lucky enough to have true friends, take time to speak to them about how you feel, if indeed they are true friends they will try to understand.

Jane