Those of us who are or have experienced estrangement or alienation from our grandchildren, spend hours thinking about how this has happened.
After 10 years of supporting grandparents with their unique stories, I believe in most cases we will never know exactly what caused the separation.
Grandparents are accused of being bad mothers, bad fathers, terrible in-laws. They seemed to be blamed for absolutely everything that goes wrong in their adult children’s lives. Even when grandparents apologise for anything they may have said or done it seems that it is not enough.
I suppose we all hope that if any member of the family is ill that those we are estranged from will get in touch, sadly that is not always the case.
Many grandparents find themselves facing serious and life limiting illness, where you might expect compassion to come into play, often quite the reverse happens.
I have been asked to share this story with you.
“ My adult child has used my cancer as a reason to further alienate me from my grandchildren, she has demanded Doctors letters as to my fitness, then because they have said I am fit to see them, she has moved the goal post and required a letter from the specialist. Both have been totally supportive and the oncologist has said how important contact with them is.”
I am reminded of an email we received after we did The One Show item with Dame Esther Rantzen from a grandchild.
He had been denied contact with his grandparents for some time, and was not allowed to visit when his grandfather was terminally ill and was not allowed to attend his funeral even though he begged to go. The grief was leaping out from the page, the hurt still tearing him apart. Too late now to say “I love you.”
A time when families should be standing together can turn out to be a time were further hurt occurs.
When someone is ill they need their family around them, to be there to give support, to have to provide evidence with regard to their health is inhuman.
In some care homes they are bringing in nursery children to talk to the older residents and the benefits are clear to see, the children are listening to wonderful stories of a time gone by, bringing history to life and the older generation are motivated and energise in the company of the children. Laughter and smiles on all the faces.
Caring and to be cared for is a fundamental human need, no one is exempt.
As parents we cared for our children, we sat with them at night when they were poorly, we would do anything to make them better. Unconditionally.
Those children are now adults with children of their own, where is the unconditional love for their parents?