scrapbook style page with photo of grave yard, dried flowers, ripped paper and title Grieving Estranged Relationships

Grieving Estranged Relationships

Grief is a complex and tricky emotion that doesn’t really follow any rules or specific formula. Everyone goes through it differently and the circumstances can vary big time. One big form of grieving comes from mourning the loss of a relationship that’s no longer a part of our lives, whether by choice or circumstance. An example of that would grieving an estranged relationship, and I really want to emphasize that it’s okay to feel a range of emotions, even when the choice was yours to let go.

The easiest way to put it would be to say it’s complicated.

Estrangement is usually due to necessity- either a response to toxic dynamics or painful experiences that threaten our well-being. Sometimes it’s a choice we make because we feel like we have to. But that doesn’t erase the history or the emotions we shared with them. Your feelings are valid, and they can be just as intense and multifaceted as those associated with more traditional forms of loss.

Trust the process

Grief is not a linear process, and it doesn’t come with an exact roadmap or deadline. When an estranged relationship ends, there’s also a weird kind of grieving that occurs. It’s like mourning what could have been, the lost potential for a healthy and loving connection. Emotions can come in waves – sadness, guilt, relief, pain, confusion – and that’s okay. Each emotion has its place in the healing journey.

Some people might assume that because you made the choice to cut ties, you’re somehow immune to the pain that follows. But that’s not always the case. Either way, you have the right to feel whatever emotions arise. Your feelings are valid, and no one else gets to dictate how you should or shouldn’t be affected by the loss. Don’t worry about what you think you’re supposed to feel and just let yourself feel it all. That’s how you get through it.

Honor the Memories

The pain of an estranged relationship doesn’t necessarily erase the positive moments you shared, even if they were overshadowed by bad or traumatic experiences. It’s okay to remember the good times and to feel a sense of nostalgia or loss while you’re grieving. It can be confusing and it’s easy to be hard on yourself. It’s important to be gentle with yourself as you figure it all out. Grieving is a journey that requires patience, self-compassion, and a willingness to embrace the full spectrum of emotions. Your experience is uniquely yours, and no one else gets to define how you should feel.

You’re not alone and your feelings, whatever they may be, are valid.


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