Originally published Stepparent Magazine October 3, 2019 / Revised September 16, 2023

They didn’t die, but there are days I think it might’ve been easier.

At least we’d have closure, a definite ending, something.

Grieving the Invisible Loss

Instead, we’re grieving children that made a million memories here in this home, under that tree in our front yard who now live down the street and have new names.

We’re grieving birthdays that have passed, graduations missed, future weddings we’ll never be invited to, and grandchildren we’ll never meet.

Loss of Identity and Community

We’re grieving the identity we once had as a parent, stepparent, friend, coach, and mentor.

We’re grieving the loss of a community that once embraced us but now shuns us and assumes the worst.

Broken Relationships and Stigma

We’re grieving the loss of close relationships we thought we had but have since found out better.

We’re grieving a loss that nobody talks about or understands yet everyone assigns a stigma.

The Unfathomable Treatment

To the core of our souls, we’re grieving the unfathomable treatment we received by our court systems that assigned us titles like abuser and unfit parent.

Loss of Self

We’re grieving the loss of ourselves, the person we once recognized staring back at us in the mirror before the war turned us into a stranger.

Irreplaceable Memories

We’re grieving the loss of our children’s childhood that we can’t fix or ever replace. Time that we’ll never get back. Memories we’ll never have.

Seeking Justice and Truth

We’re grieving the realization that justice may never be served, and the truth may never be found.

Erased Memories and Reprogramming

We’re grieving the loss of the memories that have already been rewritten and those that have yet to be erased.

The Struggle to Reconnect

We’re grieving the loss of a child that still exists but has been reprogrammed.

We’re grieving the reality that we might see our very own children at the grocery store and be unacknowledged.

Invisible in Their Eyes

We’re grieving the reality that our very own children most likely believe we’re bad people who have committed unspeakable acts.

The Pain of Uncertainty

We’re grieving the reality that our children may never return. Or if they do, the children we once knew and loved no longer exist.


We’re grieving the reality that there isn’t a single thing we can do about any of it.

The Silent Suffering

It’s called disenfranchised grief.

Ambiguous loss.

It’s the fallout from a destructive form of psychological abuse that tears away at the core of the relationships with our children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews that now make us completely invisible to them.

Parental Alienation: The Silent Hell

To the world, it’s called parental alienation.

But to those of us who live it, it’s called hell on earth.

7 thoughts on “Disenfranchised Grief: The Silent Pain of Parental Alienation

  1. Oh my gawd ….I can’t believe this is my life, yours and many others. It’s so painful I wonder how I get up every day. No one understands it…not even my own family, who have been alienated as well. Thank you for writing these words. I have forwarded it on to many people so they can try and understand. God bless you Cheryl for understanding…..and I am so sad for you too.

    1. Stephanie,
      I understand. I am the walking dead. Thank you for posting. I thought I was the only one. -Laura

  2. I lost my boy he hit 13 and know shares the poison with his awful evil mother ! I never have been so sad and depressed in my whole life , I taught him to skate at3 and be a great hockey player , until I met someone new then shit hit the fan and my son has been brainwashed ever since!

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