Friday, August 19, 2011

When Memories Hurt

Here at Grandma's Little Pearls I am all about creating happy and fun memories for my grandchildren and family. I recently realized how vital and far reaching our love and support can be during the good times and during the times when bad things happen to the little ones we love.

A couple of weeks ago I witnessed how deep and long lasting memories and feelings can be. Our memories and the feelings they bring can be very good and positive when they come from a place of happiness and security. What I witnessed though was deep heartbreak in my ninety-one year old father when his memory took him back over eight decades to the day he learned that his parents were breaking up.

I did a bit of research on the effects that divorce has on children. The words intensely stressful, pain, guilt, vulnerability, grief, loss, anger, powerlessness, depression, insecurity, alone, violent acting out, anxious, fearful, overburdened, delinquency, distress, and a multitude of behavior problems littered the pages of my research.

Over eighty years ago my grandmother went to my father (an only child) when he was eight years old and said: "Son, I am leaving your father. Do you want to go with me or stay with your father?" Tears ran down my father's face as he shared this memory. I could see that it was coming from a very dark and powerless place. The emotion was as if it had happened yesterday.

My father is now blind but he can still vividly picture that day and the days that followed in his mind. He suffered through years of diminished parenting and a very poor quality of life as he was shuffled from one relative to another following his parents separation.

In today's world with the divorce rate hovering around fifty percent many of our grandchildren will very sadly experience many of the powerful and heart wrenching adult words found in the second paragraph. So, what can we do as grandparents to help?

I am certainly not a professional in this area but I would think that giving our grandchildren a soft place to fall would be a good start. A neutral listening ear and an abundance of a grandma's love would certainly help too. Beyond that, we could become an informed and loving advocate and a voice for the child/children if we see the need.

I like to keep things happy and positive here so I have to end with some very good news!  The very good news is that the happy memories and the feelings of love and security we create with our little grandchildren .... they can endure (as the inner child) for decades too!


  1. It's sad that your father still can feel the hurt so sharply. It's a good reminder of how long a painful memory can last, and I agree with your suggestion for grandparents to be a source of lasting support and love for their grandkids.

  2. How very sad for your father, and surely for you to see him remembering and still hurting all these years later. I hope and pray my kids and grandkids and all who follow have happy and loving memories that far outweigh the slightest bit of sadness they may ever experience. Like you, creating such memories as a mother and grandmother is my mission.

  3. My son's divorce was one of the hardest times that I have gone through, and I am currently reading a book about how to help our children and grandchildren through a divorce. It's a heart-rending topic for me, but there's no point in putting one's head in the sand. The chances are that many grandparents will be put in this position, and it is good to have some idea about what to do.