A Reader Asks, “How to Move On?”

  • September 3, 2022
  • 1 Comment


READERS: Do you have any suggestions for Eleanor? She needs help coping with her losses.

I don’t even know where to start. My brother cut ties with my mom and I in 2016, with no fight or one singular issue being the reason, except a less than ideal relationship that formed between our family and my brothers girlfriend at the time (now wife).

I have no idea what happened – we went from being siblings who talked regularly, to infrequently, to only seeing each other at a rare (dysfunctional) family event, to nothing. My brother got married in 2017 which was the first major sting of it all, as my mom and I were not invited. However, my dad, aunt, uncle, grandparents and my dads girlfriend were all there. This estrangement has also affected my relationship with everyone else in the family too because by not choosing sides and saying something to my brother, it feels as though they have chosen a side – his.

Last year my brother and his wife had their first child, a baby girl. And that is the ache that just won’t go away now. I have been following my brother’s wife on her public Instagram, keeping up with baby girl’s first year of life, craving a relationship more than anything. Most likely my partner and I will never have children, and my partners family lives on the other side of the world. The only opportunity for a strong relationship as an aunt is with baby girl, and I am terrified that I’m never going to be given that opportunity.

Months ago, seeing the chronic emotional pain this has caused me, my partner tried reaching out to my brother but received no response.

As my niece recently turned one, I tried reaching out myself. I sent them both the same message – not addressing the pain or anger that I feel, but instead focusing on wanting to see my niece and build a relationship with her. I received no response.

I followed up with a gift and card addressed to baby girl and have still received zero response. I am at the end of my rope. Do I give up and find a way to accept that they will never be a part of my life? What are they telling my niece about me? What will she grow up thinking about me? I am so heartbroken at the thought that she will think I don’t care about her. I haven’t even met her yet, and love her so much.

How do I move on, and not have this affect my life through a constant emotional ache? Part of me wants this pain to go away, but moving on also means giving up hope of any sort of relationship ill have with my brother and niece.

1 thought on “A Reader Asks, “How to Move On?””

  1. Fern Schumer Chapman

    I’m sorry to hear about your devastating estrangement. Sadly, it is long-standing since you haven’t had a relationship with your brother and his family since 2016. In addition, when your sibling chooses a partner who extricates him/her from the family, it is difficult to sustain a relationship. If he doesn’t want to pursue a relationship, your situation is not going to change.

    I’ve written some posts that may be helpful to you and included the links below. There are so many losses in estrangement, including the collateral damage of the children in the family. It’s important that you take care of yourself — grieve your losses and gravitate towards others who appreciate you.

    Here are some of my blog posts that might help you cope:

    When siblings and partners can’t get along


    Resources for estranged siblings


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