Today I quickly want to say very clearly that I believe there are two pitfalls for a family experiencing this kind of trauma, that both are completely avoidable, and my experience leads to believe that failure to do so increases everyone's grief exponentially.
The first is really simple, and unfortunately if you are an adult child, it's totally out of your control. Parents, I am talking to you:
Please, please don't get involved with anyone else until your divorce is legally finalized.
I mean that very literally: don't date, don't nurture a "special friendship" with the possibility of becoming more, just don't do it. You do need support right now, so please seek it with people who can offer it to you in a straightforward way. There is no way I could possibly speak to all of the hurt inflicted by bringing another person into your family too soon, and you will not be able to tell when "too soon" has passed. You will have to give your children the time to evaluate that for themselves; honor their efforts and respect their needs when as they come to understand them.
ACODS, the second pitfall is the responsibility of parents and their children alike, and I've written on it before but I want to say it very clearly here now:
Parents, do not use your children as confidants. ACODs, refuse to be used in that capacity.
Parents, you are parents to your children as long as you live. They deserve a safe harbor and your best intentions. Getting divorced is a kind of wound that initiates a deep need for expression and self care. Please tend to yourself. And please don't place the burden of being a healing ear upon your children - they have plenty to wounds of their own, and it's likely that if you ask them to, your children will put care of you above care of themselves. Don't put them in that position.
ACODs, being a "good child" doesn't mean letting insidiously toxic confessions be dumped all over you in the name of helping your parents. If they don't have the sense not to confide in you, refuse to participate. You will be attacked for this. You may feel deeply guilty. But trust me, no one's going to honor your needs if you don't. In the long run, you have to love yourself and right now you need self love more than ever I bet.
I didn't do that. I betrayed myself, my grief, my needs by defending my parents. I suffered through being the listening ear to my parents, telling myself it was an issue of being "strong enough" until finally it grew into an illness that took hold of my life and forced me to stop and take care of myself. Three years later, I am still living with the health consequences of having loved myself last. You can read more about that HERE.
That's all I've got today. Short and sweet. It's the core of what I meant for this entire blog to communicate though. I don't believe what I experienced is unavoidable. I learned these facts the hard way, and I hope it will help one of you.