Dear Fiona: How do I reconnect with my son and grandchildren?

Counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a woman who’s lonely and unsure how to reconnect with her son.

The problem
“Over the past three years I’ve lived through the deaths of two of my children and my husband. My son and daughter were both in their 30s and my husband was only 64. Not a day goes by without me missing them all and feeling sad.

“I have one remaining son who is 29 and married with two children, but things are strained between us, largely because I so rarely get to see my grandchildren. They spend a lot of time with their mother’s parents but if I point this out to my son, I am accused of being jealous and unreasonable. But I am not jealous – I am just hurt that I’m not being treated fairly.

Read more: Advice on how to truly heal a family rift

“This has caused several bitter arguments and I’m embarrassed to admit that we haven’t spoken to each other for more than three months. I feel unhappy and rejected by my son and his family.

“I’m 66 with no close friends that I can turn to, so I am also feeling very lonely. Why is my son behaving like this?”

Fiona says
“You’ve had a terrible few years and your son’s seemingly hurtful behaviour isn’t helping. However, it is possible that he is trying to distance himself because he too is hurting. You have lost a husband and two children, but he has lost a father and two siblings.

“Grieving affects people in different ways, and, for some, it is easier to deal with the death of loved ones by avoiding certain people. Those who act as direct reminders of the loss are probably the hardest to face, and you are probably the most direct of all.

“It is also possible that your son is feeling guilty; not because he is in any way responsible for the death of his siblings, but because he is alive and they’re not. That’s a very hard thing to live with and he probably needs help to recover – just as much as you do.

“Three months is a long time not to talk to your son and as he’s a father, leading a busy life, he probably hasn’t registered how long it’s been. You have focused a lot on your grandchildren and I’m sure they are really important to you, but perhaps your son needs to know how much you care about him, too.

“He has suffered a lot, I’m sure, and perhaps, by focusing your attention on his children, he’s felt they are more important to you than he is.

“Do please make contact with him again but, rather than revisit the grandchildren issue, why not explain that you miss him and that you want to put things right between you. I would also suggest that you really need to open a dialogue between the two of you and rather than focusing on your feelings, ask how he is doing. Hopefully, this will encourage him to open up and talk with you.

“I suspect you’ll then find you’re both still hurting and, as such, I think you could both benefit from some support. Grief Australia provides telephone helplines, counselling and support groups for Australians living with grief.

“I am concerned by the fact that you say that you have no close friends and feel lonely. Reaching out to Grief Australia would be one way to start changing that, but I would also strongly advise that you consider other ways of changing your life too. You are still young, so get involved locally – join a gym, a reading group, an amateur theatre company, an art group; whatever appeals to you and gets you out and about.

“Once you’ve re-established a dialogue with your son, I am sure the grandchildren issue will resolve itself too. If it doesn’t, though, you will have more in your life and it may not hurt so much if you don’t see them as often as you would like.”

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to [email protected] for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

What advice would yo give in this situation? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Dear Fiona: How do I get my family to stop taking me for granted?

– With PA


  1. Life is too short to let these misunderstandings keep you away from your dear son. However, your grandchildren should not be your sole focus. We cannot live our lives through adult children, or grandchildren. At sixty, you must find some interest that can be shared with others. Join groups who do something, whether it’s walks, knitting, reading or whatever. You will make friends and soon there won’t be enough hours in your day. Family will be a bonus.

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