My daughter has estranged me and excluded me from her wedding.
A few good friends are keeping me company that day and I would like to plan an authentic small ritual to honour and celebrate my daughter and her fiance's love and union. Nothing religious, but something spiritual. They are going to make statements to support my situation. Can you offer suggestions? Passages? The couple will not be aware, but we wish them well.
Oh, Elaine. This situation is so painful for everyone. On Offbeat Bride, we've covered this issue from all sorts of angles…
…but we've never covered it from this angle. I appreciate that you're not arguing with your daughter's decision, nor trying to change her mind. The situation is likely complex, painful, and fraught… and your respect for her decision speaks a lot about how you're trying to move forward with healing from the rift.
So. Let's talk about this: how can an estranged mother honor a child's wedding that she's not invited to? To help me answer this question, I decided to bring in the best expert on ceremony I know… my own mother, Therese Charvet.
My mom's a former catholic who's spent decades as a Buddhist / pagan / whatever, and she currently runs an eco-retreat called Sacred Groves on Bainbridge Island near Seattle. She and her partner host women's groups, grief retreats, wailing lodges, and ceremonies ranging from coming of age rituals to baby blessings to memorials and more. In other words: Mom knows her shit when it comes to non-religious self-designed spiritual ceremonies.
Here's what she had to say:
The situation you are in as regards being excluded from your daughter's wedding sounds heart-breaking. I honor your decision to have your own little ceremony to link-in energetically with theirs, to send blessings for their love and union. This is definitely walking “the high road,” an important alternative to feeling bitter and victimized.
So firstly: good on ya for staying in a positive place and responding from a place of love and respect for your daughter.
As for the nature of the ritual you might hold…..I suggest you follow your heart and follow your intuition in making something up. Here are some ideas:
- Lay out an altar with photos of your daughter (and her husband if you've got them), candles, flowers, anything else that feels right.
- Sing some songs, say some prayers for her and for their marriage, for their future children, for yourself and the healing of your relationship.
- Play some music, do some movement, express your grief at being excluded but don't get lost there.
- Send blessings, send blessings, send blessings their way.
- Pray for healing, pray hard, envision and speak a future when you will be re-connected in a positive way, when you can be actively and positively engaged with them and with their children, a loving and positive grandmother, mother and mother-in-law.
- Weep and wail at the pain in your heart at this current estrangement and cry out for energies to shift, resolution of the severance, good will all the way around.
- Call in the help of the ancestors to support this…… this severance may be a multi-generational issue, something that has been passed through your lineage. Ask them to help resolve it once and for all. Send more blessings backward in time to your ancestors, send blessings forward in time to your descendents.
- Speak out good memories of you and your daughter and your intention to heal the rift. Those who are present with you can hold witness, support you and your prayers, speak prayers of their own if they know your daughter. Doing such a thing will surely help energetically, even if it isn't clear for many years.
Blessings on your efforts and prayers… may they succeed in bringing you peace of mind and a sense in your heart that you have done something positive to support your daughter at this time as well as your own healing process.
My hope with this post is that it's both useful for Elaine and other family members who may be going through similar experiences… but also that it helps spread a little compassion and empathy to couples who are making the difficult decision not to invite certain family members.
It's important to draw your boundaries, but also important to hold a sliver of compassion and empathy for the experience of being excluded. Family estrangement is painful for everyone, and while that doesn't mean that anyone should feel obliged to invite ANYONE to a wedding… compassion for the challenges experienced by everyone go a long way.