When Bill died four years ago, I was able to facilitate my children’s grief and farewells. By their own choice they had not spoken with him in several years, but I felt that grieving his passing was paramount to their healing journey. We lit candles and wished him well on his crossing. They whispered their regrets. I felt blessed to have been given such softness in my heart toward him.
My children no longer had to carry the heavy stone of family wounds heaped upon them by their parents.
Unhealed wounds have a way of becoming like family legacies; burdens that keep on giving down through the generations. Esteemed Pulitzer Prize recipient Ernest Becker notes that the young child automatically and unthinkingly absorbs parts of her primary caretakers’ world views, that “each of us in some way is a grotesque collage, a composite of injected and ejected parts over which we have no honest control.” Psychologists refer to these parts by many names: ego states, sub-selves, shadow parts, the child within, etc.
Watching my children tend to their “father wounds” reminded me of a similar process with my father.