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How Grief Affects Our Bodies

When Cut Off from Your Grandchild

Fill the Void with Self-Care, not Comfort Food

By Susan Hoffman



Dear Susan:

I have not seen my grandson since my daughter severed all family ties three years ago. Ethan and I had a strong bond, so when his mother cut me off, I was devastated. I lost not only my grandson but also my daughter. 

My stress level has been so high that it’s taken a toll on my emotional as well as my physical health. Food gave me comfort and soon became my drug of choice. Exercise is nonexistent because I have no energy. I’ve gotten fat, which makes me even more depressed. 

Please tell me how to get out of this dark hole and start the new year stress-free. 

— Fatso Grandma


Susan Responds:

If we don’t feel good about ourselves, there isn’t much left, is there? You’re depressed about your situation, so you eat to self-medicate, and then you’re depressed because you’re overweight, which zaps your energy, making you too tired to exercise. It’s a vicious circle.

First, get some emotional support, either individually with a therapist or expert in the field or in a group setting, such as a grandparent-visitation support group.

My second suggestion addresses your physical well-being and comes from my book, A Precious Bond:

Part of health is exercise, and it can be a saving grace when we are feeling low. In fact, maybe that is the best time to get moving, when you least feel like it. There is nothing better than that endorphin high.

Load up your iPod with whatever entertains and motivates you and schedule 30 minutes a day to walk. Or try yoga, Zumba, Pilates, swimming, anything. Just do something.

As stated in Chapter 8, “Get On with Life” (A Precious Bond):

We love our grandchildren deeply and think about them every day, but they are a part of our life and not our entire life. Anything or anyone [to] which we become attached causes us to be powerless. Waiting is the lowest form of life’s participation. We know that someday we will be reunited with our grandchild, but we don’t know exactly when. For some, it may be when they are 18 or at least old enough to make their own decisions, but you can’t put your life on hold until then. This is about taking care of ourselves first.




Susan Hoffman is the director of Advocates for Grandparent Grandchild Connection (AFGGC) and the author of A Precious BondProduced by AFGGC, A Precious Bond is the first documentary film about unreasonably denied grandparent visitation rights. Visit apreciousbond.com for more information or to order the film or the book.


Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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