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Response: Letting Go

I agree totally with your steps. Have moved with them, when I lost my Dad, who I considered was my twin (Was the biggest & most significant thing in my life) but needed and had assistance from other close beings, my husband.

When my mom passed away a couple of years later, my grieve was even mixed with this fear and somehow shame of being a total orphan (although I was 31 years old). But I couldn't express that much because my 2 year old son was constantly asking about his grandma (She was the one who raised him up) & I got scared that he gets badly affected. So I tried to act normally and it seems my surrounders believed that I'm not cracking so they re-acted MORE THAN NORMALLY. The result of not being tended is that, I can't get over until now. The one year old pain is never fading away. Pictures of my parents' illness & hospitals haunt me. Anticipated pictures of me being in a desolate abode with no one to tend me scare me.

So, I just want to add something and don't take me as being a negative person. A very important step in letting go is to find someone who understands your need for all the steps you quoted.

Howaida.... Still acting normally.



Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for sharing your experiences of 'letting go'.. and also for your web page. There have been numerous times in my life I have had to deal with grief and letting go.. most recently, it is an exercise I need to do with a relationship that means a lot to me.. in order for us both to emerge stronger and able to love each other in a healthier way in the long run.. we both live by.. 'If you love something.. let it go.. if it comes back to you.. its your.. if it doesn't.. it never really was..' and we are at a point, I think before we move forward.. we are exercising this.. and although it is easy in theory.. its difficult in reality.. and although I have grieved for my mom when she passed over, and for an unsuccessful marriage years ago.. this one is surely making its dent.. and I just wanted to thank you for being on-line to share you experience.. so others can feel a little less alone and afraid.




I'm having a very difficult time "letting go" of a 2 year relationship even though we both have agreed it's the best thing. We still live together as roommates, my friend is looking for a place of her own, both of us are still very emotionally connected and it really hurts. I just want to thank you for giving me a little incentive with your words of the alternate of letting go is not to keep what you are afraid of losing. Those words make a lot of sense, now let's hope I can keep them in my mind and focus on what new things are going to happen in my life once this is all over.



Mike, interesting article that one...but I think it applies to much more than just waiting to win the millions. I am 46, been married for 25 years, have two grown children (and one grandson) , and the subject of putting off my dreams is very relevant to me at this time. I came to the realization that I have been putting off things because I didn't want to upset other people in my life...so...like the people waiting to win the lottery....I wait too, for what ? I'm not sure .....so, the struggle is how best to implement the need to fulfill myself, and at the same time not screw up everyone's life !!!

I know that change is hard, it is difficult for me, and also for my family.....so, I try and then back off, and try a different direction, and then maybe back off....but what I want to do...is try, I know I want to try and change ...the question is how to do it without destroying....tricky !!!

Unfortunately, I feel quite alone sometimes...because it is difficult for others to understand what I'm feeling...but I guess that goes with it ??? some days it is really hard to find meaning in what I do ...some days I just keep doing what I've always done without quite knowing why....

Well, maybe some day it will sort itself all out.........maybe.


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I have had many sleepless nights over the words letting go. My only child a son who is 18 and going off to college this year has been my whole life. And because of that and a few more things my husband has been going through a midlife crisis. I lost my father 16yrs ago and my mother who is 71 is very ill. Letting go is always the best for your child.If you know you did your job well then the best is yet to come.I wish my having to face all my letting go of things could if been spaced apart more. I hope it makes me stonger from all of it and not bitter.When you are facing alot of hardships all at once sometimes you feel like letting go of yourself.. I pray alot lately.



Thanks Mike for your very insightful and encouraging column on Letting Go! My first-born and only daughter left for the Air Force in November of '97. WOW! Nothing could ever describe the range of emotions I experienced!

You are right about giving yourself permission to grieve. It has helped me so much to be able to do this. I am still in the midst of this journey, but I know the letting go is good for both of us. When I went to see her graduate from basic military training at Lackland AFB, I saw the beginnings of a maturing adult woman, my daughter. Now she's on to technical training at Sheppard AFB. It's still difficult, but I'm doing just fine.

I'm glad I found your site.

Phyllis in Lancaster, PA

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First of all I can't believe I found a site like this. I will not only bookmark this ,but come here often. Second of all I am in the process of letting go, and you word's helped me realize there will be a end product. It gave me hope. My son graduates from high school, this year, and will go off for the 2nd half of his advanced training in the National Guard. We prematurely had to let go of him last summer, as he did his first half as a split option. It was the hardest thing I ever encountered, and talk about grieving, big time. But I needed to. Although it is hard to let go of them, we have to. Thank you so much for this wonderful site. I have been in this Mid-Life phase, for two very unhappy year's. But I am slowly choosing to take this as an opportunity for my own growth, as my children are almost completely grown. God Bless You.



I have needed to let go of someone I love for almost 2 1/2 years. I am still trying. It is very hard and I still don't know if I can.



I too am grieving over a live in relationship of 4.5 years that has just ended . I came home from work - and he had packed all his things and gone. I feel so much loss, rejection and loneliness as I love the man deeply. I don't want to feel like this, but it is taking over my mind & body. I am having a very difficult time at the moment trying to cope with the day to day things, but I continually think of him, and no matter what I try to do - he is always on my mind regardless. I feel as if I am going crazy. I don't understand that someone can just walk away and not care about the other person. How can they block you out?


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I am currently in the midst of accepting the fact that our son will soon be leaving for college and find myself overly emotional about the whole process. At the same time my husband is trying to change his life and career by moving us across the country to start over . I am having trouble wanting to uproot the rest of the family for this. Right now I need to feel grounded to face my sons new independence. It has been very hard on me and our marriage.

I grieve the loss of my little boy. And fear that I might not have done everything I could to prepare him for his life...

I know only time will be able to tell me how well I have done as a parent.

Hope is everything sometimes...



I found your column when searching for information on letting go of adult children. I have a daughter, who is married and has a 9 month old baby. Neither my daughter or her husband work. They are on social assistance. It is very hard for me to accept the fact that they are not working. Her father and I have always set an example of working very hard. We have never been rich, but have provided for our children. We have also had to struggle raising an autistic child. It is also diffficult for me to understand why they believe that everything should be given to them. Recently they when on and on about needing a car to find work. They wrapped the car around a pole. My guts hurt. I feel sad at times and other times guilty. But I don't know what for. I would like to distance myself from them emotionally, but cannot distance myself from my grandchild. My daughter knows this and uses it. How do I do this?

Maria~ Vancouver Island



I'm putting your letter on this forum in hopes that other parents will have some advice. Good luck.


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Mike, what you say sounds easier than it actually is. My question is: how does one deal with the pain of becoming unimportant?



Hi Di,

I didn't say it was easy. It's not, but what alternative do you have? As for the pain, I think it helps to have a support group who knows what you're going through. You might try the people on Friends of Best Years. They've been, or are now, in the place you're coming from. You'll find them both compassionate and encouraging.

Good luck.


January 23, '99

Thank you. I need to let go of both past relationships (death and divorce) and to open myself to the gift of that letting go, freedom, ...what is new and now for me to turn to?


May 14, '99



August 29, '99

What perfect timing! As I pack a housefull of memories and leave (once again) the state of my birth, no article could have touched me more. Losing a job one plans to keep until they fall over is traumatizing to say the least, but having to give up your home.........devastating! And so, I let go. And the WWW saved my life! Yes, it's true! With 24 pets and ruined credit, how does one go on? I will tell you. Through friends made over the internet. When the company I was working for eliminated my entire department and replaced us all with machines (REALLY) I tried to keep up with all the responsibilities I had accumulated, but kept falling farther and farther behind. Finally, when I realized I could no longer even try to catch up, I sent out a letter to all my pals over the internet and across the country. What happened? I now have a place where my 21 cats and 3 dogs can run and play, a place where the onlly worries I will have is driving 25 miles to the nearest town to find work (because it is so far out in the country) and getting everything and "everybody" moved!! My friends even made donations to help finance a moving truck!! So you can well see, this article really hit home with me. I am WELL over 21 and I can't tell you enough how astounded I am at the overwhelming support of people who have only seen my face online in a picture. Letting go? Yes, I must; but in the process, how much I gain............ Thank you for a wonderful article! B.Stallman

I found your site while surfing this morning and loved it. As a very young 53 year old who has been on disability for the last 7 years, I look for those sites that help me to understand my life better. I also live a great distance both physically and emotionally from all of my children and grandchildren and find weekends are very difficult to get through because Sundays have always been family times. Keep up the great work and I will remember you in all my prayers.

A cancer survivor [10 years] and a mother with an "Empty Nest"

October 4, '99

My mate and I just ended a relationship that lasted on and off for 8 years. I am 49 and he is 44. He is such a wonderful and kind human being. Our problem was that we never could get off home plate to make it to first base. We aren't kids and yet when I wanted to get married, he didn't and vice versa. I have a 15 year old daughter whom he has known and loved over half her life. Yet now he wants to be in a relationship with someone and eventually get married and have children. This breaks my heart. I am too old for those child bearing years...although I don't feel it or act it or look it! But biologically I am too old and knowing that he is in his own crisis, and searching for someone to share his life with, really upsets me. Yet, I would so very wrong and selfish to try to convince him that the only family he needs is my daughter and me. He is a loving man and will be a wonderful dad someday. He has every right to experience what it is like to be a father tohis own children just like I am with my daughter.

The hard part is letting go. I am so depressed. He's my best friend. He is getting on with his life and I am stuck. I just called to make an appointment to see a therapist. I need to dothis for myself. Because right now I cannot see anything bright in my future.

Sad in LA

November 2, '99

Marie, I have made the mistake of providing too much for my sons. As a result they are not all responsible financially. I've drained my savings in the attempt to still shore them up. Well, what is gone is gone and I can't put it back in the bank. You are in a very difficult place, if you wish to have contact with your granddaughter you have to give money or she needs this or that and you probably feel guilty in not providing it since you took care of your own children. However, you say you don't understand why they won't work and appreciate the fact it is their responsibility as adults. I think you do. They understand perfectly well. The choices you have seem to be no-winners. If you help they won't be responsible themselves, if you don't you might get punished and lose a little innocent child. I would imagine you are sad and angry and worried all at the same time. Noone can advise you what to do except perhaps to draw specific limits on how much you will help and stand your ground. Perhaps this will help minimize the guilt and manipulation. Sort through all of your feelings and weigh them against each other. I wish you luck. Adult relationships with grown children are tricky and ever-changing.


January 25, 2000

I have been in the process of helping my daughter plan for her wedding next year in August of 2001.  Although I am happy for her, I feel as if I am losing my place in her life.  How do you accept that after 19 years of making her your life, it is moving in another direction?  I am working on it, but boy is it hard!  The hardest part for me is that now I feel worthless as a
human being.  I spent my whole life as a stay at home mom, and I loved it so much, but now I feel like I have nowhere to put all the love I still have for her.  I hope it gets better!  Thanks for listening.


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March 19, 2000

I too have an adult son age 25 that uses guilt to get me to help him out financially. He is Bipolar but doesn't get help because he says no one can help him. He doesn't have a car or a job. He says it's my responsibility to help him even though he is 25, since I brought him into the world and some children still need help after they are of legal age. He lives with a woman and her 3 preschool children and watches them during the day and keeps the housework done while the mother works 2 jobs. Last week I gave him money for his rent and late fees, paid his phone bill and gave him money for groceries because the woman had changed jobs and still hadn't been paid. I am angry with myself for not doing a better job of teaching him responsibility and for
giving him the money which was almost an entire month's pay. I have never been able to say no to him, and I'm afraid if I do he will be out on the street-alone. When he gets severely depressed he calls me crying, and I talk try to help him. He told me he's afraid that something will happen to me and he will no longer have anyone to talk to that understands how he feels. I get
frustrated, angry inside and depressed with myself because I allow him to manipulate me (even though he lives in another state).I don't know where to turn for help.




My daughter is getting ready to leave for the Air Force in a couple of months and already I feel a great deal of loss and emptiness.  You must understand that she and I have been together since the day she was born, literally I was in the room and was the first, after the doctor to hold her.  We have spent a great deal of time together and I have taught her that she could come to me for anything and so we have had a very refreshing and open relationship for a parent-child.  Not to say it
hasn't had its ups and downs but it has been glorious watching her grow to the young woman she has become. But I still can't get this empty feeling off me.  I made need help before this is over with. Thanks for listening.

Tom, Jacksonville, FL

June 13, 2000

Dear Mike,
I enjoy your column though I often find myself at the brink of tears.  I am at a standstill with a career which has provided me with a good salary and benefits and the opportunity to help others.  I enjoy most aspects of it though it's basically over (the project I've been working on) and I'm not interested in the next offer.  Someone once asked me if I needed a "near death experience" to wake up! I've considered letting go of the security, perhaps starting a business or finding something else part-time which would allow me more time to be with my family and care for my home and myself.  Letting go is so hard!!  Truly the fear of the unknown.

Thanks for the advice.  It helps to make the important things clearer.


September 5, 2000

Dear Mike and Readers,
I appreciate finding this little forum and reading the write in notes. I have your article taped to the refrigerator as I type. Friday August 25th the eldest of my three daughters left for College. My emotions like many of your readers have been on a real roller coaster. There is a sense of pride and accomplishment to see her so poised and independent and responsible and then there is a real sense of lose and grief over this thing called,"letting go". I ask God to be my strength and also to watch over her. If it is any help to others in knowing that God can be where a mother can't then I want to pass that on. Thanks for sharing this forum and reminding us all that we are not nuts for these feelings that we are experiencing. Lilly

July 1, 2001

I am grieving profoundly over a 10 year marriage I put my entire hear and soul into.  At 45 years of age I am left with financial difficulties and a broken heart.  I cannot breath, eat, sleep, or have a moments peace.  I read the entry of a man in a 23 year marriage who just couldn't be satisfied.   Personally, that makes me ill to think someone could be so selfish.  Marriage
vows are not to be broken and people now take them so lightly.....only thinking of themselves.

I am left with days of absolute solitude staring from my chair.  It is difficult to get up in the mornings and as I go to bed each evening I cry and hope I do not awake the next morning.  When I do awake in the morning I feel sick to be in this world.  For 10 years my husband and I were together most of the time...we spent so much time together I now do not know how to survive without him.  He left because he is 45....has wasted his life and does not have but a few more years he can reclaim his happiness and live life to its fullest.  No, there was no other women involved, just a mid life selfish act that left me with a huge debt and a bigger dent in my heart.  How can someone make promises to someone and then ruin their life as he has mine?    Are their no morals left in this world that I do not choose to be in?


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