Perhaps the most painful experience in life is on-going conflict that simply doesn't get resolved. The expectations of closeness, the roles we assume the other should fulfill, history that is decades old can resurface and instigate sudden alienation.
Consequences of intractable conflict reverberate out in expanding concentric circles to the nephews, nieces, grandchildren, and so on. Weddings and funerals come and go without some of the family attending, and the words we wish we would have said are left to haunt us after a loved one has past.
Often there is a triggering event that goes unaddressed. It is sometimes hard to know how to approach a difficult subject, and a very common coping mechanism is to avoid the topic, with a result of growing alienation over the years. There are also times when a family member goes through deep waters and withdraws rather than seeking comfort from close family members. Whatever the cause, there is pain in varying degrees from the distance.
The goal of mediation in family disputes is not therapy, although it can definately have a therapeutic result. The primary goal is to dialogue about the events to gain agreement on as many facts as possible in order to form a common history. The the events are never the sole issue. When trauma or alienation occurs, there is always the event, and then the meaning each person places on that event. Studies have shown that when several people observe the same car accident or bank robbery, each person remembers the event differently. Each observer's memory has merit, but the comparison can be the cause of resulting mistrust, accusations, suspicions, feelings of dismissal, and other negative feelings.
When mediation is successful, a common history can be formed, a new way of remembering an event that is now influenced by dialogue and understanding from a fresh perspective. Depending on the circumstances, a new common history can be written down in language that everyone has a hand in creating. The document can be signed by each participant so that everyone can refer back to the new perspectives and agreements gained from mediation.
If an important event is coming up, such as a wedding, birth of a child, bar mitzvah, graduation, or a holiday, mediation can smooth the way so that everyone can participate and feel confident that they are welcomed. Additionally, agreements can be reached about each participant's involvement, such as delegating certain tasks for preparation prior to the event, responsibilities during the event, and follow-up after the event. More than simply attending, family members often want to be a part of the total celebration. Involvement means belonging.
If you have a specific situation that you would like to discuss with Judy, please give her a call. She has years of practical experience and is skilled at generating many options for settlement. The initial 30 minute phone call is free!