“Not long ago, estrangements between family members, for all the anguish they can cause, could mean a fairly clean break. People would cut off contact, never to be heard from again unless they reconciled.
But in a social network world, estrangement is being redefined, with new complications. Relatives can get vivid glimpses of one another’s lives through Facebook updates, Twitter feeds and Instagram pictures of a grandchild or a wedding rehearsal dinner. And those glimpses are often painful reminders of what they have lost.
“I frequently hear, ‘I heard from somebody else who read it on Facebook that my son just got married,’ or, ‘My daughter just had a child, and I didn’t even know she was pregnant,’ ” said Joshua Coleman, a psychologist in the Bay Area who wrote a book about estrangement, “When Parents Hurt.”
“There are things that parents assume all their lives they’d be there for, then they hear in a very public third-hand way about it, and it adds a layer of hurt and humiliation,” he said.
Credit: Christopher Gregory for The New York Times
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