Family Stories from the Pandemic……When space from family is helpful rather than harmful

November 12, 2020 | By More

Emer Casey

Systemic Psychotherapist & Registered Family Therapist

BSoc Sci (Hons)

Since the start of the pandemic, the media – including social media – has been flooded with stories and images of families experiencing distress due to the separation demanded by the restrictions.  Adult children not able to visit elderly parents, grand-children have to stay away from grand-parents and family members abroad have been unable to travel home.  The accompanying stories tell of the sadness and grief being experienced by all as a result of this enforced separation.   These experiences are real and reflect the experience of many families. 

However, there are other family experiences that do not get narrated in the media. These other stories remain largely untold or submerged.  Stories about family members who have welcomed the space from other members of their family.  This space has provided a break from conflict and challenging relationships allowing time for reflection and perhaps some much needed respite. For example a grandparent may feel guilty or embarrassed to admit that they have welcomed the break from looking after their grandchildren. Or someone who often plays the role of peacemaker or appeaser in a family may feel recharged because they have not had to intervene and mediate in family matters for some time.  Due to the fact that these stories are largely not part of the public discourse, family members who are living these experiences can feel very alone.  This can lead to isolation and stigma making it very difficult for them to acknowledge or give voice to their authentic feelings.  There is no chance for them hear about other people who share their experience meaning that the opportunity to normalise the situation is unavailable to them and others. 

Family therapists spend time at the coal face with families experiencing conflict and challenges that have sometimes led to terrible consequences for all.  We understand the complexity of the institution of the family and the many expected and unexpected challenges it can face as it moves through the family life cycle.  Helping family members to speak up and say what has up to then remained unsaid is one of our key tasks.  This means that our work with families gives us access to stories that normally remain untold.  These stories lose their power once voice has been given to them and the loosening of this powerful hold can lead to deep healing for all.  It would be such a positive development for all families if some of these stories became part of the public discourse going forward.  A public discourse which acknowledges and gives space to the wide diversity of experiences in families rather than promoting a single and narrow story would be such a positive development.  If people are given the opportunity to fully understand and embrace the changes forced by the Covid-19 restrictions it might just  allow them to start to change negative patterns in their own family life.  

Emer Casey is an experienced Family Therapist at Evidence-Based Therapy Centre. You can read more about her background and experience here. If you would like to book an appointment with Emer, you can call the clinic on 091 727777 or get in touch via the contact page

    Category: Uncategorized

    Comments are closed.