It is the last day of the working year for the Family Separation Clinic and as I begin to put the files away and seal the notebooks up, at the same time I begin in my mind and in my home to light the candles for the lost loved ones.

Honouring the lost ones is a family tradition of mine which stretches back to my young years. When one grows up with missing spaces in the family line, it is important to honour those gone before and those missing still living.  At the this of year we light candles of love for our lost ones and increasingly as I have grown older, I light candles of love for all of the lost ones around the world and for those who suffer the missing spaces and places at times of family togetherness.

In the UK where this time of year is cold and dark, our energy wanes with the sun and despair can set in.  Lighting candles to remind us that the light will return and this too will pass, is an age old tradition which has its roots in many different religions. Whether or not one is religious does not matter, because recognising and acknowledging the passing of time, the spaces in our lives which could be but are not filled with loving presence and the importance of those relationships, is what we are doing.

Around the world are so many people who live without their loved ones.  So many who are living with the pain of the loss of a child who is still living and who have to bear an unbearable injustice.  For it is wrong and it is deeply damaging to all, to wrest a child from their right to an unconscious childhood in which all of the important people in their lives are present.  It is even more wrong to indoctrinate a child into a cult within which the child is held so tightly bound that they will lock the door with themselves on the inside and throw away the key willingly.

As this Christmas time approaches I want to validate and honour those who have to suffer this dreadful injustice and wrong which is perpetuated by so many unaware people around the world.

This year I have not done so many reunifications as I wanted to rest, reflect and focus on my research work. I have done some however and once again, as I have done this work, I have seen how, when the burden of influence is lifted from a child’s shoulders, their psychological and emotional self is liberated from harm.  I have worked with little children and quite a few teenagers this year and have also worked with adults who were alienated as children and have seen the same patterns repeated over and over again.

I have seen how children act their recovery rather than speak it.  I have seen how the split state of mind creates telescopic vision and I have seen the reality for each and every child, that if they were not forced into this place they would not choose to lose one parent in order to keep the other.

I have seen the love in the hearts and minds of the children I have helped to recover a relationship after alienation and I have found myself standing as curious observer watching others witness this in disbelief.  How can so many people not recognise when a child is experiencing parental alienation?  To me it seems utterly obvious when a child is expressing the signs and I find myself wondering how can this person who stands with me not know that this child loves the parent they are saying they hate, they are just adapting to the power dynamic around them which prevents them from showing it.  This year I have seen more unaware practitioners observe the change in a child from alienation to recovery and I know that each one that sees it will never forget it.  Which tells me that our project for 2019 is to show it to more people so that more recognise it and want to do something about it.

One child, now a teenager said to me in the middle of the year ‘how come he’s changed?’ (Many children who encounter the parent again after reunification say the same thing), to which I replied, ‘how do you know it is your dad that has changed? This young person looked at me and I watched the light go on as the reality dawned that the change was inside not outside.  As I watched this young person and their father cooking together later that same day, I understood all over again that the love that these children feel never dies, it never goes away, it is always present but it is out of their conscious reach.  When we do this work we are removing the blocks and barriers to the unconscious where the love still lives and we are opening doors and lighting the way home.

Watching rejected parents this year has also made me realise that they too suffer a form of splitting in which the belief that their child cannot or does not love them any longer comes strongly to the fore.  Helping the rejected parent to drop the defence and be ready to give love to kick start the reciprocal relational flow, is what I have been doing.  At times I have realised that reunification is something of a field hospital with two patients in need of intensive care at the outset.  Enabling the child to tolerate distress as we increase proximity to the parent, is about tending to two deep seated needs which change and grow as the relationship emerges from the fog.

A new year brings so many possibilities.

As I close down in London, I am lighting the lights on the inner and the outer to keep the love shining brightly right through the fog to 2019.

Light your candles too and keep them burning brightly so that the path you are building for your children can be seen from outer space.

I hope that in 2019 all of the lost loved ones can find their way home.