Anonymous

Grandfather Has Never Met Grandchild Due to Mandated Shunning

Stories

I started to be shunned in 2012 at age 53, 38 years after I became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was not disfellowshipped yet, though. The shunning was neither complete nor universal at that point – only a few JWs really talked to me, but most others would at least greet me if the situation made it awkward to not do so, even though they otherwise avoided me. The reason for that situation was an outrageous story that my then-wife concocted – we became separated after she accused me of something I would have to have been home to do, but the fact is that I was about an hour car drive from home, broadcasting an FM radio show which an untold number of people listened to. Some people even called me at the station to participate in the live broadcast. The only people who believed my wife’s story were fellow JWs – not one person who is NOT a JW believed it because perhaps hundreds, even tens of thousands of non-JWs knew where I was at the time, and there was a plethora of other evidence to prove my whereabouts as well. So the JWs began “unofficially” and “partially” shunning me at that time

Four years later I was disfellowshipped for remarrying because the elders felt that I had no right to remarry. Then the shunning became official, complete, and universal among the JW community.

I didn’t and still don’t feel that I lost anything since I had already adjusted to the wholesale abandonment I experienced when the partial shunning began four years before I was disfellowshipped. Except that I lost my three grown children. Losing the love of and association with my children is extremely difficult to deal with. Really, it’s the only thing that is obstinately difficult for me. As their father, I will always love them no matter what. But the only thing that will allow them to love me is if I apologize for something I didn’t do, and if I get reinstated as a Jehovah’s Witness, something that is impossible to do, and I wouldn’t want to do anyway. Impossible because I would have to apologize to the elders for something I didn’t do, and assure them that I have asked for God’s forgiveness for a specific sin I did not commit. I wouldn’t want to do it anyway because about two years after being disfellowshipped, I commenced a sincere and exhaustive study of JW doctrines and finally realized that they are wrong about a great many things, therefore I do not wish to be a member of their organization.

The pain I feel about losing my children is manifold. First of all, although I did raise them as JWs and encouraged them to respect the authority within the organization, including respect for the disfellowshipping arrangement, I never taught them it is appropriate to extend the shunning to family members. Especially not members of the immediate family. The fact that they have opted to do that is disturbing because they were instructed to do so by the elders and others in the JW community. Therefore, the JW elders and others have an influence over my children that I no longer have. My children have been stolen from me. Emotionally and spiritually kidnapped. That is enormously frustrating. In fact, it’s maddening.

I know of one grandchild now, the daughter of my youngest daughter. I believe she is nearly two years old now. I have never met her, and may never. I did send my daughter a large box of clothing for my granddaughter, Marley Rose, from newborn to 12 months and everything in between. I received a very brief thank you note from my daughter in the form of a text message that said nothing else. Some time later I texted her to ask whether it would be all right if I drove my parents, who are now 90 years old, to visit their granddaughter and new great-granddaughter. I explained that they could not travel on their own and that I would stay in a hotel. The message I got back was completely lacking in emotion and simply said I was not welcome, and that future communications should be limited to things that are absolutely necessary. Those things would naturally pertain only to the settling of an estate and other matters involving any family member who may die.

I have experienced various ups and downs in my life. I recall a few times of extreme difficulty like they were yesterday. Yet I have adjusted and moved on from all of those things – none of them matter. Except for one thing. The loss of my children to the shunning arrangement. I am powerless to change the situation, so the most I can do is find new ways to cope as life goes on.

I am a certified Life Coach who has also studied human psychology extensively, even sitting in on Continuing Education courses by and for licensed psychiatrists. My understanding of how the mind and emotions work has led me to realize that it is necessary to change certain beliefs in order to experience positive mental, spiritual and psychological health. I also teach others what I have learned and put into practice in my own life. It is essential to recognize that the JW organization will likely not ever change their position about shunning. The membership will likely always obey the command to shun as long as they continue to be members – it is all they know, they are commanded to do it, and they know that they will be similarly punished if they disobey. Therefore it is necessary and possible to disconnect their lack of demonstrable love from who they really are and realize that they are doing the only thing they know how to do. It is also possible and necessary to forgive, which tends to free the shunned person from a very cruel emotional prison. The blame for the intense psychological damage inflicted by shunning lay at the feet of the organization and its top leaders, not the blind followers. If the top leaders (the Governing Body) changed their stance, all elders the world over would certainly follow suit.\n\nI don’t receive any direct support for my situation of being shunned, because no one who has not been a JW understands it. The support of the ex-JW community is extremely limited because it is so sparsely scattered, and many ex-JWs are not at a point of maturity where they can help themselves much, let alone help others. Therefore I have learned to live without support. I stay busy with my Life Coach practice, write and perform music, and enjoy other pursuits.

I don’t waste time or energy hoping for things that will not happen. Therefore, I don’t put any hope in the JW organization changing its stance on shunning. The only thing I hope for is my children waking up. I cannot be the one to wake them up – they have to decide to do that on their on, just as I and most other ex-JWs have. It is extremely unlikely, in fact inconceivable, that they will ever wake up because of developing a view of the JW doctrines that includes critical thinking. Sadly, it is most likely that if they do wake up, it will be because of an extremely painful experience that makes staying in the organization unbearable – only then will they be in a position to do the critical research needed to truly wake up. Until that happens, the complete absence of love from and association with them is my reality.

My life would be completely different if not for the shunning arrangement. It would be more like that of my birth family. Dinners, vacations and other activities together. Real, unconditional love. Arguments lead to someone being angry with another family member, but at some point, it’s resolved because they realize that their love means more than whatever the argument was about. Being the biggest fan of a family member who just graduated college and is embarking on a new and exciting career. Family members getting sick, but being bolstered by the concern and love of their relatives. Being proud of my children and grandchildren and letting them know about it. You know, normal stuff. Stuff that can’t be experienced due to the cruel and unnatural shunning arrangement.