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As you work through these feelings, though, you’ll need to tease out another strand of your grief

As you work through these feelings, though, you’ll need to tease out another strand of your grief

Typically, this process of separation from one’s parents begins during adolescence, but you might not have been prepared for it, because of the nature of the relationship you two had

Your daughter’s revelation happened to come at a time of transition in every parent’s life: your child becoming an adult. While you’re losing whatever the experience of having a child you assumed to be a certain gender meant to you, you’re also losing what every parent eventually does-your role in your child’s life, which changes dramatically when kids leave the nest and head to college or begin to live independently.

You describe being very invested in every aspect of your kid’s childhood-staying home to provide care, giving “input on clothing and hygiene” well into adolescence, even using the phrase “best friend”-and maybe this investment had something to do with your difficulty getting pregnant with your only and long-awaited child. But there’s a difference between being friendly with one’s child and taking on the role of best friend. What kids and parents both need are best friends their own age. When a parent takes on the role of best friend, that parent may feel abandoned by the child who is doing what she should be doing as she launches into adulthood, which places a huge burden on the child and leaves the parent with a tremendous sense of loss. It might be helpful to consider that you would experience this kind of loss in your life as a parent at this point in your child’s development, regardless of whether your child came out as transgender.

This leads to the third strand of your grief-loss of yourself. I get the sense that you put so much energy into being a mother that you lost other aspects of your life a long time ago-for example, your friendships, your interests outside of parenting, and a strong connection within your marriage. You say that your husband traveled and worked a lot while you were focused on raising your child, and now, while your child is doing the work of young adulthood-creating a life of her own-would be a good time for you to find meaning in those potentially neglected aspects of your own life. You might rekindle friendships, explore your passions and interests, and connect more deeply than you have in a long while with the person who could truly become your best friend-your husband.

For instance, instead of asking your husband to meet your needs by abdicating any of his own, which probably feels lonely to both of you, you tinder for couples might explore why you two aren’t talking about what’s going on. You say you know how he feels-that he isn’t experiencing the grief that you are-but I don’t think you know how he feels about you and your grief. Maybe he feels helpless or frustrated or sad. Or maybe he does share some of your experience but believes, as some husbands do, that he needs to be the “rock” of the family, and therefore doesn’t feel comfortable sharing his true feelings with you. The point is that as you develop a deeper connection with your husband to meet some of your very human need for closeness, you’ll be able to welcome your child’s move toward becoming her true self separate from you.

Working through your feelings may take some time, but by detangling the various strands of your losses, you’ll get a gain in return-a sense of peace with yourself, your husband, and, of course, your daughter

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