Sunday, May 31, 2015

Staying well

Living overseas is a rotation of leaving people or being left behind. It's emotionally taxing, though the goodbyes become so regular that we often forget to leave, and stay, well. Pollock wrote about building your "RAFT", to start your new adventure without bringing a bunch of baggage with you (pun intended). What about those of us who are staying put? That's hard too! Amidst natural disaster coping, this year it's been a challenge to say the least. Here are some things to think about for those of us saying goodbye to people moving on who have touched our lives in some way; best friends, co-workers, friends of your kids, etc.

(In that we are in a post-natural disaster situation, this doesn't cover leaving or staying when people have quickly evacuated and are not coming back. I wish I had more on that, perhaps in the future).

1) Go ahead and build that raft even though you aren't leaving. Reconcile with the people leaving, affirm them, say farewell. Think forward with them, and think forward positively for yourself.

2) Set aside time to spend with them in the last few weeks.

3) Take pictures, write cards, make farewell gifts that will pack easily - whatever fits your style.

4) Be conscious of making plans for the future in front of them, they will of course be left out.

5) Share in their excitement about their new post or repatriation.

6) Acknowledge the awkward, the sad, the happy with each other. Put words to it. It'll make people feel better and normalizes the whole thing we go through all the time.

7) Understand they are coping with a lot and your relationship might change as a result.

8) Grieve; it's ok. Change equals loss, loss equals grief.

9) Have kids?  Teach them how to say goodbye, help give them words for their feelings, don't shoo away the feelings with "you'll find a new friend" just acknowledge the sadness/frustration/guilt/anger.

Have other great ideas?

1 comment:

  1. After having lived abroad for 5 years now, many of your posts resonate with me, especially this one. I have some close local friends, but I find I have a deep connection with my expat friends (we're all in the same boat after all). Every year someone else leaves and it's hard to not feel like the one left behind.