The holidays are almost here, which means, if you’re like most women, you’re probably experiencing a lot of stressful feelings right about now. A recent survey found that Christmas stress was second only to financial problems,which, let’s face it, can contribute to a considerable amount of Christmas stress.
There is a lot written about how to say goodbye when you first set out on an expat adventure. Articles and advice columns packed with tips and techniques meant to lessen the pain of separation as you bid farewell to family and friends. But there are other times when you have to say goodbye as an expat, some of them even more wrenching than your initial departure.
One of the most distressing can be when it comes time for the friends you made overseas to return to their home countries. Sooner or later during your time overseas one of your closest confidants will leap on a plane and leave you behind. When this happens, the pain of separation takes many expats by surprise, leaving them feeling abandoned and alone. To help you deal with the upset and isolation that can strike when a close expat friend heads off home, leaving you on your own, we’ve looked at ways to cope.
Talk about them leaving
Your friend is leaving. This is a fact and it will not change.Don’t pretend that everything will carry on as normal after they’ve gone or that it won’t hurt. Both you and your friend are probably dreading the moment of goodbye, even more so if your family and theirs are close.Make sure you acknowledge how close you’ve become and how much you will miss them. But also make sure they know they have your support in moving on to their next big adventure.
Make the most of the time you have left
As their departure date looms, make the most of the time you have left, do the things you’ve thus far put off. Go on that day trip, cook that meal together and build as many memories as you can.
Throw them a going away party
It can be difficult to put into words just how much someone means to you, but there are other ways to say this. A surprise party with friends, cake and a good vibe can be the perfect way for everyone to share the love.
Acknowledge the grief
There’s part of all of us that wants to keep calm and carry on, refusing to acknowledge the pain we are in, hoping that might make it go away. Acknowledging how you feel and understanding these stages can make it easier to steer your way through them.
Stay in touch
Agree before they go that you’ll keep in touch by a particular method. Whether it is a regular Skype date, letters or text messages, make a commitment to keep talking.
Arrange a visit to see your friend in their new life, wherever they are. A flying visit may give the context you need to understand what has happened to your friendship.
Make new friends
The sooner you get out there and start making new friends, the better you will feel. And it’s not as though you are dishonouring your absent friend by meeting new people. It may be the case that the pain of losing one friend was so great that you want to avoid making another in case they too have to move on. Don’t be tempted to become a hermit, shunning human contact; this is far from healthy.
If it hurts when someone leaves, you know the relationship is strong and that it’s worth investing effort in keeping it going from afar. If you decide to avoid making new friends, you are committing yourself to avoiding one of the best features of expat life and setting yourself up for a miserable time overseas.
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