Monday, May 25, 2015

Expats Are Familiar With Goodbyes.


An expat's life is all about change. We are all very familiar with airports and how they can be synonymous with good-bye's. It might be very true that we're familiar with goodbye's, but it doesn't make it any easier. Good-byes are just the same for expats as they are for everyone else. With June quickly approaching, that means a lot of good-bye's as we say farewell to colleagues, and my children will have to say farewell to friends they have made this year.

Let's be honest, some good-bye's will be harder than others. The harder good-bye's come with a sense of loss and grief. Will we actually ever see these people again? Other than Facebook, will we have much contact with them? These factors also make the act of making friends more challenging. Personally, I prefer to have a few intimate friendships as opposed to knowing a lot of people and have surface relationships. But that also means it's that much harder to say good-bye to those intimate relationships {and that much harder to make deep meaningful relationships}.

Since many expats do not know how long they will be in a country for, I have to force myself to invest in a relationship that I might be saying good-bye to in a six months, which is not an easy thing for me to do. A small part of my heart dies when a friendship has to end. It's not like moving within the United States when there is a larger possibility of seeing each other again. These are friendships with people who are spread out all over the globe, and country hopping is a little more when you have a family of four!

I remember the first time saying good-bye really impacted me. I was ending my grade six year in Middle School and we were moving from the Philippines to Kansas. I had to say good-bye to all of the friendships I had made that year and for most preteen kids, Middle School is not a very fun time of their life, much less moving around from one continent to another.

This year my kids will be saying good-bye to some of the first friendships we made when we moved to Hong Kong. One of them is to a little girl who is moving back to England. We met her as we were walking into their school for the first time. They were also new to Hong Kong, and we immediately connected and went out for dinner together. Now over the year, there have been numerous playdates and we've celebrated holidays together. I'm needing to allow my kids to fully honor these good-byes and allow them to grieve the change in this friendship.

But when my kids and I say good-bye to friends this June, I find that it is important to acknowledge that friendship. To let the other person know what they have meant to us. And to embrace the reality of what a good-bye means. I love this life in another country, and like everything we all go through, life just comes with its positives and negatives. Good-bye's are one thing I don't enjoy about living an expat life! 


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