Saying Goodbye Never Gets Easier
Dear Dr Jules,
It is the end of the summer holiday and I feel so sad. My family have all returned to the UK after a lovely visit. I know they have their own lives and that I cannot afford to join them, but I can't stand the pain each time we part.
I feel your pain on this one. I lived in America for fifteen years and only got to see my family during the summer holidays when we would fly back to Europe. The first time we said goodbye it was unbearable and I thought it would get easier, but it never did. Eventually I gave up a good career and moved to France so I could be around family again, and yet each time I approach the train station that we used to leave from I still feel that panic rising along with the memories of all the separations.
Family is so important to you and that is a gift you must not underestimate. Here are some tips I learned along the way that might help you to cope with the separation a little more easily:
- Start planning the next time that you will be together and enjoy the process of looking forward rather than looking back. Get some dates in the diary so you have that to work towards.
- Remind yourself that today you are one day closer to being together than you were yesterday.
- Invite your family to collect all the photos of the summer and burn them onto some CDs to share, or better yet create a photo album of this last time together. You could create a library of these memory books that you all look at when you are together so you remember the fun times.
- Set up regular times to chat on the phone or via video link such as Skype so you can stay in touch with each other’s daily lives.
- Get busy at home. Do you work, or do you have projects at home, or groups you are involved with? Maybe you need to expand your social circle by getting out more or volunteering? Whatever it is that keeps you occupied during the day, make sure you are filling up your diary with things you need to be doing so that you are less focused on what you are missing, and more absorbed with putting your energy into the life you have created for yourself.
- Next time your family leaves, make sure you have something planned to look forward to straight away, such as lunch at a favorite restaurant after you drop them at the ferry port, or a get together with good friends.
Saying goodbye is never easy but it is survivable. If you ultimately decide that the pull of family is too great, then that may one day be something you all need to discuss as a family. In the meantime, enjoy the moments you have together and the memories you are making, they are something to treasure.
If you are feeling that you are struggling to cope or gain perspective, then counselling can be helpful in providing support and a non-judgmental space to work through your problems. For more in-depth help and counselling, consider contacting Dr Jules in person
This article was also posted at English Informer In France.