Its been 10 years and so much has happened. You have done what most people can only dream to accomplish. You created a new home in a new land and even though at times you felt like everything was against you, you succeeded. It has taken a lot of work and a lot time. And there has been so much change.
We are in mid-December and its a natural time to reflect. Most of us are thinking about what goals to set for the next year and what we want to achieve. But we can’t forget that with every success there is loss. And with loss, there is grief.
We can work ourselves into the ground to avoid and neglect the feelings that we have had regarding this loss. In 10 years or so in moving to a new country so much has changed. You may not have lost someone as in death but there are more nondeath losses that we experience in a certain part of our lives than actual death.
The friends we had before may not be our friends now that we live so far away or may not be as close. We have may have grown up with cousins or other families as if they were as close as brothers but now you rarely talk to these family members anymore. Time and space may have separated you or it could have been jealousy and fear. We have ended marriages or romantic relationships in the last 10 years. The fact is these loses are real loses and the longer we deny how we feel about them the more they will come back up at inopportune times or moments.
Time for a Break
December is oftentimes defined as a time of joy, cheer and hope in the United States. But it is also a time of reflection because it is the final month of the year. Reflection is not always “happy” or defined in some other safe emotion.
Give yourself the time and space to process and sit with the full spectrum of your emotions. A lot can go on in 10 years and while it is easier to pretend to the outside world that everything is positive, we can’t escape the reality that is inside ourselves.
Allow yourself to experience all of your feelings and feel the loss and the complexity of emotions that you have. You know that you are in a good place. You wouldn’t change that for the world and it’s ok to feel sad that you couldn’t bring people with you. However, understand that everyone walks their own path. You have your own and it has led you here. They have their own and it has led them in a different direction than you are in now. That different direction is not defined as being good or bad, it is just different.
The Ritual of Closure
When someone dies we have some sort of rite of passage where the loved one can go to the world beyond (or an alternate universe or whatever your beliefs are) and we are able to say goodbye. We are not always afforded that when we move to a new country. We have not had the time to say goodbye due to the instability and violence of where we were living before.
Closure in whatever way we can get it is important. We can’t go back in the past and undo whatever has already happened. And even if we physically go back, it’s not going to be the same place that we left behind. Forgive yourself and take the time to say goodbye the way that you can and in a way that will give you comfort, solace, and peace.
Closure not Erasure
Closure does not mean that you are just going to get over it. When you lose someone, they will be in your mind and in your heart for the rest of your life.
This does not mean you will be in excruciating pain forever. It means that this person or people have helped to shape who you are today and that they in the spirit of your relationship with them will be walking with you down your path in the future.
Relationships don’t always last forever. People come into our lives for a purpose. We learn from them as they learn from us. Just because they are not in our lives now, doesn’t mean that we erase them from our memory. We are allowed to remember them fondly even if the end was not on the best terms.
Then this will happen…
You will make new friends. In this new country, you will create and adopt new family members. You will find your footing and you will have social supports in a location near you.
By gaining new friends or family members, this does not replace those you loved before but enhances your life by adding more people to it. No one can replace those childhood relationships and, honestly, you are not the same person that you were before. You gain new relationships that suit the person that you are now. It’s not about restricting relationships in your life but expanding them. It could be by gaining more people in your life or deepening the few relationships that you have.
We don’t forget those that made an impact on our life. And for one reason or another, we are not always able to keep in contact with those people that we have loved. Honor the time that you had with them and continue to allow yourself to grow from your experience of your relationship with them.
As the saying goes, it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.
And By the Way!
My name is Tara. I am a therapist who provides online counseling services in the state of Illinois. This blog post is not therapy and it should not be used as a substitute for therapy. If you would like to talk more, you can schedule a free 15-minute consultation, click here!