It's been just over a month since we said good-bye at OR Tambo for the last time. They are all gone now. As we see our families and friends leave to go start a new life, it always leaves an empty knot in the stomach and heart. It is probably by far one of the hardest things to do. Staying behind when family and friends become expats is never easy.
I realise leaving must be so much harder than staying. To become an expat is definitely not easy for anyone. All my friends that have left says the same thing. Your mindset must be right and even so your attitude to making it work.
Once an African heart, always an African heart, no matter where you relocate. But this post isn't about leaving, this post is for those who is staying behind.
Staying Behind when Family and Friends become Expats
About staying. There are tons of reasons why we stay. Everyone still here, I am sure have their reasons. But I believe just like our friends and family that has left, we stay because we pray about where God wants us. Sometimes for whatever reasons, staying is just the better option. But this too can change, that's life. It doesn't stay the same and we can only do what we have for today, tomorrow might look completely different. In everything we do.
So having to deal with so many good-bye's over the past couple of years I decided to write this post and give some tips on how to make the most of today and prepare for tomorrow when they are gone.
Plan ahead: Give yourself and your family members enough time to prepare for the goodbye. Schedule a specific date and time to gather and say your farewells.
Express your emotions: It's okay to feel sad or overwhelmed during this time. Be open about your feelings and encourage your family members to do the same. Share your gratitude and love for each other.
Create lasting memories: Spend quality time together and engage in activities that hold special meaning for your family. Take photos, reminisce about shared experiences, or even create a scrapbook or video montage to commemorate your time together.
Be present: When it's time to say goodbye, be fully present in the moment. Put away distractions and focus on the people you love. Show them that they are important to you.
Communicate regularly: Even if you're physically apart, make an effort to maintain regular communication with your family members. Phone calls, video chats, and social media can help bridge the distance and keep you connected.
Create new traditions: Establish new ways to stay connected, such as planning annual family reunions or organizing virtual gatherings. These traditions can help you maintain a sense of togetherness despite the physical distance.
Keep a positive mindset: While goodbyes can be difficult, try to focus on the new opportunities and experiences that await you. Embrace the excitement of new beginnings for your family and friends while cherishing the memories you've made with them in the past.
Remember, saying goodbye to family doesn't mean the end of your relationship; it simply marks a new chapter in your lives. Treasure the time you've spent together and look forward to the moments you'll share in the future.
Regardless of staying or going, we only live once and it is important to make the most of our time here on earth. We all want happy endings, and as sad as it is to say good-bye, it is only a "see you later" and God willing that will happen. I saw my friend in April for the first time in 5 years and it was as if I saw her the day before.
Keep on keeping that connection and nothing will be lost. Make the effort and be supportive because leaving is really hard in the beginning, Sending much love to of those who's had to endure that OR Tambo good-bye's.