Death is part of life…
If there is anything most expats don’t even, consider when planning to move abroad is death. Hopefully, for most, it doesn’t occur, but death is part of live. Whether you are home or abroad, death happens and there isn’t anything we can do about it.
Being on the other side of the world has this strange way of making you feel like time stands still at home. So, when a situation like this occurs, it almost doesn’t feel real. C. S Lewis identifies three stages we go through when we face death: shock, grief and resolution. But, we know, those are just theories…There is no typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our life.
In this digital age we live, finding out through social media, the death of loved ones has become more and more common. And, rather than the creepy call in the middle of the night, the news is announced to us over and over, each time we turn on the screen. Often, our mourning ends up taking the same approach that the announcement did. We change our profile photo, post public condolences and maybe, even post a little memory of the loved one. The benefit of this digital connection for those far away is to connect instantly and “mourn together over social media” even though it feels rather empty.
Then comes the new issue. What shall I do? Should I go home? Should I attend the funeral? Although attending helps accept the reality of death, sharing the loss with other family and friends can bring comfort to the newly bereaved expatriate, truth is, not everyone can get back immediately.
Keep in mind
- Participate as much as possible in the mourning ceremony.
- Look at pictures, talk with people that were close to the deceased, and, if you are far away, email them, call them, skype. Just get in touch.
- Rely on your network both, here, and, home. Share your feelings with people around you.
- If you identify that you are getting very angry with people around you, bear in mind that your anger may be deflected from your mourning process.
- Its ok if you can’t make it home to say goodbye or, for the funeral. Make peace with your decision.
So, yes, grieving as an expat is a real threat. Take care of yourself! Like it or not, time heals
Ines Estrada Vigil