Sneaky Relocation Grief

Sneaky Relocation Grief

Grief is the last thing most of us expect in relocation. 

The kids are looking forward to making new friends.  The paycheck bump is AMAZING! And you have always wanted to live here.  What could be better?

Grief though sneaks around, especially for those of us who look forward to relocating.  I love a new adventure…and yet, I will be the first to tell you that relocation grief is real.

Because of my unwillingness to learn how to walk through the grief, I never truly experienced living in London. 

My first adult corporate  relocation was to London.  My husband had an opportunity that would take our little family across the ocean to a part of the world I had always hoped to live, London.  We had a great flat that included someone else washing the towels and sheets. On the underground circle line, all of London was at our finger tips.  Life was fantastic.  It was fantastic for about 9 weeks. 

By 12 weeks, I was lonely and isolated.  I was missing my mom and everyone back “home”. John was at work all day and I had explored as much of the city with a 2 year old that I wished to explore. 

My routine of going out and then writing about our adventures, emailing them back home only entertained me for a few hours a day. By week 12, I was asking for a ticket home.  Just for a few weeks… but, nevertheless, a ticket home.

I thought that would help me ease in to this relocation.  So that I could live in two places at the same time, kind of like a commute.  However, that is not what this was.  This was a relocation.  Learning how to live in a new place.  Not in two places.  And with most things, trying to do two things at once…fully, does not actually work.

Because of my unwillingness to learn how to walk through the grief, I never really experienced living in London.  AND I was distracted and didn’t really live when I was back home.  Neither was normal and neither was home.  Two years where I lived two half lives…and those two halves did not make a whole.

I didn’t know at the time what I was dealing with because it didn’t come as sadness.  It did not present itself as pining for who I didn’t have.  It came in ways that I never connected to grief.

And that is the sneakiest part of relocation grief.

When we do not recognize grief, it infiltrates many areas of life.

When we do not recognize grief,
it infiltrates many areas of life.

Grief’s Many Masks

What makes grief so sneaky is that it shows up in places we are not expecting.  Sure, we expect to be sad or lonely at major holidays or at time of annual events we cannot participate in.  But we do not see it when it shows up at snappy with our spouse or doubting our decisions.

Grief appears in many different ways.  These ways look like emotions which can appear in life for a variety of reasons on their own. However, during times of grief, these emotions become grief’s acceptable masks hiding the grief itself.

Mayo clinic defines grief simply as a reaction to loss. In relocation, we have loss in so many areas of life. When you think about relocation in entirety, it is not surprising that it shows up like this.

Grief’s masks include:

  • Homesickness
  • Numb
  • Loneliness
  • Doubt
  • Loss
  • Overwhelm
  • Frustration
  • Confusion
  • Outright miserable
  • Regret
  • Snappy
  • Explosive
  • Angry and more…

Pause…Taking Time to check in

When you react in a way that slows down a process or causes strife it is time to look back and see if grief is clouding the situation.  Yes we may get angry when a relocation partner fails to do their job, but how angry are we.  And if we were not in the middle of relocation, in regular life, would be act the same way?

In the midst of relocation the busyness can hide grief, especially when it comes in so many different ways.

It is in that pause and an earnestness to seek the truth, that we find it hiding behind one of its masks.  Behind that mask is not as scary as you may believe.  It is only grief that want attention and still wants to hide at the same time.

When we take time to see it without its mast that is when we can begin to move forward.

Why all the emotional masks?

Grief outside of death is something few of us have regular practice with. It is something that many of us avoid looking at or discount with personal judgement.

“I shouldn’t be feeling this way.”

“Do you know how blessed you are?”

“This is a good thing.  What’s your problem?”

All of this personal judgement pushes grief underground. But like many things we push down it doesn’t stay there long.  The more we push, ignore and fight…the more we feed it and the bigger it gets. This is when it appears in the many different ways listed above.

It has to come out, and one of those ways is more acceptable to many of us than the grief itself.  And with that mask it is allowed out.

Allowing Grief

Once grief is identified, then and only then, can we allow it and then begin to walk through it.

On Thursday’s ReloWomen podcast, how you walk through grief will be discussed in detail.

For the remainder of this blog we will spend a little time talking about allowing grief. 

Typically, a painful emotion will be pushed down, avoided or even fought.  Have you ever tried to be calm or tried to be patient?  It is like holding a large beach ball under the waters.  At first it is kind of fun to try and hold it there, but soon we get tired and POP! It comes shooting out of the water not to be held down.

Grief is like that.  It will not be ignored.

To avoid the pop the most effective strategy is to allow it.  Allowing grief or any negative emotion is best done by almost stepping outside of yourself and observing what is going on within you. Imagine sitting beside yourself and providing compassion and a guiding hand.  This 3rd party observation will lessen the sharpness of the emotion and allow you to really see the grief…all aspects.  What it is tied to. What it means to you. What it means about the future.

It is in the allowing that we can even find peace.  It is funny thing about us humans we can experience multiple emotions at the same time.  By experiencing the grief and also compassion for ourselves we can then find peaceful moments.  This is where energy is regained so that we can face the prospect of another day.

Grief does not mean anything has gone wrong….

Grief does not mean anything has gone wrong. It is representation of a beloved season that has passed.  All is not gone.  Life has only changed, into something new.

Join me on Thursday’s ReloWomen podcast for the conclusion of Sneaky Relocation Grief.  Learn now to walk through it and in that, create your dream life in your new community.

If it is time to NOT relocate alone.  If you are looking for tools and guidance to relocate and finish strong, tryout WholeLife Relocation Coaching today! 

I so look forward to meeting you!

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