Sneaky Relocation Grief

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!

Ready to learn more?

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Will Work for Friends

Where is Home

Will Work for Friends

Will Work for Friends

“Will Work for Friends” was a tongue and cheek article from 20 years ago in the Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine.  I was living in Minneapolis at the time and the issue of finding friends was such an issue in the city, that it made the Minneapolis St. Paul magazine cover.  The cover had man and woman, both in their late twenties holding a carboard sign “will work for friends”.

The original story told the plight of finding friends and how it was so difficult after school and once they had joined the workforce.

Friendship and community connection are critical to the success of a relocation for each family member.  These connections are what ground us. 

Without connections we struggle to find any kind of normal.

Connections from acquaintance to deep “you can call me at 3am”, all weave together to form a sense of security and support.  The connections in the local community make a difference.  They form a cornerstone stability from which a sense of home can be built.

But as adults where do we start? 

Why is it so hard?

Most of us adults think finding friends should be easy, like it was in school.  The magic of school led us to believe that friendships just happen.  We strike up a conversation with that right person and we are Best friends forever or at least until the end of the school year.  It was predictable and we seemed to just have friends.

Except this is not actually the way friendships begin or evolve.

School made us think friendships happened by magic.

Relationships like most everything else evolve.  It begins with an introduction, then getting to know you, the shared experiences, the testing and the deciding.  Each piece is integral to the relationship process.  Because these things happened as a result of the K-12 years we did not see the individual steps in the process and therefore did not know they existed.

So now when we step out into the real world of our new community, we use faulty expectations. This process requires more time and attention than we expect to give it.  This leads us to think we are incapable of connecting or finding friends.  And after the magic does not work, we give up accepting failure.

Beyond the faulty childhood friendship expectations, we typically don’t recognize a shift in rules.

The Rules Changed

When we move more than 30 miles from where we begin, know that the rules of engagement have changed.  If you really think about it, say the next town over, you can see it.  How the community interacts with each other and outsiders.  What the community finds of utmost importance.  Even how they typically vote.

Each community no matter how big or small, has its rhythm and a way of doing things.  This can be pointed out to us in what time is the acceptable time to put on the garbage or whether or not we should support the local sports teams.

He let her go ahead on Christmas Eve!?!!

When my sister visited me in Texas for the first time she went to the grocery store on Christmas Eve around 4pm just before the store were closing at 5pm.  As she stood in line to pay with her 5 items the gentleman ahead of her, with a few more items than her, invited her to go ahead of her.  This was gob smacking to her.  Where she was living everyone was kind and patient but this type of courtesy was rarely offered, especially when both had a similar number of items.

It isn’t that one is better or worse.  It is just that the rules of engagement are different from community to community.

Expecting what’s not there

The other challenge to relocation is that when we live in a part of the country like the one my sister walked into, we begin to EXPECT that is the norm everywhere.  That everyone SHOULD act a certain way, like your neighbors should show up with contact information and a plate of cookies on the day you move in.  Or perhaps neighbors should mind their own business until there is an emergency.

What are your expectations?

But it should be….

When we move into a new community, we expect that it will be like where we came from.  The last community is then the latest point of reference.  Why would it be different?

These “universal truths or expectations” are what get us into trouble the fastest.  Expecting things of people that have no knowledge of how we believe it should be, sets us up for immediate disappointment.

So how do you traverse these things and find your people?

How to find friends…your tribe!

First, understand the relationship process from first meeting to “can call you at 3am”.  There are many different steps and required bridges to cross between them.  See Connections: The power of female friendships by Mary Sheehy.

By understand the process you set reasonable expectations for yourself and others.  One of the biggest mistakes I made year after year was expecting too much of people.  They were kind of weirded out.  Do not, be me.

Second, do what you love!  Find whatever version of what you love in the local community, sign up, make arrangements and get involved.  In doing what you love and are passionate about, you will easily find like minded people who you can build shared experiences with.

Shared experiences are one of the keys to building connected relationships. 

Third, learn – learn – learn.  Use this time and attention to learn about the local community.  Learn those unspoken cultural rules through observation.  Learn what they all get excited about and are passionate about.  Learn and find the places where you fit into this new local community.

No place is perfect and neither are the people.  First learn what is there and then find where you want to participate and …participate.

On the ReloWomen podcast on Thursday we are going to talk a little more about those friendship stages from two perspectives.  It is when we have missed expectations that we do the most damage to self confidence around our ability to make friends.

It does take getting out there and on Thursday I will help you understand how that process flows and relationships evolve so that you are as effective as possible.

If you are ready to learn how

ReloWomen WholeLife coaching can help you.
Click the button below, choose a time and let’s chat.