Monday, April 12, 2010

On Being an ExPat and Dealing with Grief

Thank you dear friends for your kind words, prayers, thoughts and emails over the last several weeks. They have been most assuredly felt and appreciated. I'm actually doing much better than my absence would indicate, and have been writing many incredibily insightful and witty posts in my head. Unfortunately, in the busyness of life I have not done well to get them on paper (or screen) and by the time I do get around to thinking about blogging they are neither insightful, witty or timely. *sigh*

But I need to make a start somewhere, and this post seems to be the one bouncing around my head the most.

This grief thing is weird when your life straddles two sides of a great big pond called the Atlantic.
On one side of the pond, this side, life is basically the same. The girls still need to be directed in school (although this has been quite lax honestly), meals still need to be planned and prepared, dishes still have to be washed, Mt. Laundry still needs to be conquered. Everywhere I look things seem *normal*. The only thing that is out of balance is when I reach to make a Friday afternoon phone call and realize that there will not be anyone on the other end of the phone to answer.
On the other side of the pond, life has radically altered. A house sits empty. Court proceedings are making decisions. Attorneys are at work. Decisions need to be made. Relationships are hurting. I know all of this in my head. The problem is, I can't see it. I can't see the empty house or the items that need to be sorted or the bills that need to be paid. And since I can't see it, it all becomes rather theoretic--at least until Friday afternoons when there is not going to be anyone on the other end of the phone line.

So I find myself trying to reconcile my two lives--the altered American life and the status quo British one. And it makes my head hurt. And it makes me tired, mentally and physically. So I stop writing. Even when I know that writing is one way I reconcile my two lives. (Yes, it is this cyclical in my thinking).

It won't always be this way. Some upcoming events will help in the reconciliation. We will be returning to Texas in the nearish future to go through the house and give things away. That will most definitely make this less theoretical and more realitic. I anticipate that is when I will encounter the grief more profoundly as well. I won't have the denial of distance to dampen the grief. After the Texas trip, I will be able to focus on the other big change in our life---moving. German started a new job just as we returned from the funeral (reality was that his first day was supposed to be the day of the funeral and had to be postponed) so he is working away from home Monday through Friday. We have started our house hunting in the area of his new job, but can't realistically plan to move until after the US trip. When we are able to put plans into place to actually live as a family again, and I can stop being a single parent 5 days a week, I should be able to focus more mental energy on moving on and through the grief.

I'm well versed in the techniques of coping with grief. It was one of the areas I focused on in my years as a social worker in nursing homes. That has given me insight into "this is normal" feelings and honestly allowed my head to just kick in and do the things I needed to when I didn't have the mental energy to figure it out. But I will be more content when my two lives stop being parallel and reconnect. Until that happens, chances are I will still remain fairly silent. I promise, I will be back.

6 comments:

Tami Boesiger said...

Take all the time you need, friend. We'll be waiting to read your insights whenever you offer them. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you.

e-Mom said...

Losing a parent--especially your mother--is huge. I remember my loss... You sound well, despite your grieving. (((Hugs)))

The Mellberg Family said...

We have been thinking of you guys. I can't imagine how hard all of this is on you guys but we will see you soon. :)

Vee said...

(((((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))))))))))) My heart goes out to you, Miriam Pauline. And I'm keeping you all in my prayers ... I'm sorry for your loss ...

Nic said...

My dear friend, how I feel for your loss. Your absence around the blogsphere has been noticeable, but yes, take all the time you need to heal, to go through the stages of grief and to breathe. You have so much going on in your life right now with everything, it's only natural that you find yourself kind of at a standstill regarding your grief. With so much happening, it's difficult to know what to do first. You are in my prayers my wonderful friend and know that I'm sending BIG virtual Texas-sized hugs from here in the ATX to you.

Kristin said...

MiPa...I am so sorry I missed the news of your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you dear friend.