This is probably the part we all struggle with the most – and it’s something different and deeply personal for every person involved. For the people staying behind, they might feel a level of abandonment. They might feel a hint of anger that they have yet to rationalise. They might feel saddened and/or worried that you will forget them in time. What should be obvious, but is something that I didn’t immediately recognise, is that while we are sacrificing a lot to leave, we are also gaining so much by making the move, but for the people who are staying behind, they experience only a loss. They don’t gain anything by your move. The loss for them is possibly deeper and more significant than it is for us, the ones who have been absorbing, feeling and being absolutely consumed by the various stages of the leaving process since the day we started to even consider the decision.
My last days in South Africa were spent enjoying a lot of quality time with family and friends. I made sure my children were able to process their thoughts and feelings, that they had adequate time to deal with their own goodbye’s and created experiences for them that would be happy and lasting.
Up to about 3 days before leaving, I was coping pretty well for someone who was about to make the biggest change of their entire life… When packing up our house, I even gave myself the proverbial ‘pat on the back’ after working through all my sentimental items, digging through so many happy, even painful memories without shedding a single tear.
While I am recognised by some of my family and friends as someone who copes well in the midst of crisis, someone they can lean on for strength and support and who can put emotion aside and be that “no bullsh!t friend” when they need one… this was getting ridiculous. I silently struggled with why I was the only person to be feeling “OK” and somewhat unemotional, even a little detached from the events that would be unfolding almost just hours away now.
I started to think I was made of steel.
And then it hit me.
One thing triggered another and suddenly I found myself sitting at the hairdresser (for one last wash and blow dry), with tears streaming incessantly down my face. What woman cries at the hairdresser!!!
There are few words to describe the physical heartache that comes with leaving so many such special and meaningful people behind…
I am told it does not get easier.