My 9-year old’s heart is broken in pieces (his description) after saying goodbye to his best friend who moved to Ireland 2 months ago with his family.
Grief can come in many different forms…some without us even knowing it’s a kind of grief we’re experiencing – the loss of a loved one; loss of friendship or a relationship; loss of a dream to name just a few.
I felt the need to write about a particular form of grief that we’re experiencing at the moment as a family. Friends are emigrating and the sense of loss being felt is real. We are reminded how love and loss are so intimately connected with each other; the intertwined emotions of feeling loss to be able to feel the joy of having loved and been loved. It’s the sadness that highlights the joy. Moments in time that have been shared together – there’s a sadness thinking about these moments and then a smile as we remember the joy of having shared that moment together, creating memories.
In one weekend our family had 3 different farewell parties for friends and family emigrating. And I know a lot of us are being touched by this in our lives. Seven years ago, our family were the ones leaving London to come back home to Johannesburg and it was one of the toughest things we’ve had to do, leaving behind friendships and our life that we had built over there during the 7 years of our stay. James, my oldest son, now 13, was 6 years old when he had to say goodbye to his dearest friend and move to a new country. My husband and I were moving home, while the boys were leaving everything they’d known and called home.
For those of us staying we’re left with a gaping hole of sadness because we are no longer part of each other’s daily interactions. There’s the distance but modern technology has definitely closed that gap a little, being able to regularly contact each other. There’s a real sense of loss and longing but slowly things get back to a new sense of normal.
For those leaving on the other hand, there are new and exciting adventures ahead but also the very daunting fact that you have no identity in this new place and that it takes time to form this identity and familiarity. Nothing is normal for a while getting used to new surroundings and figuring out your new community. You may even find yourself missing the strangest things from home…Mrs Balls Chutney; Ouma Rusks; Niknaks just to name a few J
I suppose we learn things as parents over the years…and thinking back maybe for James I tried to make him feel better about his sense of loss because it was so hard seeing him so sad. A few years later and I see Tom experiencing a similar sense of loss and realise he actually needs to feel sad, and it’s okay that he does because it just means that he’s got such a very special friendship and that it’s okay for him to miss his friend. Right now, it’s being able to hold my child’s heart in mine and support him during this confusing time. In doing this, I’ve been able to allow my own heart to feel the sadness that I’ve often tried to bottle up and pretend is not there. It does eventually find its way out.
Every day is a gift. The gift of time. It’s about doing life together. Finding joy in the smallest of things, this is what keeps you going. It’s remembering that we choose joy. It’s okay not to be okay, it’s just not okay to stay there for too long. Love lends strength. In the words from Danny Gokey’s song…you need to ’Tell you heart to beat again…’