Living Abroad

The Grief of an Expat

December 23, 2013

I have taken the past few weeks off from blogging to somehow start to come to terms with the recent loss of both of my parents. And while I now recognize grief will be a life long process I understand I am only beginning to discover what this actually means.

I never anticipated that like most aspects of my life, being an expat has an impact on how I am grieving. In more ways than one.

The Irish Don’t Know Them
I am truly lucky that I have an amazing network of family and friends in Ireland that dropped everything to help us out and be there when we needed it most. But the reality is, few of my friends here ever met mom and dad, and even fewer had an opportunity to really get to know them. It’s sometimes hard having to give adequate background information when I want to share a story or memory. And although everyone is so willing to listen and support me, they simply don’t have a memory or story to share with me in return.

How will I ever repay my friends?
It was the love and support of friends I have known for a lifetime that got me through two funerals in two months. There are no words of gratitude and I simply can not help but feel guilty and wonder how I will ever repay it to them. Will I even be able to be there and hold their hand when they bury their own parents?

The Randomness of Life
I think I have a great relationship with my sister and brother but the truth is they are busy and have their own families. Everyday I shared with mom and dad the randomness of life and all the experiences of living abroad. The truth is I miss so much being able to share the random things…..i just don’t think my sister or brother will care as much as mom and dad how I just discovered they actually do sell corn syrup here, only that it’s called something different. There are just some things that only your best people really care about and I feel like I’ve lost my two best people.

Everything Reminds Me
I thought I would get off easy with the memories. Mom and Dad were only able to visit me in Ireland twice so I figured it would be easier because few physical things or places would remind me of them. The truth is everything reminds me of them. There really is no way to escape grief.

I don’t think being an expat makes grief easier or harder but I do think it is different.

While there is crushing saddnes in our lives right now there is the immense joy that can only come with a new baby in the family. There are days when my heart moves from feeling painfully broken to swelling with wonder and love in a matter of minutes. The fluctuation of emotions is if nothing else exhausting.

And while this week will be the first Christmas without mom and dad, it will also be the Prince’s first Christmas…and we’ll get through it.

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  • Reply Bernie December 23, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    My sincerest condolences and best wishes for the holidays and new year. I have enjoyed reading your blog, as my wife, twin boys (who turn 1 on Christmas), and I will be relocating to Cork (from Seattle) in a month or two for work. I look forward to future updates.

    Take care,

    • Reply bothsidesoftheatlantic December 23, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      Thank you Bernie. Good luck with the move I hope you come to find cork as home like I do. If I can hawk at all please let me know.

  • Reply Priceless Joy February 19, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    I’m sorry I didn’t see this post before now, my deepest sympathies for the loss of your mom and dad. That is sad that they passed within a month of each other. I truly hope now (February) you are now grieving less and enjoying your little Prince more. And may the dawn of each new day make your heart and your days much brighter.

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