Farewell at distance

Last month my aunt passed away. She was very ill and couldn’t be treated for cancer anymore. She was such a brave person, carrying her destiny with courage and trust. Even in her final months, when she knew death was waiting for her around the corner, she stayed positive and caring for her loved ones. Oh man, how greatly I respect her strength to go with such dignity. May she find peace.

There were more than 10.000 kilometers between this life event and me. Living abroad means you miss out on special moments, the happy and the sad ones. Not being in my home country doesn’t mean it doesn’t impact me. Never before I have valued family time as much as now, not being able to be with them. To share memories together, to laugh and cry, to talk and be silent to hold and support. Spending time together and gathering to respect and honour a family member is a big part of a coping process; to say goodbye, to let go and to find peace. I wish I could have been there to support my uncle and cousins who I appreciate so much. I would have wanted to hold my mother’s hand and give her a huge hug. Not only at the funeral, but also after when the loss is present in daily life.

“Spending time together and gathering to respect and honour a family member is a big part of a coping process”


Stay connected with your roots

We have had more family members that have passed away, but this is the first time I am not able to be with my family. I realise this will not be the only time and that I have to act consciously to make these life events part of my life. Not paying attention to any feelings or thoughts will make me unattached to my family roots and home country. Walking away from any involvement will make the family ties vanish.

Staying connected in meaningful relationships is extremely important for your identity and mental health, even or maybe even more while living abroad. These relationships can be family or friends. You might not be aware of it, but it’s relationships that influence your identity and contribute to the person that you are today. Even if you don’t feel attached to your family or friends too much or don’t see them too often. They are part of your life and it is up to you in what way you stay connected to them. And the way you connect to others will affect your well-being, happiness and satisfaction in life.

“Staying connected in meaningful relations is extremely important for your identity and mental health.”

Acting consciously

Acting consciously means making space for a mental process. Just like my family that is able to gather to say goodbye, I have to take time and create a moment to remember and honour my aunt. It has been so meaningful to me that my cousin had sent me the recording of his speech. I was moved to tears hearing his voice and the words he spoke about his mother. My sister is a singer and had sent me the recording of the song she wrote and would sing at the funeral. I was glad to have spoken to my mum just prior to my aunt’s death. Despite that she was sad, I could hear how grateful she was for the precious last moments with her sister in law. It all contributed to me feeling being part of a group of beloved people that are there for each other if needed. Even being at distance I could be part of the rituals that people carry out to wish one farewell. Additional, I had my own moment of silence too.



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