International living is replete with losses. Not only do we feel the loss of friends, family, belongings, and situations back home, but also the loss of competency, familiarity, and functionality in our new location. On top of all that, those we find it easiest to relate to are very transient and we are always saying goodbye.
So what’s the problem? Ungrieved losses have a way of festering below the surface. The can make us flat, or sometimes come out in irritation, anger and frustration. At an even more basic level, we are often unaware that our losses merit any attention at all.
In this article, we'll share the 9 types of losses, so you can identify them in your own life and begin to heal.
But first we start with my own story....
My mom died. Three months later, my stepfather died. He died in a fire that destroyed my childhood home.
verywhere I look, people are together—together with their families, together with their friends, together with their neighbors. Mothers and daughters shop together at the market. Parents with their children play together on the beach. Friends hang out together in cafés, and neighbors sit together in front of their door talking, laughing, and sipping mint tea.
I sit alone.
My family lives on the other side of the world. I have some expat friends who work with me, but they are busy with their own families and their own lives. I keep trying to build relationships with my national friends, but it’s so hard to build trust and deep connection in a foreign language.
I feel alone.
For those of us who feel isolated and alone, how can we find friends to connect with—especially when living in a foreign land with multiple layers of language and cultural barriers?
I vividly remember days (yes, multiple) not wanting to get out of bed. Seeing no way I could ever learn the language, if I could ever make a difference in others’ lives. I could no longer look past the trash on my street, everything became gloomy. I was ready to go home. I had little hope.
Hope. We all know the term and can tell you if we have it or if we don’t. But what is it?! Is it something that just happens to us, or is it something we have some control over?
It’s like a switch deep inside me. I can turn it on, but it’s more common for me to turn it off.
Two whole years had passed by since we had last seen my dad. I had just arrived in Florida, along with my two young children, when my dad called to say that he was driving through the area. I was thrilled. He then went on to mention that he could only stop by long enough to have lunch. Only lunch? Only an hour or two of the day? I felt the loss and sadness begin to well up, so I threw my switch to the “off” position.Read More
I have just recently started to feel like I’m catching a glimpse of the “other side” of my loneliness . . . after six long months here in my native-born country. My heart has been aching with loneliness . . .
These are the same feelings I experience every time I land overseas. These feelings seem to follow me wherever I go.Read More
"Say ‘shukran,’ honey," I whispered.
My two-year old, new lollipop in hand, looked at me out of the corner of her eye.
The Moroccan shop owner burst into a smile, scooped the little girl up and kissed her face.Read More
Learn something new about loneliness that may surprise you by taking this “FUN 10-Question Quiz.” Don’t miss out on the explanations at the end!Read More
One early Wednesday morning, I went to the local souk. There were so many people, so much noise, so much bustling activity. My head was spinning out of orbit as I pushed my way through crowds of djellabas, runaway children, hopeless beggars, and wandering chickens.Read More
Overseas living is like playing an old familiar game of life, but the rules are completely changed. How do I gain competence? How do I progress? How do I “play fairly?” Here are the most important habits to develop in your new game of overseas living. Rehearse them regularly, so you will flourish and succeed in your new “normal.”Read More
Are you feeling a heaviness today? Maybe woke up in a 'funk?' It may be hard to describe, but you know something feels off. Shoulders start slouching, feet feel like lead, steps are slower. You aren’t exactly angry or unhappy or disappointed. Maybe a combination of the three?Read More
Crisis! It appears out of nowhere and tosses us into a dark valley of confusion, stress, and chaos. Whether it’s receiving shocking news from back home, experiencing a terrorist attack in a nearby city, or owing a huge sum in unexpected taxes, we experience similar reactions.Read More
We first arrived in Morocco with two little boys, ages three and five, in tow. Imagine the scene—piles of suitcases, hungry children, sleep-deprived parents. Our boss and his family were out of the country on vacation, and…Read More
Maybe this month is your time to reboot? To step back and reconsider how to fully live in this new season? How can I do that?Read More
We use this word 'healthy' all the time, but what do we mean by it? What does healthy cross-cultural living look like? I've never been able to get this multi-faceted question out of my head.Read More