Preparing to leave

The last few weeks before moving abroad

The decision has been made, the location chosen and many of the logistics and practicalities have been sorted already; you’re fast approaching D-Day. This is when we start to get reflective and focus on the emotional rather than the practical considerations.

Moving overseas can be an emotional minefield and you need as much help as you can get to negotiate the leaving part without collateral damage.

Last times

These ‘last times’ creep up on you and you need to be prepared.

The last day at work is a momentous occasion and worthy of a few celebratory drinks with friends and colleagues.

Your child’s last day at school is very note-worthy and should be marked in some way as an exciting transition. Helping your child say goodbye to their friends is a very important step towards a smoother transition to their new life. A leaving party just for them is a good move.

So far so good – but there’s a line and once you cross it ‘the lasts’ can become all consuming and overly emotional.

The last Sunday dinner at your parents’ house; the last trip to the park; the last dash around the supermarket; the last time you’ll catch the number 47 bus; the last time you’ll mow the lawn; the last Tuesday in your house… stop! Yes, these are things that you might not do or see again (for a while at least) but in reality, very few of them have significance.

When we start to focus on ‘the lasts’ we start to encourage a feeling of deprivation and sadness and the more ‘lasts’ we can add, the worse that feeling gets. Negativity is a hard habit to break so the best advice is not to start it in the first place.

Every ‘last’ opens the door for a ‘first’ so be the glass half full kind of person and turn these thoughts around.

Soon it will be the first Tuesday in your new house, the first time you catch a new bus to a new workplace, the first family dinner around your new dining table, the first time you’ll mow your new lawn… these things are exciting! Look forward, not back.

Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.

Saying goodbye

When you’re leaving your home for new pastures, it’s surprising just how many connections you’ll have made over the years and how many people want the opportunity to say goodbye and wish you luck. Some of them genuinely, some just wanting in on the action and an excuse for a good night out… and possibly with an eye for a free holiday at some point.

Be clear right from the start – you do not have time to meet up with everyone individually, nor do you have the mental energy for lots of drawn out farewells, with tears and regrets and drama.

Don’t feel the need to accommodate everyone – second cousin Elizabeth who you haven’t seen for 10 years but who thinks it’s all very exciting and wants to bring her entire entourage of children to say goodbye – probably isn’t a priority. Make sensible arrangements with the people you want to see; combine friends and colleagues into a few gatherings rather than trying to see everyone individually and encourage people to come to you, rather than making extra travel plans to visit them.

Save the best for last, get all the casual acquaintances out of the way in a few easy to arrange social occasions and save your time and your energy for meaningful one-to-one goodbyes with those who mean the most to you. These will be emotional so be prepared for some tears – but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture; stay in the moment and try to always look forward. The best is yet to come.

PS. Airport goodbyes are extremely difficult and traumatic. Avoid if at all possible!

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