Lynn Frank, coordinator & co-founder of the parents support group in Luxembourg, Passage, discusses a problem often faced in the transitional population of Luxembourg. The emotional cost of mobility.
I’m losing one of my best friends this summer. Whilst she is moving back to England, I’m being abandoned: left behind, the one who ‘stays’. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic… it’s not like she’s moving THAT far away and with modern technology there’s no reason not to keep in touch. But you have to understand that part of my picture, my story is going with her.
We met when our youngest children were babies and significantly they have shared every birthday since, even when out of 13 boys, my daughter was the only girl (age 6). They went to playgroup, crèche, learnt to walk, run, swim and do karate together. Play-dates, sleepovers and shared journeys in the back of cars to days out at parks and other attractions. They play like siblings and share a humour that is only borne out of that intimacy.
I dragged my friend unwittingly into ‘things’ – committees, communities and conversations. Well, she may have dragged me in a couple of times… it was like that. Both of us trying to find a place to fit in our new adopted home.
We created a picture of ourselves in Luxembourg with each other in it.
The Heart of the Matter
In practical terms I do not know what to tell my daughter, in emotional terms I do not know what to tell my heart. Or should I say, how to listen to it. Listening to your heart actually takes time and courage. We always say “listen to your heart and you will know if you are making the right decision”, but there is also another listening. When your heart says “I don’t want this – it hurts” or “I don’t want change – I want everything to stay the same”, but you are an adult and you know that you cannot freeze time. Everything changes; it is the nature of life – and loss is a natural part of this cycle.
This of course is not the first time I have lost a friend or they have willingly or unwillingly exited my picture. But it feels like the one that brings all the others into focus. In his book ‘Safe Passage’ (2015), Doug Ota warns of the accumulation of grief if we do not learn how to let go and say goodbye. I believe as an adult, and especially a parent, it is our job to contain these emotions and teach our children (and ourselves) that they are all part of the cycle of life.
But and here is the big ‘but’… sometimes I think we tend to intellectualise the process of change, of loss, of even bereavement – anything that may hurt us emotionally. We ‘contain’ it by cutting out the heart and we teach ourselves, and our children, not to listen.
The heart of the matter is that I love my friend and my daughter loves her son. We will miss them and it feels like our picture puzzle has been thrown up in the air for a while. So as I kneel at my daughter’s feet to tell her, I also kneel at the centre of my heart.
Because change is inevitable; it is ‘the way it is’ and so is love, attachment and the meaning we bring into our lives. To truly embrace our humanity, we need to honour all the feelings that endings may bring.
Photo: Léa Dubedout/Unsplash