You’d think it would get easier as time goes on to separate from loved ones. Weather it is from your child who is in a two parent home OR from your young college aged child going back to school OR a newly married daughter going back to her new home OR maybe from a spouse or significant other who travels a great deal – it is hard. We are creatures of connection and bonding, so it does hurt when we separate from our loved ones. We can adapt and develop healthy strategies to work with these normal feelings of upset when we must be away for extended periods from our family.
Here are some things to consider in easing the hurt of separating from loved ones:
- Acknowledge your feelings of upset. Sharing your feelings of upset with another loved one or a friend can help. If need be you can just acknowledge them to your self. Maybe writing your feelings in a journal to validate and externalize them. The important thing is to honor and respect how you feel. It is ok to grieve a bit.
- Put the separation in context. Looking at the bigger picture can help. IF your child lives in two homes, then you might think about what are the healthy parts of this situation. You might concentrate on what is best for your child as to having contact with both of his or her biological parents. IF your child is going back to college, you might focus on the fact that they are preparing themselves for a future that they desire and will hopefully bring joy and happiness to them. Something you want for them. IF your adult child is going back to their new home, you can be happy for them in their ability to have a relationship and live an independent life of their choice. This is a normal, natural progression and one that shows you did a good job. IF your spouse or significant other travels a great deal, you might look at why he or she does this – possibly to provide for the family or make a living doing something that uses their skill set or makes them feel satisfied or happy. The point is to broaden your look outside of yourself. This is not to discount your feelings of upset, but to possibly add to the view by seeing the broader context.
- Retrieve and replay the “Good Times” to become your touchstone. Your memories of good times together are always there to bring back up for reflection and for looking back on in your mind. Even if we are feeling upset, we can let the “good times” we have had come back up to enjoy. Let the “good times” continue to shine and warm your heart.
- Create a solid plan of how to stay connected. This is one of the things that can most help in being separated from the ones you love. This can be a collaborative effort in finding ways that you can still connect if you are not in the same physical place. With today’s technology this is so much easier than it was for past generations. Not only can you call but you can text and email and Skype and what ever else that is available. Let us not forget the handwritten note. It is now a bit of a treat to get a hand written note from a loved one. Small packages or gifts can be exchanged. And of course planning as much physical time together as you can. The trick with all of this is to of course just take time to schedule and plan to do these things that keep us in each other’s lives when we are away from each other. I want to say I am not talking about being invasive or over the top having
to be with another each moment, I am talking about collaborating and finding a mutual plan of action that works on both ends. With of course some spontaneous acts of connecting too.
- Live your own life to the fullest. You now have time to focus on you and what you want to do and achieve. Use this time to really be with yourself and do what makes you happy – whether it is a new work project or an activity that brings you joy or a feeling of satisfaction or fulfillment. You might even see this as a gift of time for you to create or explore or renew yourself, whatever it is that you may need. Choose to be happy and fulfilled.
- Use positive self talk to keep yourself on track. This is saying things to yourself that show you are confident that all is well and will be ok. For example you might say to yourself some of the following: “I miss . . . . . . but I know we can stay connected.” “I am planning on a weekly call to . . . . . . . . so I know we will stay in touch.” “I know this is a good thing for . . . . . . . I am happy for him.” “We are setting up a plan of when to see each other. I know we will stay connected and close.” “I now have time to work on . . . . . . . I am going to enjoy this time working on this.” “Even though I am sad, I know I will be ok.”
So yes it can hurt to separate from your loved ones, but you can stay connected and you can find ways to use this time to still find happiness. Talk with your loved one and make a plan on how to stay connected and then decide for yourself about how you can find your own happiness too. Best wishes on being both separated and connected.