Living overseas can sometimes feel like a complete detachment from reality. In a city as thrilling as Tokyo, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement and adventure of immersing ourselves in a new culture. Meanwhile, life back in our home country feels as if it stands still.
Unfortunately, for many, that blissful bubble can burst with one dreaded phone call—a loved one has passed. Suddenly the city that we’ve come to call home becomes the loneliest place on earth. The rush of mixed emotions is impalpable. We’re hit with grief, heightened by the distance from family, regret for not spending enough time with them and guilt for selfishly choosing life as an expat.
Dr Mira Simic-Yamashita, a psychologist and therapist based in Kobe, gives us advice on how to overcome these feelings.
What’s the best way to get past the guilt of missing out on time spent with a loved one before their passing?
One way of overcoming grief is instead of focusing on what you didn’t do, focus on what you did do for them while they were alive. Maybe you were talking to them often, encouraging them or helping them financially. Maybe you were able to experience some special moments together because you lived far from them. You will likely realize that you did more than you thought and that you showed your love and devotion in different ways while they were alive.
How can we support grieving family members from so far away?
Support is so much more than just being with them in person. Talking to and sharing the sadness of losing a loved one can often deepen the bond between family members. It’s a valuable opportunity to reconnect while keeping the memory of the deceased alive. You can also offer some practical help:
Call the insurance companies
Help make some funeral arrangements
Send financial support
All of that can easily be done from a distance. Not only will it help them but it will also help you feel like you’re part of the process.
Some people can’t make it to the funeral, how can they get closure?
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