Time to say goodbye

Yasmeen and I have noticed recently that a few of our students have been leaving with very little notice. Every child has a different story and a different reason, and yet some are also sadly unaware that they are about to leave the place they have called home. Today I bumped into a Grade 2 boy, who informed me that tomorrow is his last day, I was already aware of this and so was his homeroom teacher. When I asked him how he felt about leaving he stated he was sad, but also excited to be going back to where he was from, although he would miss all the friends he had made here at Kaust.

Children are very versatile and thankfully most adapt well to change however we wanted to give you some ideas of how to make that change as smooth as possible for your children, even if the change is moving back to Jeddah from Kaust, it is still a process and a loss for your child, as well as yourself.

“People living the globally mobile life can have healthy closures by learning how to build a RAFT. Just as you would rope together logs to construct a rudimentary float to safely cross a body of water, expatriates must tie together four important basics to help them transition well to the other side. The four “logs” of the RAFT are:

Reconciliation

Affirmation

Farewells

Think Destination

Reconciliation

It is tempting to leave unfinished business when we are moving away to start a new life. Unresolved misunderstandings or other relationship tensions are often easier to run away from than to deal with. But unsettled conflicts are like mental baggage that we carry with us and can interfere with building healthy new relationships on the other side. We need to make relationships right with people before we leave or we will harbor bitterness and discontentment which will not only prevent us from moving onto the next “log” but can even manifest later in life as physical ailments.

Reconciliation means asking for and granting forgiveness for past hurts. Whether you have been hurt by someone else or was, perhaps unknowingly, the perpetrator of the grievance, forgiveness must take place. Many times relationships sour without our understanding of what caused the split. This is the time to find out.

We need to ask ourselves, “Who do I need to apologize to?” or “Who would I like an apology from?” Sometimes parents must help their children identify the hurts so they, too can reconcile relationships. And sometimes we really don’t want or need an apology, but just discovering the reasons for soured relationships can begin the restoration.

There are many ways to reconcile a relationship. The most direct manner would be a person-to-person discussion, but if there is a lot of tension, the use of an intermediary might facilitate the process. A handwritten note or apologetic card is always acceptable and even email is today considered a suitable route of communicating. Whatever the method used, forgiveness, given or received, frees us to move ahead and heal.

Affirmation

Just as it feels good to forgive someone, it also warms our souls to affirm those who are important to us. We need to let the special people in our lives know how much we have loved, respected and appreciated them. Affirming others helps us as much as it does the other person. It brings closure and acknowledges them as important to us in this place. Who are the people in your life that deserve special recognition? Is there a favorite baby sitter, neighbor, teacher, mentor, coach or cleric that has been a big part of your or your family’s life?

Just as there are many ways to reconcile with others, so there are any number of ways to affirm others – tell them directly or bring them a note, card, cookies, flowers or a personal memento of times spent together. This could even be the time to give away some of the items you cannot take to your new home. There is comfort in knowing that someone special is enjoying them now.

Farewells

Nothing brings us to closure better than being able to say those two little words – good-bye. Make a list of all your favorite people, places, pets and possessions and plan a proper farewell. It could be visiting the pet you had to give away to a trusted family friend for the last time. Perhaps visit your favorite thinking spot and skip a stone across the pond one more time or plant a tree in your favorite park.

I know of one family whose small children went around their beloved playground saying farewell to their favorite swing, climbing rope and tree. Another family took a picture of every room in their house before and after the packing boxes. And yet another buried a time capsule in their backyard with photos, letters and trinkets in the hope that they could one day return.

Farewell parties are a wonderful way of making more memories while celebrating the richness of the past and looking ahead to the future. Even if someone else has planned a party for you, think about staging your own to be certain you will be able to say farewell to those you care about the most.

Think Destination

While still in the throes of farewells it is important to begin thinking ahead. What will you and your family need in your new destination? Can you take everything with you or must you leave some things behind? Will you require different clothing for the new climate? Will it be necessary to replace your appliances? What will the food and other shopping be like there? Do you already have a place to live or will you need to stay in a hotel until you find one?

Try to learn as much about your new environs as possible before you leave. Get your hands on guide books, maps, pictures and internet sites for your new destination. Assign every member of the family a fact finding task and sit down together to share the information. Do you know of someone living there now who can answer questions for you?

Leaving a place you have been rooted in for any amount of time is never easy, but making the time for proper farewells is something no one has ever regretted. Proper closure and forward thinking help pave a smooth road to transition and reduce the stumbling blocks of adjustment.” (taken from: http://expateverydaysupportcenter.com/saying-good-bye-this-month-build-a-raft/)

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