Feelings of Loss As An Expat Mom 

Published on: July 11, 2020

This is Mareike’s personal account on how she empathized with her daughter losing a friend who’s relocating and how she dealt with it.  

By Mareike Schoenig  

Being an expat is all about meeting all kinds of people. We meet them, get to know them, enjoy every moment together, and eventually create a bond and become real friends. They become “family” in a life where most of our biological families can’t be with us daily.

At the same time, it is also part of our expat life to bid farewell to people who we spend wonderful times with. People who we shared precious experiences with. People we loved. And still do.

My daughter was barely two and a half years old when she had to experience loss in some way — saying goodbye to two of her toddler friends. One of them was rather special because she was the one friend my daughter approached by herself. She wanted to be with that little girl. It was a choice made from deep inside her heart. She talked to her, they clicked, and their friendship was born. It was inspiring. Their eyes would shine every time they saw each other. They cared for each other beautifully. They loved each other with their little hearts.

I had a smile on my face when they both, half-naked, crashed into the pool to ride their bobby cars. It was lovely to watch especially when mundane things such as taking a shower together became fun and special. Oh, I truly enjoyed every episode of their friendship!

Then the time came when the friend and her family had to return to their home country. We were about to deal with loss in our life. Again.

A loss can be anything from losing a person because of death or moving away to losing things or habits such as misplacing the wedding ring or the unavailability of morning coffee runs. Any of these moments in life surface feelings of loss within us. Those feelings can be tremendous or gentle. They can manifest as rejecting the truth, being angry about the new reality, or simply being sad because we are missing someone we don’t want to miss. 

In my case, I have experienced some, if not all, of those loss-related feelings mentioned above. What I have not experienced yet is empathizing with my daughter’s loss in her life — such as what I felt when I knew she won’t be able to see her amazing little toddler friend anymore. I struggled to accept the fact that my daughter’s life took a turn I didn’t wish it to take. My eyes filled with tears when I remember their laughter and giggles. My heart jumped when I recalled the times they hugged and cared for each other.

And all of this left me clueless. Insecure. Afraid. And doubtful. My feelings were very strong and overwhelming. They occupied many hours of my day. Whatever I tried, those feelings wouldn’t ease.

Until the next day, when I realized that I was stuck and didn’t know what to do with my feelings. I began to worry that I wouldn’t be able to support my daughter’s feelings in this situation until I managed to get clarity of my own. 

I went and asked for a coaching session. Being a coach myself, I have multiple coaching friends and I asked my Life Coach friend Ysaline for help. 

Coaching is an incredible, profound, and lasting experience that helps to enhance our wellbeing. We can feel more complete, develop new behaviors, create new habits, and even change our point of view.  

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with this coaching session. Finding a way to release my feelings didn’t feel right. But continuing with those feelings took so much energy that I was not willing to spare either.  So Ysaline allowed me to “download”. She asked me about my feelings, my worries, my doubts, and my uncertainties. She allowed me to hold on to all my fears and at the same time imagine what my life would be like without them. She helped me to root everything down to where I was able to make a choice. It became clear that the anchor for this overwhelming sadness was based on one belief: I am not good enough to be liked by others so that they want to be my friend. 

I was holding on to my daughter’s friend through my strong, sad feelings because I felt guilty of removing a precious friend from her life otherwise. I want my daughter to have special friends and to experience the joy of friendship. I was worried my daughter would become a toddler with no friends if I accepted that her friend is not part of our daily life anymore. That she will be alone with no friends. 

Why was I worried about that? Because I don’t have the trust in myself that I am truly good enough to be liked and loved by others so that they really want to be friends with me. I projected this belief onto my daughter’s life. I realized I wanted my daughter to feel good enough and to experience the joy of friendships as positive imprints for her developing brain. I definitely did not want to pass on my own worrying belief.

I made the choice to pause my sad feelings for a bit and expose her to other toddlers. I took her outside and she connected with other toddlers immediately. Wow! I was feeling wonderful. The experience gave her confidence and imprinted the feeling of being good enough. At the same time, I felt secure and it eased my fears. I developed gratitude for each and every moment that my daughter and her stunning little toddler friend had shared. I am now able to hold these memories with joy and fulfillment to help keep their friendship alive despite the long distance. The coaching session clarified and created a win-win situation for both my daughter and me. I felt something I have never felt before. And I am happy I did. It was a wonderful experience.   

Photos by Moshe Harosh and Georg Auffarth on Unsplash.

About the Author

Mareike Schoenig is a Transformational Life Coach. She helps you to connect with your feelings and assists you in becoming clear about your wants and needs to create a meaningful and fulfilled life. Coaching has always been a powerful experience for her, and she would love you to experience this too. For a complimentary 60-minute coaching session email her at coaching@mareikeschoenig.de / mareikeschoenig.de.

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