Question: Dear Luise: I am having a very difficult time letting my son go. He has been away from home for a very long time, thirty-three years, yet I still have a tough time when his summer visit to the mainland ends and he returns with is wife, whom I love dearly, to their home is Kauai. They come over here because they don’t like the intense summer heat in Kauai and the high humidity. They also have lots of friends here and want to spend time with us. Their summer place is close by but we give each other lots of privacy and don’t live in each other’s pockets. Still, when fall comes and they leave, right after my husband’s birthday, I feel like my heart will break. We are good friends and stay in touch the rest of the year, via email, but it’s not the same. How can I move though this yearly experience more gracefully? Melissa
Answer: Dear Melissa: I don’t know of any easy way to do that. I wish I did! It’s one of those situations in life that you can’t go around, over or under…you have to go through it to get to the other side.
When something like that gets me down, one of the things I do is a series of Gratitude Lists. They keep me from focusing my entire attention on my loss and they dilute the pain to some degree. They don’t stop it, however. I just sit quietly and write what is positive about a situation. In your case, I would write about the power of love and the beauty of closeness. I would outline special experiences and my reactions to certain circumstances. One by one, I’d bring to light everything I felt grateful for…and I would do it often, at first.
I think I would also remind myself that such friendships aren’t guaranteed and many parents don’t get to experience them in such a relaxed and delightful way. You could have your son next door all year round and have nothing in common. It happens.
This year, when the time comes for them to head for the airport, why not give yourself a special treat? If you take them there, arrange to meet a close friend afterwards and enjoy a nice meal and a good visit. If there’s a way to do it, take a little mini-vacation with your husband and focus elsewhere.
I’m sure you have learned from years of having this happen, that you do adjust. You get used to him being gone and your life again feels full and rewarding. The trick is to find ways to make the transition less painful. Not painless, that’s not a very reasonable goal…but do-able.
There is a very hard to achieve balance between thinking about your loss too much and trying not to think about it at all. Seek the middle road. Blessings, Luise