16 May, 2017

It's a season of grief

We're heading into the annual season of transition here. It's what I wrote about last August (The colander of expat life). 

As an example. These are the OMF missionaries who came to the women's
retreat in March. Two of them have or are retiring this year (which
means they're returning to Canada and Germany). Two are going
on home assignment (Australia and US) and one is a short termer who
won't be here long. One is new to Japan this year, another I've only
known just over a year. That's a lot of movement for just a dozen women.
We live in an expat environment. Missions have a high turnover. Roughly 15-20% of our OMF Japan missionaries are on home assignment at any one time. On top of that, it is well-known in missionary circles that Japan has a higher than average attrition rate for missionaries, so many missionaries we once claimed as colleagues or friends are no longer here and aren't coming back. 

And even more, our family lives almost within spitting distance of the school that four out of the five of us go to every day. International schools have high turnovers. I think our school has a 25% turnover of students every year (lower for teachers). That means 25% of the students who are there now weren't there a year ago. And 25% who are there now won't be there next year. That adds up.

In this kind of environment you make friends and you lose them, often. I listened to a talk on resiliency yesterday and one of the key ways the speaker advocated building up our resiliency was by investing in relationships. I do. But every time I lose one of these friends my resiliency takes a hit. I have to admit that it is getting harder to get up again and invest in someone new.

School finishes in under a month. After that people will leave temporarily, or permanently. Goodbyes will be said, or not said. I'm not sure which is easier.

This article grabbed my attention yesterday, it's called "Embrace the Life You Have". It's especially written about life's disappointments, when life doesn't work out as you'd hoped or planned.

I'm not sure what kind of life I'd dreamed of, but I certainly didn't dream of having so many friends who no longer live in the same country as me. As an aside: I certainly didn't dream of parenting teenagers would be so difficult either!

The article encourages us to "weep deeply over the life you hoped would be". Feel the loss. Then to wash your face and move on to embrace the life God has given.

I'm trying. I'm trying to feel the grief, but also to wash my face and embrace what God's given me. But it isn't easy.


The Mother Experiment said...

It must be hard Wendy.
I had a bit of a cry when you left after a year here. Can't imagine doing that year after year.

Wendy said...

Yes, it's hard. It's hard not to be torn apart by it, but the other hard thing is to not become immune to it. It's easy to sweep it all under the carpet and try not to grieve, but that doesn't work either.