"Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all." said Alfred Lord Tennyson wisely. However, us expats know that our's is a life with more than your average quota of loss. We meet people, connect with them, just start getting comfortable in the friendship and it's time for them to leave. They were on a gap year, their work contract ended, they wanted to go home and start a family in their country of origin, or they just got plain sick of living in a different culture. Every time it happens is different, and I think each time it gets harder. We think: can I really go through the process of making friends again just to lose them?
The answer is of course yes, because the other option is to remain alone. But how do you say goodbye? How do you weather the transition between old friends and new?
Firstly, I know that face-timing someone isn't the same as getting a real coffee and a real cake in the same physical space together. So much so that sometimes it can feel like it isn't worth maintaining the connection virtually. However, I'd say that many of the most valued people in my life are people that I haven't seen physically for years. It's hard at first but once you get into your virtual groove together, maintaining the old friendships online can ease the transition from old friends to new.
Secondly, one of the many strengths that expats have is that we're pretty good at being alone (although it's easy to forget that sometimes). Most of us are away from our families, we've traveled alone and we've been through the process of setting up a life in a new place from zero, often with no one. When I start working with a client I always try to avoid giving them new resources. Why? Because most people already have a lot! It's just a question of looking for them, recognizing them and adapting them. If you think back to the last challenges you faced you might be surprised at how well equipped you are to deal with what you're facing now.
Finally, thankfully, there are many expats in the same situation and technology makes it super easy to find them. There are expat Facebook groups, Whatsapp groups, gyms, language schools, all offering the opportunity to meet new people and share experiences. When you're ready to get back out there it's easier than you might think.