May 2016


However, it is vital for your long-term wellbeing also to acknowledge that you have needs of your own, and to take real steps to ensure they are met. In particular, ask yourself: • What support do I want at this time, and from whom? • What regrets can I avoid by taking action now? • What expectations are being placed on me that I resent or reject? For Todd, the dire state of his father’s health triggered a need in him to play the protective older brother. “I hadn’t spoken to my father in years and would have been OK staying in Singapore,” he explains. “But I knew my sister needed me and I wanted to be there to support her.” Go home with a purpose In some situations, the decision to fly home to be with family and the timing around that is self-evident. But in many cases, the trauma or tragedy is a lengthy process and being away from Singapore for the entire time is not feasible. This can create an added level of uncertainty and instability. Should you travel? For how long, or how often, can you realistically leave your expat life to be with loved ones? If you stay there, will you miss out on something important here? Is it selfish to want to come back? Having a predetermined purpose if, and when, you fly home can help establish a sense of certainty and clarity. For Todd, his trip home was all about reconnecting with his father; he set the intention to say everything that had been left unsaid, to hear stories that would otherwise be forgotten and to tell his dad that he loved him. Armed with this clarity of purpose, Todd was able to discern when the time was right to return to his expat life. “I had planned to stay for two weeks, but after ten days I realised that I had done, said and heard everything I had intended. I came back to Singapore with a sense of completion and no regrets.”

Your purpose may be to spring clean someone’s house, to assist after a surgery or simply to say your final goodbyes. The vital component is to know what you are hoping to achieve and focus your energies on fulfilling that purpose. Invent ways to help One of the most distressing realities of dealing with distance is the general sense of helplessness and, often, guilt. However, in today’s connected world there are many ways you can offer help and support from your base in Singapore. Aside from regular Skype or telephone calls, you may find practical ways to alleviate stress for loved ones back home such as buying home-delivered meals, paying for a gardener or handyman, funding a bookkeeper to pay household bills or coordinating a roster of nearby friends and family to make visits. Be inventive and realise that, although the distance may prevent you from holding a loved one’s hand, you have many opportunities to reduce pressure in their daily life. By offering support – even indirectly – you can take comfort in knowing that you are doing something constructive, being helpful, and contributing to the healing process.



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