“I’m leaving.” These are the words everyone dreads hearing. Words that cut you to the core, especially when the person saying them has always been there for you. You’ve been through everything together for years and now they’re abandoning you to start a new life, or at least that’s how it feels. What are you supposed to do now?
I’ve already written about How to Survive Moving Abroad and, in An Open Letter, I demonstrated how not to do it. But what about the people left behind? How are they supposed to cope with the gaping hole left in their lives? Hopefully, these tips will help anyone who’s ever felt abandoned.
1. Your best friend is not dead
It’s okay to miss your friend and even go through a grieving experience but there’s one important thing to remember – your friend is not dead and neither is your friendship. The person who has always been there for you will still be there whenever you need them. The only difference is it will be at the end of the phone.
2. Be happy for them
You will likely feel a lot of emotions when your friend moves away, including sadness, jealousy or anger. This is okay; after all, you’re only human. However, don’t hold on to those emotions. Don’t let them fester and eat you up. Friendships need to be based on positivity. Learn to be happy for your friend. A true best friend won’t have a problem with this.
3. Accept that they will make new friends
This is inevitable. You can’t move to a new place and not meet people. We all need people to help us through life. It’s highly likely that your friend will want to regale you with tales about the people they’ve met. Let them! Don’t get jealous. Listen to the stories and laugh along. Also, take this opportunity to meet other people in your area. It’s scary but it will help you grow as a person.
4. Understand that they won’t be available 24/7
It’s going to be tough. Things will happen and you’ll want to call up your friend immediately and tell them but you can’t. Don’t freak out. We have so much technology at our disposal that keeping in contact is easy. Send them a message on WhatsApp or Snapchat or Facebook or whatever form of social media you prefer and be patient. They’ll get back to you when they can.
5. Don’t get angry if they forget to respond
It’s not nice feeling like you’ve been forgotten but it happens. Life gets crazy and we all have our own things going on. Don’t sulk or get angry if your friend doesn’t respond. Just send a stupid message or picture to remind them. They didn’t do it on purpose and more than likely will feel very bad about it.
6. Go on holiday
Your friend moving abroad is the perfect excuse for a holiday. You’ve got a free place to stay so jump on a plane and go! See what all the fuss is about. Meet the people they talk about. This way, when they mention people or places in the future, you’ll actually know what they’re talking about. Bonus – you get to make some new friends, too.
7. Don’t expect your friend to come home
We all move away for different reasons. Some of us have strong ties to our hometown and some of us would like quite happily if we never saw the place again. Don’t try to blackmail your friend into coming “home” to see the people they left behind. It’s selfish. Your friend has a new home now. It doesn’t mean they don’t still love you.
8. Don’t hog your friend when they visit
If your friend comes back for a visit, it’s understandable that you will want to spend as much time with them as possible. However, they will likely have other friends and family to see as well. Coming home for holidays is stressful, especially if you have a big family. Trying to squeeze everyone in is difficult and there’s inevitably someone who gets left out. Don’t add to the stress by guilt tripping your friend into spending time with you. If she only has a day free to see you, make it the best day ever. Enjoy yourself!
I want to finish this blog post with my own personal story. Meet my sister, Leanne, and my best friend, Kirsty. We have been friends since we were 16. We have been through everything together. We haven’t lived in the same country since I left for Paris in 2010 but we are still thick as thieves. Kirsty now lives in Spain with her family, while Leanne and I live in Italy. Sometimes we don’t speak for a few days but it doesn’t matter. We know we’ll always be there for each other. Not once has Kirsty ever made me feel bad for following my own path, even if it takes me far away from her. That is what best friends do and that is why I love her.
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