Family Relations: How do I accept and adjust to family moving away?

Posted by normawatkins @normawatkins, Sep 7 7:30am

I am 92. My only family, a son and his wife of 22 years are planning to move to her native country where I would not be able to migrate. Their expressed reasons for moving are to be near her siblings (after living 40 years elsewhere), political unrest in the U.S., and "just want a change". I am in good health, live independently, and make few demands on them, but we stay in touch by phone and e-mail, as I live 25 miles from them. We have always had a very good relationship. I cannot afford an Assisted Living facility as I age. How can I deal with this situation fairly and realistically? At present I am devastated and feel abandoned by my only loved ones. How can I accept this with understanding?

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Oh how sad! I can imagine how that must feel. Mind you; I am single (not that I want to be) and have no children (but I really wanted to). So I can only imagine it and it's sad.
This feels like abandonment, you write. But you also write you had a very good relationship.
You write down the reasons for them to move, but not how they expressed their feelings. Did they show you how they feel about it?
They must have been thinking about this a long time and it would have been nice if they had discussed this with you sooner. But this didn't happen and you are now confronted with their decision, which may make you feel mostly the bad things.
Were you able to discuss your feelings or were you too upset?
It is natural to feel upset. It would be good if they let you cry, lament, and whatever you feel like doing after this news. This is a time to be sad; it's a natural reaction.
Maybe if they share more about their move, show you photos, show you how you can engage, help you set up a laptop for instance so you can do video meetings, this would help. It won't feel the same, it won't be the same. But if they help you coming to grips with this situation it will help you heal.

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@ellamster

Oh how sad! I can imagine how that must feel. Mind you; I am single (not that I want to be) and have no children (but I really wanted to). So I can only imagine it and it's sad.
This feels like abandonment, you write. But you also write you had a very good relationship.
You write down the reasons for them to move, but not how they expressed their feelings. Did they show you how they feel about it?
They must have been thinking about this a long time and it would have been nice if they had discussed this with you sooner. But this didn't happen and you are now confronted with their decision, which may make you feel mostly the bad things.
Were you able to discuss your feelings or were you too upset?
It is natural to feel upset. It would be good if they let you cry, lament, and whatever you feel like doing after this news. This is a time to be sad; it's a natural reaction.
Maybe if they share more about their move, show you photos, show you how you can engage, help you set up a laptop for instance so you can do video meetings, this would help. It won't feel the same, it won't be the same. But if they help you coming to grips with this situation it will help you heal.

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I know that would help me deal with this in a more balanced way. We have not had the discussions as we are all upset, they feel guilty but conflicted, and I have no idea what I should be reasonably able to expect from my only family, and a bit frightened of having no support at my age. But talking and time to process will hopefully ease the distress. Thank you.

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It will take courage and an open heart to discuss things. Since your relationship is good this may go well.
Also: be curious about how you are feeling, question yourself and wonder why you are feeling this way; fear and sadness are not merely 'the state you're in' but a reaction to what is going on.
Just remember you love one another and hang in there 💖 And post an update! 😊

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I am sorry. What you wrote is a huge loss. I understand the reasons they want to leave, but I hope they stay with you. Time goes by so quickly and we need family. I have two children and I have been told they will not care for me when I age. They are selfish. It is their culture, not mine. I took care of my parents who passed, one at age 95 and the other 93. But I was raised to take care of my elders, as my parents took care of theirs. It was a love sacrifice and my children took care of their grandparents, even when they didn't want to. But still that love sacrifice and family does not mean as much to them as them getting what they want. You sound like a very wonderful person and will accept this as I have, but it is sad and I wish you the best

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@lindasmith1222

I am sorry. What you wrote is a huge loss. I understand the reasons they want to leave, but I hope they stay with you. Time goes by so quickly and we need family. I have two children and I have been told they will not care for me when I age. They are selfish. It is their culture, not mine. I took care of my parents who passed, one at age 95 and the other 93. But I was raised to take care of my elders, as my parents took care of theirs. It was a love sacrifice and my children took care of their grandparents, even when they didn't want to. But still that love sacrifice and family does not mean as much to them as them getting what they want. You sound like a very wonderful person and will accept this as I have, but it is sad and I wish you the best

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Thank you so much, Linda. It's a great comfort to hear of your acceptance of this difficult situation. Perhaps we are living between two very different cultures as the number of "Senior" Care facilities everywhere indicates we are not alone in this. I was raised with those values, too, and not prepared for such a different family response. I wonder what's to come when our children are our age, but perhaps they will know what to expect. I wish you well and greatly respect your response to a painful experience.

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This will be a big change for you and are probably going through something similar to stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

Like others have mentioned, it is getting rarer that the next generation feels obligated to help the previous generations. I am single and not a lot of support from siblings as I deal with medical issues; so have accepted the fact that I cannot rely on them as I age. When time comes, I will find housing where I feel safe and help available if needed. Unfortunately as population ages, that type of housing is hard to find or expensive. Some areas have agencies that can help with this process.

You mention you can live independent so you're probably not ready for assisted living but an alternative may be a senior living situation. This would give you more social interactions and people around in case of an emergency. Some senior complexes are income based.

Have you thought of asking your son to assist you in locating housing in a senior community and helping you move before they move? Also, maybe he can help you set up your computer / phone so can do video chats after he moves.

Good luck
Laurie

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@normawatkins

Thank you so much, Linda. It's a great comfort to hear of your acceptance of this difficult situation. Perhaps we are living between two very different cultures as the number of "Senior" Care facilities everywhere indicates we are not alone in this. I was raised with those values, too, and not prepared for such a different family response. I wonder what's to come when our children are our age, but perhaps they will know what to expect. I wish you well and greatly respect your response to a painful experience.

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It is painful. Your kindness comes through in your responses. You are a wonderful person and would be a wonderful friend to have, I am sure. I have gone through major loss in the past year and reading a book Unattended Sorrow by Stephen Levine has helped me deal with the losses and subsequent grief. The book isn't for everyone, but I have re-read it, I think it was that helpful to get an honest assessment. I solely helped my parents and friends who I have lost through their final stages of illness. My siblings never helped, and they do not show or have any remorse for being selfish. It is an acceptable way to live, I guess. But I know I did the right thing for me as I would have felt guilt and remorse. Ask your son if they can wait to make this major move? What can it hurt?

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@lindasmith1222

It is painful. Your kindness comes through in your responses. You are a wonderful person and would be a wonderful friend to have, I am sure. I have gone through major loss in the past year and reading a book Unattended Sorrow by Stephen Levine has helped me deal with the losses and subsequent grief. The book isn't for everyone, but I have re-read it, I think it was that helpful to get an honest assessment. I solely helped my parents and friends who I have lost through their final stages of illness. My siblings never helped, and they do not show or have any remorse for being selfish. It is an acceptable way to live, I guess. But I know I did the right thing for me as I would have felt guilt and remorse. Ask your son if they can wait to make this major move? What can it hurt?

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I will definitely read Mr. Levines book as I read a lot and have recently ventured into Buddhist offerings but have only skimmed the surface, though certainly of interest. One said the three most dangerous things are anger, ignorance and attachments (defined as emotions that leave us hungry and wanting). But it 's difficult not to feel attachments to your children.
It's so helpful to have suggestions that help see the situation in broader terms – that it's not just my children but also the culture that influences many.
Again, thank you again for very helpful thoughts. I'm sorry for your loss and thankful you found help to see you through a difficult time.

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@roch

This will be a big change for you and are probably going through something similar to stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

Like others have mentioned, it is getting rarer that the next generation feels obligated to help the previous generations. I am single and not a lot of support from siblings as I deal with medical issues; so have accepted the fact that I cannot rely on them as I age. When time comes, I will find housing where I feel safe and help available if needed. Unfortunately as population ages, that type of housing is hard to find or expensive. Some areas have agencies that can help with this process.

You mention you can live independent so you're probably not ready for assisted living but an alternative may be a senior living situation. This would give you more social interactions and people around in case of an emergency. Some senior complexes are income based.

Have you thought of asking your son to assist you in locating housing in a senior community and helping you move before they move? Also, maybe he can help you set up your computer / phone so can do video chats after he moves.

Good luck
Laurie

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Thank. you, Laurie, for very good advice. I am currently in an Independent Senior facility which, just as my family's plans were broached, announced another exorbitant rent increase along with other added charges making it uncertain whether I can stay here. Getting settled somewhere else before my family moves is a great idea. That would provide a bit more stability.
I appreciate your taking the time to offer your welcome suggestions.

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This must be so tough for you! We had the opposite problem two years ago. My husband and I decided to relocate over thousand miles away from where we lived most of our lives. My daughter, who has her own family, was quite upset with me about the move and didn’t speak to me for awhile. We finally were able to reconnect. Time helped all of us to think about how to move forward. We have no plans to go back, but we are talking with our daughter and son-in-law about different contingencies and what they and we want to happen when my husband and I will need help.

My suggestion is that you and your son come up with a plan and put together resources, make a list of family/friends who can step in to help out. Decide together at what point and under what circumstances your son would need to return. Ultimately, try to create a workable plan.

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@alive

This must be so tough for you! We had the opposite problem two years ago. My husband and I decided to relocate over thousand miles away from where we lived most of our lives. My daughter, who has her own family, was quite upset with me about the move and didn’t speak to me for awhile. We finally were able to reconnect. Time helped all of us to think about how to move forward. We have no plans to go back, but we are talking with our daughter and son-in-law about different contingencies and what they and we want to happen when my husband and I will need help.

My suggestion is that you and your son come up with a plan and put together resources, make a list of family/friends who can step in to help out. Decide together at what point and under what circumstances your son would need to return. Ultimately, try to create a workable plan.

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That is a very good idea – to talk to them about a plan for me if or when I need support from a family member. Strangely enough, as kind, helpful responses come in, my problem grows more manageable! Pointing out more options for me and others in my situation can really help. Maybe I'm not as dependent as I feared, and have greater ability to deal with the change than I thought. Thank you.

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@normawatkins

That is a very good idea – to talk to them about a plan for me if or when I need support from a family member. Strangely enough, as kind, helpful responses come in, my problem grows more manageable! Pointing out more options for me and others in my situation can really help. Maybe I'm not as dependent as I feared, and have greater ability to deal with the change than I thought. Thank you.

Jump to this post

The good thing about discussing this and finding a solution together is that when you 'need that solution' you will still feel part of the team 😊

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