'Guilty and fearful of leaving parents behind, as I prepare to settle abroad'

"I know there are several modes of communication in today’s age and time, but it still doesn’t make up for being present," says a worried daughter

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Dear Haya,

How do you deal with your parents getting old?

I'm soon moving to a different country and the thought of something happening to my parents, while I'm away, really tears me up. I know there are several modes of communication in today’s age and time, but it still doesn’t make up for being present.

I feel guilty that my parents spent their entire life building a life for me, and now when it’s my turn to give them the same attention they gave me, I am leaving them here.

How do I deal with this guilt and fear?

— A worried daughter

Guilty and fearful of leaving parents behind, as I prepare to settle abroad

Dear worried daughter,

Dealing with your parents aging, especially when you are moving to a different country, can be an emotionally complex experience that brings about undeniable worry amongst other complex emotions. It is natural to feel guilt and fear about their well-being when you are far away.

Lets take a look to see how we can aid you in managing your experience.

First of all your worry is valid. It is important for you to acknowledge and validate your feelings.

It is normal to feel guilty, anxious, or sad about leaving your parents. These emotions are a testament to your love and care for them.

While I understand there are many ways to keep in touch, I understand how you feel that it doesn’t make up for being physically present.

Let’s take a look at some things we can do.

I would encourage you to assess what your priorities are in life at the moment. I hear you telling me that you want to move to a different country to build a better life and at the same time you want to be around for your parents. Is one priority more than the other? Are they both equally important? What need is moving abroad fulfilling for you? What need is being around parents fulfilling for you? It could be that both are equally important to you. Reflect on how this move aligns with your personal growth and life goals. Recognising the importance of your journey can help balance your emotions.

I would encourage you to have an open discussion with your parents. Share your reasons for moving and express to them how you’re feeling about moving and them not coming with you. Ask them for their advice and input, which can make them feel more included in your transition.

Next, find ways where you can achieve both needs. For example, plan visits. Make more of a consistent effort to be in regular touch with your parents. Once you move and are settled, find ways where they can come visit often. This can give you and your parents something to look forward to.

In your absence, ensure that your parents have a reliable support network of friends, family, or community members who can assist them while you are away.

I would encourage you to focus on quality. Emphasise the quality of the time you spend with your parents rather than the quantity. Make your interactions meaningful and enriching.

Look into long-term care planning. Discuss and plan for your parents' future needs. This might include exploring healthcare options, legal matters, and potential living arrangements should their needs change. Have an emergency plan for them. Including key contacts, financial arrangements, and travel logistics, so you can act quickly if needed.

See how you can carry your parents’ legacy and values with you, even from a distance, this could be a source of comfort and connection for you.

Remember, it is possible to care deeply for your parents while also pursuing your own path. Balancing your move with the care and concern for your aging parents require a thoughtful and multi-faceted approach.

By maintaining strong communication, creating a robust support network, planning for regular visits, involving your parents in your life, and seeking emotional support, you can manage your guilt and fear.

This approach allows you to honor your parents' efforts while also pursuing your own path, creating a meaningful and connected relationship despite the physical distance. Your success and happiness can be a source of pride and joy for your parents. By pursuing your dreams, you are also honouring their efforts and sacrifices.

Guilty and fearful of leaving parents behind, as I prepare to settle abroad

Haya Malik is a psychotherapist, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner, corporate well-being strategist and trainer with expertise in creating organisational cultures focused on well-being and raising awareness around mental health.

Send her your questions to [email protected]

Note: The advice and opinions above are those of the author and specific to the query. We strongly recommend our readers consult relevant experts or professionals for personalised advice and solutions. The author and Geo.tv do not assume any responsibility for the consequences of actions taken based on the information provided herein. All published pieces are subject to editing to enhance grammar and clarity.