After learning her son plans a permanent move overseas, a grandparent feels a sense of loneliness and loss.
Hi Dr. Levine,
My son and his wife took overseas jobs nine years ago for what I thought was an adventure they wanted to live out in their late twenties before family, etc. After eight years, they took jobs back in our home state. In less than a year they accepted jobs again in Europe.
My son just set me straight in a recent phone call to make sure that I accept the fact that they have chosen this as a permanent career move. During these past nine years, they have had their two children who are now 5 and 8. It feels SO HEAVY. I am really SO disappointed.
I have had to deal with clinical depression for most of the past 20 years. I’ve been doing well. However, for the past couple of years, life in general is much richer and much less complicated when I’m not on medication. But this new reality has created a sense loss that I just can’t shake it off.
I found your blog today in a search about loneliness as a grandparent. I can hardly believe that this describes me. I’m only 65, married, and retired from a successful career in teaching and sales. My retirement was over five years ago now so I should be adjusted to that but I do admit I miss the stimulation of my career. I have three sons, two of whom are stateside with their families, but nonetheless, we don’t see them but every few months.
When people retire, their social worlds often constrict as they lose day-to-day contact with workplace colleagues. If you were in sales and teaching, your work life must have been filled with people.
Some retirees find pleasure in individual hobbies and pursuits. Others crave interaction and make efforts to stay actively involved with co-workers, friends and/or family.
Coming to terms with an adult child (and family) who decides to relocate overseas can be an unexpected jolt—even if you understand the basis for his decision intellectually and realize that your offspring need to live their own lives.
Every life transition, including this one precipitated by your son’s permanent move, requires a mental adjustment. Do you have the energy to reach out and engage with other people aside from your immediate family to distract yourself and fill empty hours? Do you have any interests that you want to pursue?
Disappointment is understandable but if you feel a profound sense of loss that doesn’t abate with time—especially given your long history of clinical depression—you may want to check in with a mental health professional to see if your depression is making the loss that much harder to adapt to.
Hope this helps.
Category: Coping with loneliness