When Your Parents Die And You’re Thousands Of Kilometers Away

Your parent’s death is a horrifying thing to face, even more so when you’re thousands of kilometers away. I know it exactly – my father has passed away just three days ago. Sadness, guilt, fear – all of them are my daily companions now.

If you’re looking for advice on how to solve these feelings, then this article isn’t the right one for you. Maybe later, I will write such an article. For now, however, I myself have absolutely no idea on how I am supposed to deal with this situation myself. I am really just writing this article to get some of my feelings off my chest.

Sadness

Sadness – sounds like the most ordinary thing to feel upon your father’s death. Who wouldn’t feel sad upon the death of the person who has cared the most for you throughout their lifetime, the person who has only ever wished all the best for you and has done everything to support you? I certainly do feel sad. Especially in those moments when I am alone and I am left with my thoughts, sadness engrosses me like a python that is slowly choking its prey to death.

Guilt

Guilt is something that is probably more unique to expatriates than any of the other feelings upon their parents’ death. When my father passed away, I was just living my ordinary life in Iran, more than anything else thinking about the process of my proposed marriage. I could have been there. I SHOULD have been there. My father had fallen three weeks earlier and was operated twice. There was, however, not any sign that he was about to die. In fact, all the doctors said that he was on the way of recovery and that he would be able to leave the hospital a few days later. Then, surprisingly, he passed away over night, even shocking the doctors themselves.

Regardless of how it happened, my father didn’t see his son before his death. My mother was facing all the shock and all the sadness on her own. My grandfather – who is 90 years old – had to see his son die before him without having me by his side. Yes, I do feel guilty, and I will probably have this feeling for the rest of my life. Thoughts on changing my lifestyle – perhaps being in Germany 6 months of the year and overseas 6 months of the year, slowly begin to take hold in my head. At the end of the day, I feel strongly that the well-being of my family should have priority over my own selfish dreams and goals.

Fear

I am quite young to face the death of my father with my 25 years of age. Although I have been living overseas on my own for nearly 7 years now, I have always had some degree of support from my parents, particularly financially. There has never been a longer period of time for me where I have been able to be 100% financially independent, although I almost all the time did have one type of income or the other. Now, with my father’s death, I fear any unforeseen circumstances.

While I do not have a problem covering my usual expenses, whenever something surprising comes up, it would be extremely hard for me to cover up for it. I simply do not have the financial reserves to do so. As such, I feel that a strong sense of financial security has disappeared together with my father’s death, especially considering that I currently have no health insurance and very little savings, while having more-than-average expenses due to my life overseas.

But more than anything else, there is the fear for my mother and my grandfather. How will my mother deal with my father’s death, and her aging time without her husband, while her only son is far away? How will my 90-year old grandfather deal with his son’s death before him, and one of the most important people supporting him in his age? How can I be there for my family while at the same time having my obligations in another country?

Family is the most complicated aspect of an expatriate’s life

Being far away from my family has always been hard for me, especially seeing how much my parents missed having me close to them. But seeing one of my parents’ die without having been able to be there has completely put me in a state of shock that I haven’t felt before. Although living life overseas has a lot of challenges, the family issue seems to be the most complicated for me. I can deal with the uncertainty, financial issues, cultural problems, language barriers and all the other challenges that are posed by the life of an expat, but the family aspect of it is by far the greatest cause of stress and discomfort.

I can not really give any advice on how to resolve this dilemma. After all, I myself haven’t been able to do so. I am merely toying around with different solutions on how to be able to spend more time in Germany while at the same time maintaining the center of my life overseas. I am sure there are solutions for this problem, but we must remain open and creative in order to find them.

Tim

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