How to Cope with Living Far Away from Family
Living Far Away from Family Can Be Really Hard Sometimes
I have to admit that, living far away from family can be really difficult sometimes. When I first moved away from my parents and brothers, it was to go to college. Little did I know that I would end up staying in the area, and that, twelve years later, I would still be here. I ended up marrying a man from the area, and we now have two sons together and live close to my in-laws and my brother-in-law. Our church that we love is here as well. While I believe it is definitely part of God's plan that we're still here, that doesn't mean that I don't have days where I feel really sad about it or even cry because I miss them. I carry a lot of guilt about being far away, and have to pray about it often, surrendering those feelings to the Lord and asking Him to help me deal with them. So, in an effort to help anyone else who also finds themselves living far away from family members, below I will outline a few tips and tricks to help you cope.
Do Take the Time to Call or Write and Catch Up
One of the ways I deal with living far away from my family members is to make sure I take the time out to call or write them emails. The person I probably talk to the most is my mom. I call her every couple of days to catch up and say "Hi". Even if it is just a 10 minute conversation, it is really nice to connect and let the other person know you are thinking of them, and also let them know what's new on your end. If you don't have the time during your day to make a phone call, even a quick email or text lets the person know they are thought of and cared about.
Make Frequent Visits and Make the Most of Your Time Together
I live about 8 hours away from my parents and brothers. My husband and two sons and I like to make visits to see them as often as we can. Hopefully, our visits will become more frequent soon. We are only able to see them every few months, which can sometimes be really hard. Certain things get in the way...mostly finances and taking time off from work. It costs money for gas and food on the way up, even though I do try to stock the car with lots of snacks so that we don't stop and get fast food too much on the way up. Still, the cost of gas for a long drive can really add up! But if you can, make frequent visits to your family members, so that the distance is more bearable. While you're visiting, make the most of your time together by doing memorable things and spending quality time catching up. For example, last time we were in town, my husband and I went to the zoo along with my mom and my youngest brother, and my two boys. It was a fun time together and we took lots of pictures to remember the occasion. Even doing something as simple as playing a board game or watching a movie together can create lasting memories as well! Try not to count down the days until your visit will be over, and feel bummed in advance. Just be thankful for the time spent together, and enjoy it to the fullest!
Plan Your Next Visit
When the visit is over, it can be a very difficult thing. Both parties go back to their regular lives, and it's tough to deal with for a while. But when you do go back home, be sure to plan your next visit, so that you'll have something to look forward to. For example, my parents and one of my brothers are coming down to visit us this time, in a couple of months. Our good family friend is getting married in August, and my parents and youngest brother are going to take time off work and come down to her wedding. While they're here, they are going to be visiting both my grandparents on my dad's side, and our family as well. Since we haven't seen them in a few months, it is going to be really wonderful to get together! It's really hard for me on the holidays sometimes, to know my family is not closeby. This Saturday is Father's Day, and I feel sad because I would love to be able to see my dad on that day. At the same time, when I shift my focus and remember that I'll be seeing him in a couple of months, I feel so much happier and more thankful. I sent him a Father's Day card and let him know how much I'm looking forward to seeing him in August. Focusing on the positive and looking forward to the good times together is what gets me through when I am feeling down about the geographical distance between us.
Don't Let Guilt Keep You From Saying "I Love You" or "I Miss You"
Sometimes, I over-analyze. I would feel bad to say "I Love You" or "I Miss You" because, I thought the other person was probably thinking "If you love me and miss me, why don't you live closeby?" But the truth is, I do love both my parents and both my brothers a great deal. I love and care about them very, very much. So I'm not going to hold myself back from saying that. Just because I live far away, does't mean I don't care. It just means that life and God's plans took me in a different direction. I do pray that someday, we will live in closer proximity to each other. It would be really nice to be able to see each other more often. Maybe someday, my parents will move or we will move and be closer to them, which brings me to my next point...
Pray Without Ceasing
The Bible says we are to pray without ceasing. Whenever this situation comes to my mind, I pray about it and tell the Lord that I want to be open to whatever He has for me and my family. If that means moving, then so be it. For now, we are content with the apartment the Lord provided for us, and with living in the area where we are, closeby to our church and to one side of the family and some good friends. But you never know; someday that could all change. Or maybe my parents will move closer to us, which would be awesome! For now, I continually pray for God's plan to be done and for a willing Spirit to do whatever He shows us to do. So, if you are having a difficult time living far away from family, but don't know what to do, continue to pray about the situation and see what the Lord does!