J Simens.com

Sadness Can Be A Blessing for Expats


Sadness can be a  blessing

  • Being sad washing the champagne glasses after New Years Eve – is not sad.
  • Being sad taking down the Christmas tree – is not sad.
  • Being sad unstringing the Christmas lights – is not sad.
  • Taking your grown child to the airport to leave after the holidays – is sad.

Expats are used to transitions. We are pros at saying goodbye. We have had more experience doing this than Carlos Slim Helu has money.  But unlike Mr. Helu we do not dream of increasing our ‘output’ when it comes to saying these goodbyes.

I am sure all expats can think of highlights of their recent past vacation. You can look at facebook and see all the amazing tales we all tell.  What we forget to showcase is our close connection time with have had with our adult children.

It is more impressive to show places we have been than to show your laughs at breakfast time.  It is more impressive to show the sites than to show your emotions. It is more important to show the highlights than to show the sadness.

I am glad I still have a few days to collect my thoughts before I start back to work. I want to stamp deep into my memory our time together.  I want to spend quality alone time with my other child and get back to smiling before I start work again.  I have a special connection to my child and a special connection to coffee, it is only fitting that I spend these last few seconds deep in thought about my daughter.


of course, I am now also thinking about my own mom.   I have been an expat for over 30 years, coming and going into her life. I wonder if she has coffee after I leave, thinking about the moments we laughed together and regroups before she continues on with her life – without a child (for a while).

Expats know that feeling sad at times is part of the game.

A happy expat doesn’t mean a giddy-at-all-times expat. A happy expat means also an expat who knows that being sad at times is part of the expatriate experience. Being sad about leaving friends behind; being sad about leaving your family far away; being sad about quitting a job or changing a career – this list can go on and on.

The difference between a happy expat and an expat who isn’t happy is that for the former the sadness is something that’s natural and something that doesn’t take over his/her life and makes a victim out of him/her.


1. Get interested in your new culture. Be excited to explore your new home.
2. Celebrate all the time you have “right now” to do things.
3. Share your experience with others, helping those like you find the best facets of their expatriate journeys helps keep your happy.

Sadness is a blessing – it means you had a connection!

Saying Goodbye


  • Related blog – How do you celebrate memorial day abroad?
  • Mexico City – Carlos Slim Helu has the most wealth in the world (Carlos Slim Helu).
  • http://globalcoachcenter.com/7-habits-of-a-happy-expat
  • photo – http:// www.flickr.com/photos/tochis/2618286702/
  • Lori
    January 3, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    I think the hardest part of raising a TCK daughter is that I know that someday (not in the too distant future), I’ll be having to say goodbye to her and have her be thousands of miles away from me.

  • Rekha
    January 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Every word rings true, Julia! Sharing it forward.

  • January 5, 2012 at 2:10 am

    I suppose it´s true that sadness is a blessing but it can be jolly painful too. Please parents teach your kids how to handle the sadness of saying `goodbyes`. My parents always said we are better at saying `hello` than `goodbye`. Our extended family was encouraged to welcome us at the airport and not to wave us off. I´m a Dutch(ATCK), who grew up in Africa. I´ve said goodbye to loved ones so many times but the most difficult time was when I left my family in Africa and went(as first born, alone) to the Netherlands to study. It was terrible…..