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Old 03.08.2011, 18:11
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The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

I had a bit of a wakeup call two weeks ago. Forget trying to learn French, make friends or find a place to live with rent less than 33% of your salary as being the hardest things about living in Switzerland; I've discovered it's the family I left behind. My father-in-law passed away two weeks ago - he was ill for awhile, but he deteriorated so quickly in the end that we weren't even able to get flights home between the calls of 'come home now' and 'he's gone'.

He gave us his blessing to go before we left six months ago, so I feel grateful for that. But really I feel so guilty that I wasn't able to say goodbye to him, and worse, that it was my job that took us to Switzerland and my husband away from his dad.

How do you cope with that? Two weeks on - and still back here in Australia - I'm coming to terms with it, but for all my family members who are getting on a bit, I'm worried that when I say goodbye at the airport this time around it could be goodbye for good. It's *almost* enough to want to stay in Australia; at the very least, it's leaving me with this empty feeling in my stomach. I love living in Switzerland, but things like this make it so hard sometimes...
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Old 03.08.2011, 18:16
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

So sorry for your loss. Do not be so hard on yourself, there is never a good time for people to leave us, and never a good place to be. Think only of the happy memories and do not dwell on what-if's.

Chin up
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Old 03.08.2011, 18:17
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

Chin up !!!!


Bad things happen to good people.

As you said, be comforted by the fact that he gave you his blessing before you left........ you damned well he would never want to "hold" you back in Australia when you had such a big adventure ahead of you.

I say, keep that in mind, and make sure that every single day you make the most of living "in die Schweiz".



I'm sorry for your loss, but most of us live here with the same fear.


I wish you my most sincere condolences to you and your family
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Old 03.08.2011, 18:27
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

I have the same.
when I lived in the USA I broke my moms heart every time when she waved me out at the airport (she would be crying a lot) but I had to go and live my own life the way I want it(still felt horrible. Now that we are considering a permanent move there , this feeling is coming back, specially when we will have kids....but on the other hand I would see them more a year than living here in CH. plus it can be made a holiday everytime....
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Old 03.08.2011, 18:36
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

Both my mum and her husband are expats living in Switzerland and this has happened to them many times. It's heart-breaking and every time there is a hint of "maybe I should go back home" in the air but when you've lived somewhere over 30 years, it is home, just not where your family is. So they go "home" regularly and make the most of the time they have together. When I look at how much time people here spend with family that is close, it probably doesn't work out to be that much more and they too get that dreaded phone call - in a way it's almost worse if you know the person in question lives just a short drive away.

I'm sorry for your loss and I'm sure he really meant for you to spread your wings in the world when he gave you his blessing - the best you can do is make the most of the opportunities you are given.
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Old 03.08.2011, 18:41
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

I've lived through that too, and feel sad for you.
My parents lived in Cairns when I was in Brussels, and it was so far away that I didn't make it back in time when they died.
I felt guilty for years but, as an old person myself now, I would hate like hell to have any one of the young ones putting my welfare ahead of that of their partner and children.
You have a life to live and a job to do and, if that life and job are here in Switzerland, then that's the way it has to be.
It's so often the problem with the nuclear family in this day and age, and you must just get on with your life and know that your relatives in Australia would undoubtedly want it that way.
I do so hope you'll feel happier soon.
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Old 03.08.2011, 18:51
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

Awww... my heart goes out to you, as I can definitely relate.

I, too, often have this sense of guilt as though I have abandoned my family by moving here. In fact, I often have to push those thoughts out of my head for fear that I might sink into a heavy depression about it. My parents are both approaching their 70s, and I worry about what I can and should do once their health starts to fail... not to mention the thought of them rarely ever getting to see their grandchild that's on the way.

But hopefully your family is like mine in that they are happy for you that you are fortunate enough to be living in such a great country now... one with such little crime and with such a stable economy, etc. I guess I don't really know much about the current situation in Australia, but for myself, I actually fear what my life might be like right now if I had never met my Swiss husband and were still living in the US, with the lack of jobs there, people losing their homes, etc.

And I'm sure your family knows how much you love and miss them.
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Old 03.08.2011, 19:35
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

You have my sympathy. I'm going through a similar thing. Yesterday I missed a family funeral because it just wasn't possible this time of year to get a flight home with a few days notice. I feel awful.

Since leaving home for University I have never lived close by and always thought my mum was ok with it. Then last month I realised she has been putting on a brave face for the last 12 years when she hugged me good bye at Lausanne train station and cried and cried and cried. The last time I saw mum cry was 25 years ago when the dog died.
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Old 03.08.2011, 19:36
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

I can also relate with you, as recently my favorit grandpa and only one left, in the Netherlands passed away......I had just booked a ticket to go and see him because I know he was not doing well and 2 days before going back to the Netherlands I got that sad phonecall. I miss him a lot.

But just like the others also say, we have our life to live and we shouldnt feel guilty about that. Our loved ones want what is best for us. And being away from them also makes us realise how much we love our family and we should defenitely tell them as often as we can. I certainly need to learn that still!

And indeed we should make the most out of Switzerland, if we are here now, away from our loved ones we should make it count! I wish you all the best.
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Old 03.08.2011, 19:44
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

EmpressJo, so sorry for your loss. You are definitely not alone. I agree that its the hardest thing being so far away from family especially in such difficult times. I just lost my grandmother recently in May. The lady who've brought me up, whom I spent the majority of my childhood with. She was bed ridden for years due to a stroke and never was able to speak properly again. I am so ashamed to say that the last time I saw her was the last time I went back home: 2 years ago. For many reasons, we couldnt make the trip back but thinking back, majority of them are just lame excuses and my word, it wouldnt be pretty if I started apportioning blame.

I still get angry and upset when I think about her. For not being there to say goodbye. Its ok to vent about it. But never ever blame yourself for making the decision to come here because this isnt the reason as to why our loved ones depart. At the risk of sounding callous, its the circle of life. My mum once said to me when I was discussing my concerns with her about moving half the world away and I try to remember it when I am in one of those moods, missing home and thinking about nan: she said not to hold back conquering the world because of them (parents). They only want the best for us. For us to be happy. Even if it means moving thousands of miles away.

Hope this makes a little sense.

Here are some threads started some time back by fellow EFers which will hopefully help a little (it did for me) because you are not alone:

Dealing with death of a family member whilst living abroad.

What will I do when the parents get even older?
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Old 03.08.2011, 19:45
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

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I had a bit of a wakeup call two weeks ago. Forget trying to learn French, make friends or find a place to live with rent less than 33% of your salary as being the hardest things about living in Switzerland; I've discovered it's the family I left behind. My father-in-law passed away two weeks ago - he was ill for awhile, but he deteriorated so quickly in the end that we weren't even able to get flights home between the calls of 'come home now' and 'he's gone'.

He gave us his blessing to go before we left six months ago, so I feel grateful for that. But really I feel so guilty that I wasn't able to say goodbye to him, and worse, that it was my job that took us to Switzerland and my husband away from his dad.

How do you cope with that? Two weeks on - and still back here in Australia - I'm coming to terms with it, but for all my family members who are getting on a bit, I'm worried that when I say goodbye at the airport this time around it could be goodbye for good. It's *almost* enough to want to stay in Australia; at the very least, it's leaving me with this empty feeling in my stomach. I love living in Switzerland, but things like this make it so hard sometimes...

Sorry for ur loss.

Even i had the same situation.I had to come to swiss after my marriage.And after 6 months my mom passed away .We had some plans to see her as she was in depression(she was feeling i had left her alone) but jst two days before leaving i got a call from my brother sayin tht my mom passed away. it was the most horrible moment in my life which i cant forget and i dont want anyone else to face the same.

The thing was she was not too old and i was jst married.Still am not able to come out of this shock.

so dont worry abt ur loss.Wht ever is happen its for some gud. Rub out all ur worries face the world as new u r .
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Old 03.08.2011, 19:49
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

Very sorry to hear and sorry for your loss.

Although I'm not very close at all with my family and am pretty lame with goodbyes.....it has come to my attention after each visit during the goodbye, there's logically a good possibility that it might be the last time I ever see them alive. Very tough indeed. Always try to justify it in my head, that's its the outcome that comes with the territory. Never makes it any easier to think about.

Best wishes from an internet random.
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Old 03.08.2011, 20:00
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

We never know when we will see anyone again....never mind the distances.

When we say goodbye it could be the last time .... wherever/whenever.

Each day brings us all a little bit closer to the the last day.......
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Old 03.08.2011, 20:10
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

It seems, everybody feels the same way some time...

My mother went back to Australia after 30 years in Switzerland and gladly had 3 years with her Dad before he passed away. Now her Mother is slowly leaving and I am glad, my Mum is with her. I will try to make it to Australia for christmas and hope I will see my Nanna before she decides to go.

I asked my Mum where she wants to spend the rest of her life because her heart also always seemed to be in Switzerland although beeing australian.
She said, she'd come home as soon as her mother has died...
It's good to know, I will have her with me again for better or worse...

It's just crap to be an expat when it comes to those subjects...
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Old 03.08.2011, 20:56
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

so sorry to hear of your loss. I fear this too.

A Chinese friend once shared a wonderful old Chinese saying with me, one that her Mom told her as my friend moved away from home:

"I don't want to be the stone that holds you down. I want to be the stone that helps you reach higher."

As hard as it is, your family loves you and wants to help you reach higher. Take solace in knowing that. I hope it makes you feel a bit better.
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Old 03.08.2011, 21:56
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

Sorry for your loss Jo.
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Old 03.08.2011, 22:21
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

losing someone is always awful. But he was happy for you to go. And probably still is. Time will make the pain go away but won't take away the happy memories.
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Old 04.08.2011, 08:45
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

I really feel for you I do. Myself and my boyfriend are dealing with similar things at the moment. I don't want to go into too much detail out of respect for him as it is mostly on his side of the family.

Recent events have made us both want to move back home so desperately but it just isn't feasible yet. I haven't slept properly for weeks due to fear of more bad things happening to family and friends and some of the nightmares have left me in tears.

The one thing you must hold on to as others have said, is that your family wants what's best for you and wouldn't want you staying close to them out of a sense of responsibility. When my little one grows up I will actively encourage her to see as much of the world as possible and make sure I don't "clip her wings" by making her feel she needs to stay near me (as much as I would dearly love her to until the end of time ).

My thoughts are with you. *Hugs*
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Old 04.08.2011, 09:09
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

Sorry to hear what you're going through. Like everyone else said already, don't blame yourself for being far away. As much as one would like to be there when your family needs you, in times like this it really wouldn't have made any difference. What really stays with you and your family forever is the good times you spent together, and not the last few lost minutes you didn't get to say goodbye.

Chin up, the dark clouds will pass and you will both feel a bit better soon.
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Old 04.08.2011, 17:01
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Re: The hardest thing about living in Switzerland

Knowing just how you feel there too My sincere condolences.

We just got back from 2 weeks in the UK where I kissed goodbye to my very dear Nan (age 90) and my Grandad (92) with the thought very much in my head "what if I never see them again?" They are both very healthy right now, but at that kind of age things can happen very suddenly and you just never know.

Also my mother in law, who is only 67, was looking so frail. She struggles with depression and eating problems and she worries about the whole world. I couldn't help but wish we could be there to help her out a bit. I don't doubt that she worries about us being far away too.

In the end though I have to remind myself that even if we were living in the same country the chances are we would not get jobs living 5 minutes from them so we probably wouldn't "be there" anyway.

I think this is every ex-pats saddest moment, thinking of the family and friends we left behind, the ones we love dearly who we don't see all the time and as they get old or sick, not being there is so hard. But it's a choice we made. We made it for us, for our children and for our future and whilst I love all my family dearly, I do know we made a good decision. I don't know if it's forever - I imagine as my own parents get older things may change - for now we keep in touch as much as possible and to be honest I'm a lot more open about really "showing the love" when I do see them as it doesn't happen all that often.

I'm sure your father in law knew that you cared about him. People who are loved are loved whether you are there to say it out loud or not. He may not have even been aware if you had made it "in time". It's hard to come back when you've had something like that happen though. I always think as an expat we have to stop and re-evaluate every now and then: "am I still happy here?" and "is expat life still the right life for me/us?" If you want to "go home" because of family then think about it, and if it's what you want, then do it - there's no shame at all in that.
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