This devotional is quite different from what I usually write. However, I felt that someone needed to read this. Warning: I am not a certified counselor. The following are things that I’ve learned through my many, many moves.
God moves people. Let’s say it’s you. Whether it’s across the city, across the country, or to a different country, often the “left-behinds” feel betrayed or abandoned. After all, you chose your desires over theirs. They have no choice but to deal with separation. It’s different for you because, well, you’re leaving. During our travels, my wife and I left all four parents, numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, friends, and two of our (grown) kids. However, we were almost always the ones leaving.
Some Powerful Emotions May Arise
Some powerful emotions usually arise from a pending separation, and those feelings may differ from the emotions the “left-behinds” feel after you’ve moved. The stages of emotions closely track the seven stages of grief. The “left-behinds” start with denial; they often skip the “pain and guilt,” but they barrel right into anger and bargaining. I once was bargained out of a move, and that did not turn out well.
After anger, some “left-behinds” feel depression, especially a close friend or parent. Sadly, some loved ones get stuck on either anger or depression. They never make the upward turn, reimagining their life with you not in it on a daily basis. While some “left-behinds” do reach acceptance, it may take years.
The best way to communicate a pending separation is, if possible, through a one-on-one conversation. Let’s face it; when you tell your best friend in the world that you’re going to leave, they won’t take it gracefully.
In all the pains of life, there is a human need to speak, to get out all of the words boiling inside, and to find some hope to grab hold of. My wife and I have told many people to, “Just puke out your feelings, and we’ll clean the mess up later.” Let the “left-behinds” speak. Don’t interject, don’t quiet their feelings (as long as they haven’t gone postal); just let them grieve.
Kids Need Extra Care
Often, if you’re talking to a child, the hurting child thinks they can’t say what they are feeling for fear of hurting you. Talk with them if you have permission from the child’s parent(s). Help them not to shut down. They need to express their feelings, and you need to be prepared to hear them.
If you or loved ones are facing separation, then be bold. Pray for God’s wisdom and then broach the subject; sooner is better than later, provided it’s a done deal. God is in the business of healing. He can use you to bring healing to a hurting heart.
Proverbs 12:18 (ESV), “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.“