When we make our decisions to leave home and start a new life in a new country, our eyes are typically set on the advantages. There is something magical about the freshness of a new start: new life, new opportunities, new friends, especially when we are invited to it based on our own merit and achievement.
Sure, we accept that we won't be with our family for every milestone and event, and yes we have other worries that haunt us, but for the most part, we are able to brush them under some random carpet and moved on. It worked until COVID hit.
It is not so much the virus itself, but rather the exposure of all our fears at the same time both back home and where we live. An exposure that leaves us nowhere to hide.
Fears about the health and safety of our families back home and our family living with us coupled with fears about countries blocking travel and keeping us from seeing our loved ones, not to mention the mother of all fears: our own health and life.
We are the bridge that connects our family back home to our growing family here. Remove us from the equation and the bridge disconnects leaving those we care most about in this world isolated, dependent, and alone. Ok, maybe our parents and family back home will be fine, but what about our children here? I can hardly think of anything more terrifying.
Luckily, there are many ways to keep that bridge connected, even if we are removed from the equation. With some planning and preparation, this bridge can be fortified enough to allow one side to cross to the other and eliminate the need for a bridge altogether.
Here are 5 things that we can do to fortify our family bridges:
1. A plan: Be prepared to move forward no matter what COVID - or anything else - throws at us. Explore every possible outcome, take a deep breath, plan for every possible outcome.
2. Legal documentation: Have a will, updated passports, and family files at the ready.
3. Financials in order: In the middle of all this emotional turmoil, Let's not forget to plan financially for the different situations.
4. Build and Connect: Strengthen your family as much as possible, even if it has been years since you last connected.
5. Emotional & mental health: This is an emotionally intense time for everyone. Know that you are not the only one going through this experience, and know that you are not going at it alone. There are communities of multicultural families from all around the world, located all over the world ready to offer help and support. Here is mine to help you get started. You are not alone. Please reach out!