As the end of the school year approaches, the season of changes, goodbyes and transition begins. While many of our students and teachers are moving on to new horizons and grade-levels are making significant moves from one division to the other, and our seniors move on to university, the remaining “returning” ones, also feel the impact of transition with imminent departures of close friends.
Changes and moves can be exciting. They provide new beginnings, new challenges and new opportunities. Along with all the adventure comes the reality and difficulty of saying goodbye to the people who we consider part of our home.
How does one manage the obstacles of transition? It is best to make plans – to leave well in order to start well.
In their seminal work on Third Culture Kids and studying families in transition, David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken recommend building one’s RAFT – an acronym that they developed to help people end well in order to start well.
R – Reconciliation. Allowing oneself to forgive and be forgiven is crucial before a departure. When we or others leave, the problem does not go away as well. Therefore it is best to resolve a conflict in person rather than with the obstacle of distance.
A – Affirmation. Let people know how much you appreciate them and what they did for you, your kids or your family. Tell friends how meaningful your friendships are.
F – Farewell. This is the not so fun part – saying goodbye. Different people need different goodbyes. Do what is best and most comfortable for you. Schedule a time for farewells for people, pets, possessions and special places.
T – Think destination. Think about where you are going to move. What might be some positives and some challenges about the place? Reminder: It’s okay to feel excited about the new destination as you say good-bye to all the old things. It’s normal.
No matter what challenge or setback we encounter in life, it is important to always consider what is within our control and what we essentially need to accept as it is out of our control. Self care is crucial during stressful times: aim to seek balance, exercise regularly, focus on the positive, and most importantly, be kind to yourself and others.
While the life of global citizens can be challenging due to distances and continual flux of people coming into and out of our lives, the rewards far outweigh the negatives. Remember:
“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” – Miriam Adeney