An American Abroad: Dealing with Grief

One day I am at my homestay working on a bit of homework before heading off to Portugal the next day when I get a text from my dad.

“Facetime me if you can.”

 

Via: Erica Boucher

My heart starts to race.  It's only like 8:00 am there.  My dad should be at work. He would never say it like this if everything was okay.  Why does my dad need to talk to me now? Who is dead?

Who is dead?

The WiFi isn’t working.  This happens a lot here, but today I need it to work.  

I finally get my phone to work, and he answers.

“I’m so sorry, but ____ is dead.”

And that was it.  Suddenly I was in a foreign country all alone, crying.

This was the thing I was most concerned about happening while I was abroad.  There I was in a foreign country, no family, only new friends, and no support system.  Losing someone while you are in college is hard enough, as I discovered last year, but at least then I was able to leave school for a few days to go to the funeral and handle some of my grief with my family.  Now, I was stuck in a foreign country, and I couldn’t exactly pop back to America for a day to go to a funeral and get some closure. No, I had to stay abroad, I could barely contact anyone as the Wifi wasn’t the best and the time difference was so long.  I had to go on a trip to Portugal and pretend that everything was okay because I had no other options.

Dealing with grief while abroad is really hard, and there is no right way to do it.  Some people may go home for a bit, but I wasn’t in a situation where I could do that.  Instead, I focused on continuing my studies and trying to enjoy myself, because that is what my family would want me to do.  It was hard, but there was nothing I could do to change it.