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Originally published on 2019/11/06

It’s never easy to be so far away when you hear news that a relative has passed away. Last Thursday (October 31), my sister messaged me on Facebook that our grandmother, on our mom’s side, had passed away.

She was already bedridden before I came to Japan, so it wasn’t completely a shock, but I was still very sad. It was a school day, and I didn’t know what to do really. I had classes, and the show must go on as they say.

But there was a dark cloud overhead, and I couldn’t shake the feeling of overwhelming sadness. I wanted to go home and be with the my family. I wanted to mourn with them and dig up memories of my grandmother.

But I can’t — mostly because of financial and logistical reasons. It was a strange and unsettling feeling to be mourning alone. That’s essentially why it’s difficult to be so far away when someone close to you dies.

It’s easier to mourn when there are others around who are also grieving. I hadn’t seen my grandmother for a few months since I came to Japan, so there’s a hazy tinge to my memories of her.

Because I’m far from home, the loss can feel subtle…until I remember that, when I go home to the Philippines to visit, I won’t find her there anymore.

I won’t be able to visit her or talk to her, because she’s gone.

And that thought feels like being hit by a freight train. Tears flow, and an overwhelming sadness descends on me.

It doesn’t help that Christmas is just a few days away, and I’m apart from my family.

Usually, this is the time people start to regret their decision to move away from family and friends. I haven’t felt that yet, mostly because this had been a long-time dream, and I was aware of the risks and consequences.

But it doesn’t make the blow — the loss — any less painful.

Talking to family members and friends and keeping my mind off it helps, but the sadness is still there and will continue to be there for quite some time.

Something I learned from riding a bike, though, is to, well, ride it out. It will get easier as you go.

Jam Guibone

Hello! I am Jam. Welcome to my blog! I initially started this to document my adventures while working in Japan as an ALT under the JET Programme. I hope all the information here will be useful to you, whether or not you're also a JET, ALT, or just someone traveling abroad.

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