Ageing parents – the underestimated worry of our life abroad


I have always had a close relationship with my parents. Being the only child, I luckily felt naturally connected with them and comfortable to be around. Our relationship started to be a little different when I married and got children, also after my mom became sick and we moved to Finland. Then I realized that our parents are getting old and we are nowhere close to help them, or even spend as much time as possible with them. And we are still the lucky ones, who could travel. Many other immigrants might not see their family ever, or just once and then in many many years.

The common reaction, when our family in Slovakia sees our children after several months is: “Oh, you are such a big boy! And you are such a tall girl! How is this possible, that you grow so fast?” And in my heart, there is this unspoken sentence full of love and worries: “Oh… and you are getting older and somehow more fragile.” And then, even if I don’t want to be overwhelmed by all those emotions, I start my inner calculations… How many years do we still have with you? Is it 20, 25? If we come twice a year, we only have 50 meetings together. 50 is a very concrete and imaginable number. And it is absolutely not enough… 

Somehow we have this perspective that our parents are going to be in a good condition and not needy for practical physical help for many following years. But still, I can feel it very persistently, that the need for closeness and connection, the need for just a simple human interest is there, present in every phone call and during every visit. And I am so sorry that we can’t provide it. Because if you realise it, or not, the time is passing.

And one day you will receive the phone call: “I am very sorry to let you know, but your mom has just passed away. My sincere condolences.” And you just stand there speechless and full of sadness. Yes, of course, rationally you know it will once come, but nobody is ever prepared for such news. In that minute, you lost your 50 meetings together and the joy from the time spent with each other. In the best scenario, you can catch the plane and come for the funeral. In the worst, you can’t even make it for the faraway.  

Within life in a foreign country, you are not getting only the sugar and sweets. It cost you a lot. Maybe being younger and not so attached to my family, I would see it differently. 

But from my current perspective, I would say that by hoping for a more prospective future for our children, we are impoverishing the present of our parents. 

I know that I should not overthink it and it is not like I am constantly overwhelmed with ageing. It is maybe just approaching Mothers’ Day… 

Please, call your mothers and pay them your attention. I can’t do it anymore. Mine passed away this February, so I can only remember. 


  1. Hello again Lubica!

    Thank you very much for this wonderful and mindful blog post. I am very sorry to hear about your loss.

    I have many times had the same thoughts about both my parents, even though I have lived most of my life with my mother. My mother lives in Germany and my father in South Africa, which makes visiting in the latter case even more difficult. Even though you can fly rather easily to Germany, I have not seen my mother as often as I would have liked to, especially during the last 1 1/2 years with Corona ongoing. And there is of course always a financial aspect to flying several times per year there.

    I am also an only child, so it often troubles me what I should do in the future to be there for her when she needs me. At this point, I am not yet planning on moving back and my spouse, who is Finnish, also would for the time being want to still live here. Luckily she has other family members around to support her as long as I cannot be there. But I really would want to spend more time with her in the future, if possible. Time fortunately and unfortunately does not stand still and we can only try to do our best.

    Take care!

    – Marie-Claire

    1. Dear Marie-Claire, thank you for your comment and for sharing your part of the story. Indeed, as we are getting more adultish, we really have to cope with the more complicated inner conflicts. And even make choices that might feel impossible. Who to choose – parent or a spouse? Who should have a priority – our children or our parents? But you are right. We should spend the time with our dear ones as often as we can and while we still can. I wish you to make it to your close ones soon. Hugs! Lubica

  2. My dear Lubica!
    I send you a thousand hugs. I am so very sorry for your loss.

    It a very important topic you bring up here and I often have exactly the same thoughts. I try not to think about it too often as it makes me sad (and I even sometimes feel guilty) that I am not with my parents and see them as often as I want to, help them out… I struggle a lot with these thoughts especially when I make myself aware of if I decide for one thing I cannot have the other thing, and also to see that the relationship to my parents has changed since I moved… Maybe it is part of getting an adult, and, as you wrote, dealing with more complicated inner conflicts.

    Take care, dear Lubica, and hopefully it makes it a bit easier to think that our moms/parents will always be close with us in our hearts and thoughts ❤️

    1. <3 Thank you, Anna! The feeling of guilt is very present in my thoughts, too. I really believe, that our parents want the best for us, even if that might be a struggle for themselves. Who forgives you anything, if not them? And I also believe, that if the relationship is right, it is as you wrote, our parents are always close with us <3 At least is comforting for me to see it this way. Have a lovely weekend, Lubica

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