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The guilt of living apart from family

Community Member

Hi all,

I’m needing some encouragement at the moment... from anyone who can help or who may be experiencing a similar situation to myself.

I grew up in WA, all of my family and friends live there, but I moved to NSW with my partner in 2019 (his family are in NSW). Because of COVID I’ve only just been able to come back to WA and visit my family after nearly 1.5 years. This has been incredibly hard for me, as I’m very close with my parents/sibling, and I feel heartbroken to see my nephews growing up so quickly and I feel like I am missing out on so much..
I’m feeling incredibly anxious about going back to NSW after my holiday in WA ends in 2 weeks. I feel guilty for leaving my family again, I’m scared that something will happen to them and I worry that I will regret having ever moved away. I’m particularly stressed about covid’s border closures with my grandparents being old, and am worried that if something were to happen to them that I may not be able to get home again.
On top of this im finding it so hard to manage my time in WA. I feel there are so many people I should be catching up with, including my best friend. But I feel all I want to do is be with my parents, my brother and my nephews. I don’t want to disappoint others but I feel so anxious about spending time out with friends at the expense of precious time with my family who I have missed so so much..

I feel even more guilty complaining of this as I know so many other people have it worse off than me, like people with family overseas. But this is my experience and what I’m feeling. I feel so anxious, worried and sad about leaving again before I’ve even allowed myself time to enjoy being here... it’s making me question why I moved in the first place. But I am studying and hoping to get a new career, but it does make you question whether all of this “bettering yourself” is really worth it if you have to do it away from the people you love most..

2 Replies 2

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Louise, and a warm welcome to the site.

There are people worse off than us, but that's not what you should be considering, it's basically how you are feeling we need to consider.

This has been an enormous decision to move with your boyfriend to NSW, sometimes what we decide to do maybe beneficial or for the love of a person can make this decision for you, the only concern is whether or not this love remains, and please I'm not suggesting it won't, it's just a point of view and sorry if I have upset you.

Even though you can still talk with your family via skype, it's not the same as a cuddle with a kiss or them approaching you asking for your advice over the simplest of things or vice-versa.

There maybe the possibility of transferring your course back to WA or perhaps doing it online, but this depends on the friends you've made while in NSW.

The love for your family won't change and any job might bring you back to WA, then another decision will need to be made, what to do about your relationship, so in either circumstance, it puts you in an awkward decision.

I know it does make it difficult visiting your home town, there are too many people to try and catch up with, and this only creates stress you don't need.

Hope to hear back from you.


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Dear Louise13,

I'm someone with family overseas. I want to reassure you that you shouldn't feel guilty about how you're feeling. Separation from your family, whether within Australia or overseas, feels pretty much the same in these COVID times since borders have been closing internationally and locally.

It's a huge decision to move and it's brave of you to make that sacrifice. After all, one of you had to. Either your partner leaves his family and moves to WA, or you left yours and moved to NSW. I definitely understand your fears about not being able to be there for family members who are older and there is no way to deal with that, honestly. Just treasure the time you have with them whenever you meet them, because life will move on as it should and none of us can predict what will happen.

It's okay not to meet with your friends in WA. You're there for two weeks and you have to prioritize. Your family is important to you and you want to spend time with them. That's understandable and no one should make you feel guilty about not catching up with them in that short time you're in WA. You could consider inviting your best friend to your family home so that you can catch up with them while still being with your family. But there is no obligation for you to do this. In fact, I have known of people visiting their home countries abroad and not even informing their friends of their visit since they wanted to spend time with family! Feeling guilty and sad when leaving is also a common part of the experience.

The decision as to whether you want to stay in NSW or WA is yours. Maybe with time, you'll be able to deal with the move easier. Once the COVID situation is under control, it wouldn't be this bad either. Keep hoping - a lot of us are doing that 🙂

Take care,