I've been feeling a bit low the last few weeks and have been, if I'm totally honest, desperate to get back to the UK.
You could say I'm suffering with FOMO (Fear of missing out) except what I'm missing out on back home isn't the fun stuff, it's the hard times.
Last week my 17 year old was a pall bearer for his friend who died in September of Cancer, he was 18. I've never met the young man, but him and my son have lived together at their school since 2013, he is part of my son's family.
My SIL is also undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and has surgery at the end of the year, followed by radiotherapy.
One Uncle aged 87 is in a hospice with cancer and isn't going to get any better, he is my mother's eldest brother. There are 8 in total and he will be the first of the siblings to die, which marks a big change in my Mothers life. I remember her saying back in 1994 when her Mother died 'well that's it, I'm the adult now'
Another Uncle who is 63 died last Tuesday morning, he was diagnosed 2 weeks earlier with lung cancer. He is my Father's youngest brother by 14 years, my Father's middle brother died a few years ago of cancer also.
My middle son announced last week he has been given his first 'dangerous' overseas posting with the army, the middle of next year.
I'm worrying about everyone back home, I'm run down and have a throat and chest infection.
To answer my own question 'How do I deal with family issues when I live as an expat?'
I remind myself NOT to feel guilty, we knew the consequences, we knew we'd be missing out on things, christenings, birthdays, family parties, weddings.
We knew to some extent we'd be living in isolation, that people back home would move on without us, they would be ill, they would die, that we couldn't be there at the drop of a hat.
We knew that people would understand we couldn't just pop over, be there in time, wouldn't resent our decision to live so far away. That they'd come and visit us, have holidays in locations they probably would never go to unless we lived there.
I don't feel guilty, no one makes me feel like I don't care, but I don't think anyone realises just how helpless and lonely we feel and that apart from one another, there's no one to support us through these difficult times, as much as we want to be there, for everyone, we also need to be there for ourselves, to have someone say 'sorry for your loss' whether it's the loss of the good or the bad times.
I've made the decision to fly back to the UK for the funeral a week today. There is actually NO reason not to go, despite living 3000 miles away. I collect car hire from Birmingham airport on Thursday and return the following Thursday. I will get to see the children and my parents as well as my sister and 5 year old niece. Although it will be a sad occasion, it's always nice to spend time with the family, as this week has shown me, that life is too short and you just don't know what is round the corner.