Here is what she asked:
I’m wondering if you may have or know of any information in form of articles, a support web page or support group for Canadian families of snowbirds who are left behind. I am struggling with some issues and want to see if there are others who are in the same shoes as I am. I’d like to see how they cope, deal with and come to terms with the way in which we are left to deal with the life that snowbirds leave behind. It would be nice to share and communicate with other families - left behind.
Her question deals with one of the key elements of a successful retirement: relationships. In her case, and with many others, the relationship is disrupted when some members head to Arizona or Florida, or whether they go to escape the cold and snow for months at a time. While she is asking about Canadian groups, her question is really universal in importance.
I do not know anything about the particular concerns that prompted this email when (probably) parents or grandparents head south. But, I can speculate. There could be a natural concern for the health and well being of the snowbirds. Being away from a family support system and regular medical providers entails some risk.
In very close families (I can relate!) having important members gone for months at a time can leave others unhappy and without important interpersonal contact. Sharing good and bad news by email, phone calls, or even Skype video contact is just not as satisfying. Missing a grandchild's performance in a school play, or helping a son or daughter celebrate a new job are some of the missed moments that cannot be recaptured.
Importantly, this reader is not asking for help in convincing the snowbirds to stay home. She is asking for feedback on how others deal with the extended absences of loved ones and the complications that arise.
On a personal note, I can relate to some of what this email expresses. Betty and I have decided that being away from our family for more than two months is just not workable. Luckily we don't have to escape the snow, but we do try to miss some of the brutal Phoenix summer heat by heading to Portland or San Diego in the RV. Originally we thought that 3-4 months on the road would work for us, but that just isn't the case. Being away from loved ones for that long doesn't make any of us happy. We all miss each other too much.
Now I am turning to you. What solace or comfort can you offer to not only this reader but others who have the same concerns? What suggestions do you have that might make being left behind easier? Are you aware of any web sites or support groups that exist? When a snowbird leaves, what do those who stay behind have to do to cope?