Asking for a friend: Help! All my friends are emigrating to other countries, and now I feel lonely

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  • Each week, we respond to a question from our readers and give advice and resources they can turn to
  • This week, we help a student who is feeling alone as their friends leave Hong Kong
YP Team |
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It can feel very lonely to see your friends leave. Photo: Shutterstock

Need an answer to a personal question that you’ve never mustered the courage to ask? We’ve been there. Whether it is about school, family issues or social life, share your thoughts with us. If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please fill out this Google Form. Don’t worry – you will remain anonymous!

Dear Friend,

So many people are emigrating and starting new lives in other countries, but I am here to stay. Every time my friends tell me they are leaving, it makes me feel lonely and demoralised. What should I do?

Best, Anxious

Help! I get jealous when my friend hangs out with their other friends

Dear Anxious,

We understand where your pain is coming from, and it’s a tough situation. Sadly, it is a stage of life we all face – you’re just experiencing it a little earlier than expected. Here are a few things you can do:

Acknowledge and accept your feelings

Of course, it’s normal to feel sad and stressed when someone close to us moves away; it brings up fears of loneliness and separation anxiety. Give yourself time to adjust. As the old saying goes, “Time heals all wounds”.

Time is the best healer. Photo: Shutterstock

Make the most of your remaining time

Moving to another country is very stressful for your friends; they have to start their lives all over again! Try to be supportive. You can help them pack and discuss how you’ll keep in touch once they’re gone. You could even throw them a farewell party or arrange a small gift to remind them of home. You might be tempted to pull away from your friends because you’re afraid of feeling hurt, but try to avoid that instinct because you could end up regretting it.

I want to make friends, but I don’t know how to become close to someone

Keep in touch

Thanks to the internet, there are so many ways you can keep in touch with your friends. Video chats, texting, and social media can all help you communicate with your friends regularly. You could even send actual, physical letters! People feel very touched knowing that someone thought of them and sent them a letter.

Just because your friends are leaving, it doesn’t mean your friendships are over; they have simply changed into a different form. But, again, this adjustment needs time – and make sure to give yourself that time. On the bright side, having friends all around the world means you always have somewhere to visit and someone to see.

Hope that helps, Friend of a friend

The question was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under Shall We Talk, a mental health initiative launched with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.

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