letting go of loved ones - an act of kindness

Letting Go of Loved Ones – An Act of Kindness

The crisis in Ukraine is escalating.  Putin’s announcements of a military mobilization and referendums has brought a new level of fear to the world.  So much loss.  The Ukraine has unfathomably suffered.  The news is inundated with images of young Russian people fleeing their homes, trying to avoid being forced to fight in one man’s senseless battle to defend his ego.  More loss.  Letting go of loved ones is a daily part of life.

Letting Go – An Act of Kindness

It’s happening in my own family.  This week, my sister-in-law and nephew left Moscow to join her husband, who managed to secure a two-year business startup visa in Europe for his family.  Putin’s actions spurred a mass exodus, including half of my family.  But what about the other half?

My husband’s parents are not leaving Russia.  They’re in their 80’s, still working and have lived the last 60 years in Moscow.  It’s just too hard to start over.  So, they said goodbye to the last of their family left in Russia – with nothing but love, support, and words of encouragement.  It was the greatest gift of kindness they could give.

Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future.

Daphne Rose Kingma

An Angst-Filled Move

My brother and sister-in-law didn’t want to leave Russia.  They both had successful careers, friends, family, and prosperous lives.  When we visited with them this past summer, they explained then that there was no perspective for a future in Russia.  The events of last week simply sped up the process.  But they are the lucky ones.  They have savings and an education and speak a variety of languages.  Any international move, though, is a lengthy process full of hurdles, both emotional and logistical.

Relieving the Burden

I’ve always known that my in-laws are generous.  I talk about my mother-in-law, Tatiana, in this article, detailing how she provides a hot dinner on a daily basis to the worker in her apartment building.  However, it’s hard to be giving when you’re losing.  Finding the strength to provide support and loving words amidst their own pain is an amazing act of generosity and kindness.

The unconditional love and support shown by my in-laws has been key in giving their children the strength to persevere.  When any loved one chooses to make a major life change, it is stressful and daunting.  In addition to the challenges associated with making the actual leap, that person can suffer from a burden of guilt stemming from the feeling they are abandoning the people they love most.  Letting your loved ones go with compassion and love helps relieve that burden they’re carrying and provides a greater chance for them to flourish.

A Story Close to Home

The selfless acts of my in-laws have sparked memories of my own departure when I was in my 20’s.  I met my husband in graduate school, and we decided to move to his home country, Russia, immediately after graduation.  An international move in my family was unheard of at that time.  There wasn’t even internet yet.  Both my husband’s and my parents were slow to warm to the idea of their child marrying a citizen of a rival superpower country.  When my husband called my Dad to inform him he was going to propose, he infamously replied, “I hope it’s a long engagement.”  But, the proposal was accepted and our plans were set, there was nothing less than positivity from all of them.

Of course, I felt tremendous guilt for leaving my family and friends.  I still had 4 siblings living at home with my parents.  My sister was only four years old.  I was also scared; with no Russian language abilities and no job, I felt very unprepared for the first time in my life.  I was brazenly following the love of my life.  If my family had not fully supported me, I may not have taken the plunge.  My mom’s wise words fostered the courage I needed:  

“Your priority is your own family now.  You have to do what’s right for them.”

– My Mom

Tips for Letting Go of Loved Ones

Normally, I try to share little nuggets of advice that have served me well in the past.  This time, I don’t have much to offer.  Letting go of loved ones is hard.  Life can be hard.  Looking past loss and wholeheartedly supporting your loved ones on their journeys is a selfless act of kindness.  But don’t underestimate the joy you will find when you see your loved one blossom in ways you might never have imagined possible.


Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to stay.
The Dalai Lama


  • Jami Murphy says:

    This was very hard to read. Frank and I were just wondering about your sister in law and her husband. I’m glad they have arranged to leave but also so bittersweet. My love goes out to you and all your family, especially Vlad’s lovely parents.

  • Kristin says:

    I have been wondering as well as your family above if things went to plan for Vlad’s sister. It’s a heartbreaking situation and echoes so many in less harrowing international lifestyles. Glad to know they’ve got out safely and I am keeping Vlad’s parents in my thoughts. What a wonderful and brave pair they are. Much love!!

  • Pam Wildman says:

    I have thought of you, Vlad and your family so so many times this year.
    I was afraid to reach out because of potential backlash to your family.
    This is one of the saddest stories for not only your family but also the world.
    Vlad’s parents will be in my prayers and thoughts.
    Thank you for sharing a personal story of the horrors that not only the Ukrainian people are experiencing but now we have knowledge of the deeply felt suffering and angst of the Russian people.
    Until the recent news of the mass exodus, I wasn’t sure what many Russians knew of the situation.
    As always, pray for peaceful times again and much love to you and Vlad.

    • Patricia Makatsaria says:

      thank you for your note, Pam. It truly is a tragedy. And, yes, we’ll keep praying that this somehow turns around! Hope you and Dan are well. x

  • Deedee Murphy says:

    It is heartbreaking all around. While we are happy that your sister-in-law and family could get out, leaving family and friends is traumatic. Hope you can continue to stay in touch and we pray with all our hearts that there is a peaceful resolution soon. Sending love!

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