Photo by Christopher Harris on Unsplash
Many people associate grief solely with emotions centered on the loss of a person, the emotion of grief can however, be connected to any great loss. It is possible to experience grief from the loss of a job, a failed relationship, graduation from school, leaving home for the first time, and moving to a new country.
Each of these types of grief carries its own stages of expression, and coping mechanisms. This post will be focused on those who have relocated to another country, and have little chance or hope of ever returning home. We live in a land of immigrants. Many of them are here because of war or persecution and they will, in all likelihood, never be able to return safely home.
Hiraeth (pronounced [heer-a-eth]) is a Welsh concept of longing for home. 'Hiraeth' is a word which cannot be completely translated, meaning more than solely "missing something" or "missing home." It implies the meaning of missing a time, an era, or a person - including homesickness for what may not exist any longer.
I have a dear friend who recently wrote about her feelings of leaving her home of Genova, Italy more than 30 years ago and how to this day she longs for the smells, food, family, ocean, and life that she never expects to see again. Even if she were able to travel back to her homeland, it would not be the same. My friend is quite resilient, and has resigned herself to this. Yet on the anniversary of her voyage to this country, everything that she longs for from her past life comes to the surface and reminds her of what has been left behind ~ Hiraeth.
Many people who have experienced this type of loss feel that they have been stripped of everything that makes them who they are. If you happen to fall in to this category of grief there are some things that are important to remember. Primary among them is that you are still ethnically who you are. Perhaps you have had to learn a new language and adopt new customs and expectations, this does not mean that you must give up those that you were born with. Especially at this time of year when tradition and custom are so important to the celebration of holidays, you are encouraged to continue with the traditions of whatever homeland you have left.
Secondly, acknowledge your emotions. If you acknowledge the fact that there will be things you will miss and things you may be happy to do without, you will set yourself up for success and avoid being blindsided by your emotions.
Finally, create new traditions. My friend has incorporated some traditions that she loves from her homeland (generally involving food) and combined them with new customs derived over her many years here, resulting in a unique way of celebrating that is culturally significant to her and her family, here and now.
While it may be impossible to recreate that which you have left behind, it is possible to create something new which will one day inspire the same level of emotional love for your place. There is no place like home ~ wherever HOME happens to be.