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Homesick blues 3

Image from PixabayThis is the final epistle in a trilogy of posts concerning homesickness – particularly as it affected this recently retired immigrant (albeit an imperceptible one!) from the UK to the Pacific Northwest. The first two parts – should you wish to consult them – are easy to locate, but for those who prefer to follow links rather than navigation can be found here and here.

Though the end result may be pretty much the same, feelings of homesickness can come in many different guises. The ever helpful InterWebNet offers much useful guidance to aid the identification of the causes and thus assist reasonably rapid recovery. I found these discovered items – presented in no particular order – to be useful:

This article on gritandglamour.com – entitled ‘Getting over Homesickness‘ – draws attention to the parallels between homesickness and the grieving process.

“The brain on homesickness is much like the brain on grief—the stages and emotions are remarkably similar, and that makes sense. You are, after all, mourning the death of your former existence to a large degree.”

The article also contains a useful set of links to other related resources.

The importance of allowing oneself to grieve those things that have been lost is also the theme of an article entitled ‘One thing no HR Manager will ever tell you when re-locating‘ on a website called medibroker.com. Of course, the need to grieve that which has been lost is not by any means exclusive to expats – it is an essential skill that we must all needs acquire – but emigration can bring a number of such losses into focus at the same time.

I also found this article – ‘Homesickness isn’t really about Home‘ by Derrick Ho on the CNN website – to be most helpful.

“It (homesickness) stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security — feelings and qualities usually associated with home, said Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama’s School of Public Health. When these qualities aren’t present in a new environment, we begin to long for them — and hence home. “You’re not literally just missing your house. You’re missing what’s normal, what is routine, the larger sense of social space, because those are the things that help us survive,” Klapow said.”

This was particularly apt in my case since I wasn’t just missing the sights snd sounds of home. Though I do – of course – miss friends and family, at this point in our lives our get-togethers and gatherings have in any case become rather few and far between. Also, although I do love my mother country fiercely the end of November does not present it at its best and such ‘delights’ as are to be found at that time are not the stuff on which I dream when I fantasise about its bosky beauties. My brief bout of homesickness clearly had other causes.

It did not take much soul-searching to identify what these causes might be. As the gentle reader is doubtless aware I am not just a recent immigrant – I am also a recently retired immigrant. To the other losses with which I have had to come to terms on moving to a new country must be added those associated with reaching the end of my working life. Such include the loss of the status that paid employ provides – the loss of a sense of structure to my life – the loss of a regular routine… in fact one might go so far as to suggest the loss of a sense of purpose.

I have spent much of the past few years telling anyone who would listen that I had no fears concerning retirement. I was eagerly anticipating being able to devote most of my time to artistic and creative endeavours once I no longer had to endure the daily trudge to and from London.

It is still very much my intention that this will be the case, but it seems that I underestimated the extent to which the opportunities that my previous working existence provided enabled me to exercise my creative muscle. Teaching drama at the School – directing plays there and at my previous school – availing myself of an outlet for my play-writing and composition… all of these will take some replacing and I duly mourn their passing.

The key element in this particular round of homesickness was thus mostly to do with the feeling of a loss of ‘significance‘. That is in itself a big topic which will require further examination – and which will in turn lead to further discourse on this forum.

That is – however – quite enough for now…


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  1. Diana Studer’s avatar

    I’ve done the desperately homesick in Switzerland. My heart always in Africa. Living there in flats I missed a garden, and cats, and feeling at home rather than passing thru in a hotel.

    Bulding alterations stalled would be very frustrating! Living thru the work being done, is tiresome. But waiting is worse.

    When our building plans were passed promptly before Christmas last year – we were delighted to move briskly ahead.


  2. admin’s avatar

    Thank you. Being eternal optimists we are confident that things will indeed work out as planned in the new year.

    Seasons greetings!


  3. Shannon Barnes’s avatar

    i was forced into temporary retirement 6 years ago, an event that unfortunately somewhat coincided with the dreaded “change” of a woman’s life, and felt for a period of time that I was losing my mind. All motivation to be productive left me and I drifted aimlessly from one day to the next. Although I had worked most of my adult life I had never considered myself as having a particular career (other than raising two sons, who were now old enough to look after themselves), and I finally figured out that what I was missing most was a sense of purpose. I also figured out that I had better find a purpose outside of my husband, children and job before I retired “for real”. I am now working, more part-time than full-time, but have found that this time around I am less emotionally invested in my job, and have forced myself to cultivate a life outside of my home. Old interests have been re-ignited (horses and riding), which in turn has brought new friends, and my purpose in life is now to never again be without a purpose, whatever that may be. I do have a very thorough understanding of homesickness, having moved from Canada to Africa, where I lived for 18 years, but that homesickness never compared in intensity to the homesickness for my old life that I experienced 6 years ago, so I am extremely empathetic to your mood.

    As the proverbial “they” have often said, “this too shall pass” (the knowledge of which, in my experience, does absolutely nothing to help in the moment), and of course spring and the return of the sun will be wonderful medicine for what ails you. You will never be insignificant, except perhaps in your own eyes, so maybe for a time you should look at yourself as those who love you see you, rather than how you see yourself.


    1. admin’s avatar

      Hello Shannon

      Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment. It is much appreciated.

      You are quite right in that it is entirely possible to be so wrapped up in life that one doesn’t really sit down and think out what one’s purpose truly is. Then along comes a major life event – children leaving home, illness, retirement or suchlike – and we find ourselves looking into an unexpected void.

      I like that you have found a purpose in actually having a purpose. Living mindfully and being fully engaged is most important, but often gets lost in the maelstrom of everyday events.

      My bout of homesickness was blessedly brief – though I do know that it will recur (because that’s apparently how it works). As I wrote in the post to which you commented – I do intend to write further on the subject of significance. Having been fortunate enough to have worked with young people over an extended period I do believe that I have been able to do something of value. I am very much hoping that I can find a way to continue that in some fashion, and I am working to that end now.

      Thank you very much for your kindness and caring. I will take your words to heart.




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