Cloud Counselling

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Emigration: loss of the familiar.

You have packed your bags. It is time for a new adventure. Perhaps a new goal, a new country, a completely different life. You are excited and ready to go. But you never thought about the grief you might experience when you are emigrating or become an expat. To be honest, I didn’t.  

I moved to Australia in 2017 and then to the United Kingdom in 2019. Each move was a wonderful opportunity but at the same time a rollercoaster with many highs and lows. I realised how far away I was from the people who were so dear to me, especially during periods of grief and loss. My support system had changed. During the daytime, my friends and family were asleep, making it harder to contact them. I wished that someone had told me more about the feelings you might experience when you are living abroad.

Often people think that when you choose to emigrate it is your choice so you will not experience grief. But this is not true. Grief is very common and is often underestimated. Grief does not always happen right away. You might experience grief after a few weeks, after a few months or when something happens. When you have settled into your new home, you have more time to think and process your feelings. You might start to think about all the things you have lost. For example, your daily routine, your old job, your friends and family or even your local grocery store.

Becoming an expat can be difficult. You need to make new friends, find a new job or start a new job. You may have to learn a new language and adapt to new customs. You may even be sitting at home because your partner is working. You might feel lonely, homesick or start to doubt the decision you made. Emigration is a rollercoaster of emotion and it is normal to feel these different moods and have these thoughts. 

You experience these feelings and thoughts because your brain is making sense about everything that has happened. Grief is a natural and healthy way to adjust to your new environment and life. Be mindful that moving to a different country has many highs and many lows. Be kind to yourself and if you want to talk to me about your emigration grief experiences, please feel free to contact me.