Impact of Grief on the Lives of Immigrants

In our fast paced world, we don’t seem to have time to catch our breath, let alone to be with ourselves and with each other without an agenda.

We distract ourselves constantly with phones, food, TV, etc. We are in a hurry trying to get somewhere. We don’t have patience to be with the unknown or to sit in silence.

In such a contracted state that “lack of time” seems to create, the conditions are set up to not feel much, to live in a constant state of disconnect.

Have you considered the possibility that a busy lifestyle and constant pursuit “traditional” forms of success, is a symptom of running away from something? Like a feeling or an experience that we don’t want to have? Something that frightens us, something that might be painful or unpleasant. Something that doesn’t make immediate sense.

One of the emotions we run from is: GRIEF.

The immigrant and refugee experiences, although distinct from each other, contain multiple forms of grief.

The journey itself comprises of a transition, from one country to another, in many cases from one continent to another. The change is often accompanied by multiple losses and at the same time by hope for a brighter future.

The geographical move is followed by shifts in the inner landscape. As immigrants, we lose parts of our identity. We loose outside structures that shaped us and lodged us into place. We miss people we don’t get a chance to be in physical proximity with for extended periods of time. We live between countries, in a liminal space.

In the experience of refugees (myself included), we loose homelands that often times we can’t return to. We loose communities that our lineages used to be a part of. We loose a sense of continuity and we learn to live in exile, while longing for new forms of love and belonging.

What we lost, either by choice or force, needs to be acknowledged, felt and relinquished. The weight of grief that occupies our hearts and bodies, can be lightened, not in a goal oriented approach, but rather in an “ebb and flow” kind of way. The process is unpredictable and asks us to surrender and to trust our Soul.

When grief is allowed to move through us, the emptied space inside gets filled with lightness, joy and a sense of rootedness.

Numb places become alive and the icy parts of our being melt into warmth. The spectrum of our capacities becomes broader. We feel stronger. We experience greater openness and connection.

The inherent meaning of life becomes more palpable.

Soulful living becomes possible.

Life feels richer.

We grow in wisdom.


If you’d like to explore grief in community, I invite you to attend this event.

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