Seeking a cure for homesickness
Published: September 29, 2010
Q. We just moved overseas for the first time. The first two months flew by, and now everything is slowing down. I miss home and my friends. How do you deal with being homesick and getting out there to make friends? Please help. I need some advice.
A. When you move and leave behind the comfort of familiar faces and places, feeling homesick and lonely is completely natural. Even though you feel lonely, you are not alone in your experience
Even those of us who have moved many times still feel sad during the adjustment to a new place and struggle with finding new friends.
I talked to Susan Miller, author of several books about family transitions, including "After the Boxes are Unpacked: Moving On after Moving In," for her advice about homesickness and friendships.
"As women, we have an overwhelming need for a sense of belonging and a sense of community," said Susan, who grew up in the military and was also a military wife.
"When you PCS overseas, your whole environment is different," she said.
"That pain of separation and that feeling of rootlessness often leave us feeling wounded and lonely and very homesick."
Paradoxically, while this condition reduces one’s willingness to start over, Susan said plugging into a new community is the antidote for the pain.
"The only thing that makes homesickness go away is to put roots down, to begin to make friends," she said, "and it takes time."
Making friends takes patience and persistence, she said, and her best advice is, "Don’t give up."
"There are so many other young moms just like you going through the same thing that you’re going through. Meeting them is not going to happen unless you continually persevere. That will be the catalyst for building new relationships."
Susan offered some practical ideas for finding friends and overcoming homesickness:
- Join clubs or volunteer: This is a way to find friends and cultivate a connection to a new community
- Connect with a church or Bible study
- Host your own coffee or tea to meet new neighbors: "Sometimes you have to be the initiator, and I know that’s not easy, but who said this was going to be easy?
- Stay in touch with friends back home by writing real letters as well as email: "Write family and friends and share with them how much you cherish them."
- "A fun thing to do is to make a video or DVD tour of your new culture and to actually send that to family and friends," she said. "It kind of bridges the gap."
- Journal: "I always encourage a woman to keep a journal when she is homesick. This helps a woman through the process of letting go and starting over and moving ahead with her life."
- Recognize the difference between cherishing the past and clinging to it.
Although these suggestions can help, Susan stressed there is no easy formula to cure the moving blues.
"We can’t just wipe feelings out with one or two suggestions. The feelings are going to be there. Homesickness and loneliness are part of the process of moving. It’s part of learning to let go," Susan said. "It will make you stronger."
"It’s part of who you are to have friends and sense of community. You wouldn’t take anything for that," she said. "Is there pain in that when you’re separated? Of course there is."
Although there is no quick fix, the good news is that overwhelming homesickness will not last forever. Give yourself time and keep reaching out.
Find more moving tips from Susan Miller and her ministry, including some especially for military families, at "Just Moved."