Monday, August 20, 2012

Dealing with Homesickness

Something strange happened a few weeks ago. Every Sunday, my husband and I listen to a sermon together online, sort of as 'extra food' for us. Usually, we listen to a sermon from our family of churches in England, my home church or our sending church. This particular week we listened to a couple from our sending church. It was a good sermon, but I'm not going to talk about that. What really caught me off guard was the feeling of homesickness I felt after listening to that sermon.

Homesickness? Where in the world did that come from? I've lived in England for over a year and a half and have not really struggled with homesickness. Until now.

I could speculate why I'm experiencing it now. Maybe it's because my life has changed dramatically in the past 4 months. Maybe it's because we now have a baby, and I long to be around family so our son can grow up with his grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. Maybe it's because my parents and in-laws have both come and gone recently. I really don't know, but all of a sudden I had this wave of missing the US.
Lake District—The top of High Spy

 How do I deal with homesickness?

Maybe I haven't experienced it since moving to England because I've been intentional in trying to not to be homesick. I've learned a few things about preventing it since moving here as well as from when I was in college. There is, however, something about moving to a foreign country that trumps going away to college in terms of being homesick.

Keep busy.

I had to get involved in things right away. It really helped me to have things to look forward to every week. That could have been working at the church office, meeting ladies for coffee, bringing my husband lunch, or whatever other event that would come up. I found that if I didn't have something to look forward to, it was probably going to be a rough week!

Find a place that reminds you of home.

This was a tip that a friend of mine gave me a few months after moving to England. She told me that sometimes it helps if you can find a place that reminds you of home, like getting coffee at Starbucks or lunch at Subway. For me, it was grocery shopping at Aldi. :)

Find 'family.'

Honestly, it helps a lot that I'm married to Leon, who's lived in England longer than myself. He and Asher are my family now. At the same time, it's helpful to find a family we can be a part of. For example, it will be nice for Asher to have a 'substitute' granny, aunt, uncle, etc. when his real grandparents can't come visit (or we can't go visit them).

Thank God for Skype!

Modern technology has come a long way. Now we have the ability to see our friends and family back home on Skype video. It helped Leon and I as we grew our relationship early on, and it helps us now as we keep in touch with family and friends back home. My favourite part about Skype right now is introducing Asher to my friends and family by way of video (although it hasn't happened that often). I think my parents are glad they can watch Asher grow up through such an amazing technological invention.

Enjoy a cup of tea.

You know I have to say this since we live in England. :) There's just something about a cup of tea that makes my troubles seem to go away. And I can have my cup of tea while doing my next tip.
At Carlisle Cathedral

Look to God.

In reality, this should have been first on my list. As a Christian I should look to God in struggles such as homesickness. He will give me strength. It also helps to keep an eternal perspective—This earth isn't my home, and I'm longing for my home in heaven with Jesus.

So those are some things that I've found help me deal with homesickness while living in England. Have you struggled with homesickness? What have you done to deal with it? How do you help your children deal with homesickness?


  1. I've struggled at times with homesickness. The past few times we've returned from the US, we were leaving from where my parents live, and I spend some time feeling blue because I missed them so much! This happens even when we visit them in the states, or if they visit us, and we're just states away instead of an ocean.

    I agree that staying busy helps. Having team members take care of meals and getting to spend some time with them helps. After a little while the homesick feeling subsides, even though I still miss the people back home.

    I'm very thankful for Skype and Facebook, to keep in touch with family and friends back home!

  2. I'm struggling with homesickness lately, which I'm told is quite normal for the 1year mark. I do feel thankful for facebook and skype, and it is good to sit and grieve for home, for a moment.
    I just wrote some thoughts on what homesickness does for a missionary... stripping us back and making us feel broken.

    Also some thoughts on how it refines us as messengers - to be homesick for heaven.