When you are forced to leave your home due to crisis and conflict and move to a new country, you may experience many losses that cause grief. Most of us think of grief happening in the period following the death of a loved one. Grief is a strong and overwhelming sadness that can impact your mind, body, and spirit.  


Certainly, after the death of a loved one, grief is expected. But it is normal and natural for people to grieve other types of losses too:


  • Separation from loved ones: Leaving family and friends who were often there during times of difficulty and celebration.  
  • Jobs and careers: It may be hard to re-enter your profession in the U.S. or find certain qualifications don’t easily transfer to the U.S. job market.
  • Home and possessions: You leave familiar streets, sights, and smells. You might also leave behind a sense of belonging and identity. 


Grief can look very different from person to person: 


  • Different types of emotions, like numbness, sorrow, denial, anger, yearning, bitterness, hopelessness, guilt, and more. People can move through multiple emotions related to grief in a day or week, or they may go through different emotional phases of grieving. 
  • Physical pain and illness, such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, joint pain, poor sleep, elevated blood pressure, and nausea.  
  • Changes in behavior: Grief can make us not want to be around others, be more angry or irritable, less patient, less interested in or able to connect with others, and decrease our ability to function. 


There is no right way, or one way, to grieve. Although grief does tend to lessen over time, there is no right length of time to grieve. 


If you are experiencing grief, be patient with yourself and know that coping with loss takes time. Here are some tips to help you cope: 


  • Reach out to people you trust and who can support you. This may be faith leaders, friends, or family.  
  • Make time for things that comfort you or help you cope, like prayer, exercise, and deep breathing.  
  • Stick to a routine. This includes getting up and going to bed at the same time every day, making sure you have regular meals, and drinking plenty of water. 


Pay close attention to how you are feeling and functioning over time. If many months have passed and you find you are feeling worse or less able to function, you may want to reach out to your doctor or a counselor for more support. If you find you are unable to get out of bed, take basic care of yourself, or are having thoughts of not wanting to live, it is important that you reach out for support right away. You can call 9-8-8 or your local crisis line for more support.