Hiraeth — It’s Not That Hard to Say

I should probably talk about the title for this site and explain its significance to me.

A quick search will return some of the following definitions:

Hiraeth is a Welsh word that is somewhat difficult to describe in English, for the reason that there is no single English word that expresses all that it does. Some words often used to try to explain it are homesickness, yearning, and longing.


A blend of homesickness, nostalgia and longing, “hiraeth” is a pull on the heart that conveys a distinct feeling of missing something irretrievably lost.


Or, you could read this very lovely essay from The Paris Review


Want help with pronunciation? The video below may help. I could listen to the speaker’s accent all day.


Hireath is a term that can be defined, and a word that anyone can learn to say with practice. The first time I encountered the word was with a FaceBook post made by an author I have followed for a few years. Mary Balogh is perhaps best known for writing historical romance novels (aka — bodice rippers! For shame!). She is also Welsh, which means that occasionally, she will share some of that heritage with her readers.

When she shared this word, something about it resonated with me. Initially, it was most likely because of my long-lost interactions of Old English studies when I was in grad school at North Carolina State University (breadcrumb). But, over the last year and a half, I kept returning to the word.

When I heard hireath, I realized how that one word encapsulated the emotional circuit I’ve been on since my son died. have been longing for something that is gone, or perhaps that which never existed. When a loved one dies, those who are left behind grieve not only for the individual and all he was or might have been, we grieve for a past and future world. I mourn my son, our home, my place as his mother.

I am consumed with longing for a place that is forever gone and never will be.

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