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.

Who, what, why, where…

I hate talking about myself, which could make having a web site based on my personal experiences, thoughts, desires, and peccadillos awkward at the least. Nonetheless, here I am … a person who uses “nonetheless” in her daily interactions. There is quite a bit more, but the plan is to reveal details slowly. Let’s (whoever you are) think of details as breadcrumbs left behind leading to some greater understanding. Or, not.

Most likely, I would not be here, in this digital space, were it not for a project for one of my classes. There have been occasions when the idea of starting a blog crossed my mind. But, having never kept a diary or journal (hell, I can’t even keep up with a daily planner), it’s obvious intrinsic motivation was not sufficient. The initiating project required me to provide a written product—something along the lines of traditional academic scholarship—and a multimodal component. Well, folks, here we are multi-modaling (I’m coining that word) our way forward.

That second paragraph might sound more like the why aspect of this enterprise, but it’s not. This is where things can get uncomfortable for some people. I am here to write about death. Well, that’s not quite right. I am here to deal with? Work through? Endure? I don’t really know. Perhaps the next few words will help to communicate my own difficulty. My son died almost two years ago. Once I share that, the conversation usually changes. At least for others. Not for me, though. That fact is always present for me.

So, I am the mother of a deceased child. That’s who I am. This is my personal grief journey. That’s the what. But why? There are a number of possible reasons for a grief journey that I will explore in future posts.

And, of course… where will all this take me? Come along with me to see if that question can be answered.