Mental Health and Migration


What happens when someone emigrates?

-Let’s talk about the migratory duel

By: Jonathan Olivera, psychologist

When a person emigrates, they usually come to look for work, resolve their legal status and go through a migratory duel, in which they begin an adaptation process in which they discover a new place and seek to learn to relate, evaluating who they can trust.


It may take months for the person to adjust, so he will need a broad understanding from the people he left behind.


Migration grief is a natural process experienced by a large part of the people who emigrate.


Although it is not a rule that all people generate, it is quite normal that most go through various feelings, sensations, nostalgia, guilt, fear and anxiety about what their new life will be.


The most complex thing is that parallel to the duel it is necessary to achieve emotional stability in order to continue. The first months will be full of changes, where many people prefer to isolate themselves, suffer in silence and are faced with the difficulty of speaking with those they miss, projecting that everything “is fine” so as not to generate extra worries that they cannot carry.


According to the psychologist Jonathan Olivera, “migratory grief” is a process that happens as a consequence of moving, moving, leaving everything, or at least what is familiar to start a new course in life.


Likewise, it is a present duel in many migration processes, both in a first and in a second migration. It brings a stir of emotions, hopelessness, anxiety, fear, sadness, and even guilt.


Faced with migratory grief, not only is the person who leaves affected, but those who remain are also affected. Therefore, it is necessary to go through this duel in the healthiest way, living it since this is the only way to cope:


For those who are leaving: It is normal to feel all this stirring of emotions, it is normal to feel fear. The most important thing is that it is seen as a process, it is common to even wonder: When will I see them again?


It is important to recognize all this as normal and to see guilt as a consequence of the cultural influence that has instilled in us the belief that it is necessary to always be with the family.


Given this, you should try not to isolate yourself, work to build a new life, a new space, at a personal pace, in the course of possibilities, intelligently managing your resources without being easily dazzled.


For those who stay: It is common to notice an emotional detachment, however, this does not mean that they have forgotten the person. Many things are happening, it is normal to feel fear, anxiety, worry.


Therefore, care must be taken not to transmit that concern to the other person, which can be combated by transmitting love and support to the person who left in the way possible.


Olivera points out that it is important to take into account, be respectful with the country and with those who receive you, adapt to the new norms of that society, work on connecting and relating, that will always make it easier. Over time it is possible that everything will be easier, in grief it is normal to feel anxious or distressed.

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