As an immigrant, you have experienced loss, and it is okay to grieve

Change is messy, difficult, and emotional. You might know what stage you are going through, recognize all the patterns and reasons, and have all the tools at your disposal to navigate it, but you might still struggle.

Regulating emotions sounds wonderful in psychologists’ terms and in inspiring social media clips, but in real life—where you carry still-open wounds of loss—emotions often regulate you instead of the other way around. That’s the reality of life, at least as I observe it in the community of immigrants.

They grieve daily, emotions often overflow, and there is “no time” to feel self-compassion, sit quietly with your feelings, or make sense of them—you need to “catch up” professionally.

We, as community, need to help.


Recognizing Grief

As someone who has lost dear ones, I know grief firsthand. It accompanies you throughout life, and unless you befriend it, know how to hold its hand, and, as my coach once said, “sit for a while and drink tea with it,” it will surprise you at the most unpredictable moments and persist until you learn what you need to.

It is crucial to recognize when you are grieving and what you are grieving for. Often, we associate grief only with the loss of people when, in reality, we can grieve over thousands of different things—feelings, sounds, tastes, states, and more.

You can grieve about

  • Friendships that have ended.
  • Losing your community.
  • Missing the certainty you once had.
  • Questioning your judgment.
  • Releasing who you once were.
  • Feeling lost and unanchored.
  • Losing traditions that you loved.
  • Saying goodbye to familiar places.
  • Missing the sounds of your homeland.
  • Longing for the foods you grew up with.

Recognizing grief, especially as an immigrant, can be complicated by the unique stresses of adapting to a new environment. You might be experiencing grief if you find yourself with a persistent sense of sadness or loss that doesn’t seem to dissipate. It can manifest in longing for your homeland, missing familiar sights, sounds, or smells, or feeling a deep nostalgia for the past.

Other signs include feeling unusually tired or drained, having trouble concentrating or making decisions, or noticing changes in your appetite or sleep patterns. You might also experience mood swings, ranging from irritability to sudden tears, or withdraw from social activities that used to bring you joy.

Emotional expressions of grief can vary widely; some might feel a deep, quiet emptiness, while others might have intense bursts of emotion. Recognizing these symptoms as signs of grief is a crucial step toward seeking support and beginning the healing process. 

Three “H” Question:

Do I Want to be Helped, Heard, or Hugged?

I can’t forget the humorous video I once saw where a woman wanted to be ‘heard,’ but instead, her husband was constantly trying to ‘help’ her. Watch it—it’s funny, but not very much so.

I don’t know if there’s a better way to illustrate where disconnections happen.

Learn how to communicate and express your needs respectfully yet clearly—especially if you’re transitioning from an indirect communication culture to a place like Canada. Discover and consider business priorities and your employer’s capacity to help you.

*Tip for managers: If you are in a management position, you need to learn how to listen across cultures. If you don’t feel that you are “burning calories”, you are probably not listening—yes, that’s how it should feel, especially if you manage a diverse team.

Finding Your Campfire 

Find Co-Healing Partners. I recently heard this term from Dr. Mariel Buque in her interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, and I loved it.

Yes, there are many services designed to support you as an immigrant, but most are structured with you as the “student” and them as the “preacher.” You do need this, but you also need to diversify your learning experiences, where dynamics are equally shared. You need to experience teachable moments where your rich luggage of wisdom benefits others as much as you benefit from theirs. 

Find your circle, your campfire, and your candle to sit around and share your “grief” without fear of judgment—where you can cry together, laugh together, or do anything else but most importantly, heal together—in your own unique way.

Catching Up is Easier with CLARITY©

If you stay healthy, mindful, and strategic, you will catch up—guaranteed.

To save you time, money, and energy, we have launched the “Quiet Tenacity Immigrant Blueprint: Your Guide to Thriving in Canada©.” This program is designed to provide immigrants with comprehensive guidance, tools, and knowledge needed to excel in Canada and to culturally and professionally onboard them.

The program includes 7 modules (35 sessions), each packed with valuable content such as video insights, reading materials, templates, and practical guidelines.

It is an asynchronous learning program, which allows for flexible, self-directed learning tailored to fit life commitments and learning preferences. Each session includes enabled Closed Captioning (CC) to aid understanding and accessibility, ensuring that non-native English speakers can comprehend the material more effectively.

If you have any questions about this new online program, or other services that we offer, please reach out to Our team would be more than happy to answer any queries you might have.

Change is constant, and its emotional undertow can catch even the best-prepared among you off guard. Navigating through change, with all its inherent messiness and emotional turbulence, highlights a universal truth: understanding and managing emotions isn’t just a personal task, but a communal effort.

As you recognize the shared need for help, listening, and empathy, you open the door to deeper healing and understanding, making the journey of adaptation less isolating and more hopeful.

Dare to be culturally curious and never stop learning.