Missionary conversations: part 5
Final post on a discussion with missionaries that have returned from the mission field and are experiencing Re-entry Grief
J: What they [home community] quite likely recognize is loss of role, but not the loss of relationships [in host country]. Changed relationships in the home country may be experienced with family members, the community or within the mission organization, but are not acknowledged.
H: How they [family] see me? I have no idea but . . . I don’t think any differently to how they used to think. . . . You know families hold memories more than reality, I think.
A: it may be . . . “what a relief that you’re back and you’ll feel relieved and you know, this is your home and your family’s here you know, thank goodness everything’s rosy for you now.” So I think there’s probably not . . . quite understanding of that loss.
G: It’s [re-entry] just something that everybody goes through so they [the mission community] just expect you to adjust I think. . . . Yeah, I think in a way they kind of expected you to go through those feelings, … but, it wasn’t as if anybody offered to even listen.
G: I feel put up on a pedestal. . . . And so when people ask how are you going, they’re already thinking in a mind set that says you’re doing all right because you’re missionaries (laughter).
B: No, for many of them, like when you think about grief, . . . they think that meant loss of a person. . . . I don’t think they’ve really got an understanding of how, how the change in situation can cause grief or loss.
Finally, the way the re-entering missionary grieves and their expression of grief is not supported by their community.
N: There are very few people to express it [grief] to. . . . The missionary society tended to professionalize it.
From “Back Home: a qualitative study exploring re-entering cross-cultural missionary aid workers’ loss and grief” Published in Omega 59:1 2008-2009