I had not heard of the word, or did not remember it, which is not the issue here, but the meaning of the word has been playing with my heart-strings ever since.
Initially it brought me to tears, as apart from a couple of cousins and three elderly aunts whom I love dearly and speak to reasonably often (although I feel a bit guilty, as it is never often enough!), my husband and two sons are the ONLY family who support me, or are connected to me in any meaningful way. Some of my family no longer even speak to us at all, and have removed themselves and their children from our lives. It feels like the word hiraeth also applies to this.
Their loss, not mine/ours is easy to say, but the impact is not just on me, but on my sons who have basically lost cousins and aunts and uncles in the process. I think this is cruel and unacceptable, but understand there are some things I cannot change, no matter how hard I tried to. I have simply had to adjust and heal, which is a constant journey and process needed to deal with the hurt.
But beyond my immediate family pain and feelings of hiraeth there, my experience of living with dementia also feels like an experience of hiraeth:
a homesickness or longing for who and what I once was, who I used to be, the capacities and memories I once had. I grieve for the lost memories and knowledge, the lost places of my past I can no longer recall and that often cause me to feel disconnected from myself and from the family and friends whom do still have a close relationship with me…
The homesickness for a home to which I cannot return, a home which maybe never way; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of my past… this all relates to my experience of living with a diagnosis of dementia.