Coaching Moments: Hiraeth


by Janice Hunter

“When you are adrift from your core, the space between your surface and your depth fills up with anxiety. Too much time away from your inner home leads to homesickness.” ~ Carrie McCarthy and Danielle La Porte

All coaching, in some way, involves guiding folk home to themselves; it makes sense to me, then, that coaches constantly redefine and hone the metaphors of journeys, soulmaps and home.  That’s what brought me back here after so many years away.

Are you ever haunted by a deep longing for home? Homesickness for a home you can’t go back to, or a home which has never even existed? Homesickness woven with inextricable strands of grief or loss? Of yearning, nostalgia or wistful longing?

The Welsh have a word for it… hiraeth.

I think we all feel it sometimes, but those of us who’ve lived a bit longer, who’ve perhaps experienced diminished health or menopause, who’ve had to let go of loved ones, jobs or places, who’ve seen children grow up and leave home, may feel it more intensely; those of us who are starting to feel like survivors may sometimes have a deeper yearning for a haven that doesn’t feel like a haunted house.

Hiraeth is what I feel when I drive several times a week to the small Scottish town where I grew up. My childhood home is long gone and the fields and woods where I used to play are covered in houses now. Home stopped being home when my mum died, and even though my dad is still alive, he’s ninety-one, and there are days when I miss him even when I’m with him.

Hiraeth is what I feel when I miss my kids, even though they’re at university and thriving. I miss the feel of their tiny hands in mine, the smell of newly washed hair and seeing them wide-eyed and full of wonder; I miss the giggling and the messy rooms, their friends, the music and the endless creation of snacks and meals.

I miss the online life I built to fit around my family, my regular Coaching Moments column, and the thriving blogging community that I lost during my long periods offline, putting family first.

I’ve spent years tinkering with my blog, recalibrating, changing the tagline and creating new themes. I call it blog-gardening – the pruning, weeding, rearranging, cultivating, propagating and planting that most of us do in our websites and blogs. In some ways, it’s a yearning for home, a craving for simplicity, for clarity of purpose, clear communication, connection and creative renewal.

Yesterday, I had a blinding flash of inspiration, an idea for a new domain name that expresses who I am now and how I live my life. It was one of my favourite Greek words, a one-word domain that thrilled me like a homecoming when I thought of it. I rushed to check its availability and found it had been taken a few weeks ago. Just weeks ago. Like a blind date that had waited hopefully and patiently for years, then, on hearing the universe whisper “I don’t think she’s coming…” had walked off happily with someone else, just as I’d turned the corner. I felt sudden and inexplicable hiraeth.

The feeling got worse as I switched on the TV news, and saw yet more images of Greece struggling to help and feed hundreds of thousands of refugees whose communities and loved ones have gone, who are carrying home in a backpack and in the terrified eyes of their children. I see displaced and devastated families desperate to make new homes, fighting for what so many of us take for granted: food, shelter, safety…

The intensity of hiraeth connects me with every human on the planet who has ever loved and lost or longed for home. I feel immense gratitude for every moment I breathe, for all that I have and all that I am, for having loved and been loved enough to feel loss, but there are times when that gratitude brings little joy, only survivors’ guilt, empathy exhaustion and a longing to rest for a while, to refuel my soul for my own journey home.

Lots of coaches I know are empaths, deeply sensitive and intuitive people who were called to coaching as a way to heal themselves and the world. We have a new IAC website now; let’s make it a spiritual, online home, a place where coaches from all over the world can gather for mutual support, inspiration and a sense of belonging.



Janice Hunter IAC-MMC lives in Scotland and created the ‘Coaching Moments’ column to share her journey towards  – and beyond – IAC certification. Her free 83-page compilation ebook, ‘Coaching Moments: A Collection of Articles about Coaching in Everyday Life‘ can be downloaded from her site,

She also created and co-wrote Sharing the Certification Journey: Six IAC Coaches Talk About Their Journeys, which is an IAC Members’ benefit.

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