They Are So Homesick

Jenni Ho-Huan
5 min readSep 30, 2023
an old man, a woman in a hijab and three small children huddle in a corner of a brick house
image from:

To appreciate what you have, one must at times lose it.

In South Korea, they have this service where you can encoffin yourself, and many find they get back up from the darkness more eager to live. Yes, coffin therapy.

This matter of life and death is a complicated one for us humans. We long to live, and at times we cannot wait to leave, completely. We imagine our presence and our pain to be massive, yet as one author found out, we can be quickly forgotten. In his case, he actually edited his Wiki post with a date of death. No one noticed.

While some entertain the idea of demise, there are millions of others who simply want to live. In our oh-so-modern world, we have more than a hundred million refugees worldwide. Each of them, from the youngest to the oldest, clinging to life. Some refugee camps will see generations grow up in such perverse conditions of deprivation. I shudder to think of the trauma our fellow humans go through.

Perhaps those who despair of life could trade places for a week with these. Perhaps not. Replacing one form of despair for another may not work, except for coffin therapy.

Another group that clings is the diaspora resulting from political instability and persecution. They move and sometimes live nomadic lives because to stay could mean their demise.

Recently the Facebook site Humans of New York ran fifty-four posts slowly detailing the feelings and thoughts of an old Iranian man for his nation. In post 38 he wrote (and it is translated):

“I could not find it anywhere. The Iran of Shahnameh. The Iran of Cyrus The Great. The Iran of Rumi, Hafez, Saadi, Khayyam. The Iran of our mothers and fathers. The Iran that I had loved since I was a little boy — it was no use to them. They didn’t care about our culture, our history, our ideals.

One day Khomeini gave a speech saying that nationalism was against Islam. He said that we should be a nation of Muslims, not a nation of Iranians. The Lion and the Sun were removed from our flag, two of the oldest symbols of Iran. They were replaced by Arabic writing. Our institutions were dismantled one-by-one until the only things left of the republic and constitution were their names. They became empty boxes that no one knew what was inside.