“Giving up your country is not easy. Give up home, good weather, food, friends, and of course, family. It means abandoning all our customs, flavors, language, even the smells that we are used to since childhood. We leave our comfort zone to face a new environment to which everyone will have to adapt in their own way, in more or less time (…) The situations that migrants have to face will put their emotional balance to the test, they will have to begin a process of adaptation that involves several stages: excitement, fear, sadness and resilience. ”
Those are the words with which the trailer for the documentary “Entre Dos Tierras” begins, which narrates the emotional consequences inherent in the migration process. It is what is known as migratory grief. Unlike the pain over the loss of a loved one, migratory grief is a human process that involves internalizing and accepting a series of losses that are common to anyone who emigrates. It is not the loss of someone who no longer exists that afflicts, but the pain of separation from the country of origin, which is still there, in case the emigrants decide to return.
It is the first time that there is an audiovisual document that relates this phenomenon, which is not new, but which, in this case, is applied to a very specific migratory movement. Migration grief is inherent in any type of migration, but the documentary team was clear that they wanted to show a very specific profile.
“We wanted to base ourselves on a contemporary migration,” explains Javier Moreno, its director. “In all those people who have come to the UK between 2010 and 2015, even more. Why? Because this migration has very particular characteristics that are not mentioned anywhere (…). We discovered that there was no audiovisual document that spoke of the contemporary migratory process of millennials who, for different reasons, no longer even have to be the economic crisis, we have decided to leave our country, and we are still outside, ”explains Moreno.
The idea for the documentary began to be forged in early 2017, after its director read an article written by the psychologist Celia Arroyo, specialized in migratory grief
“He was talking about valuing things in our culture that we didn’t value before. In my case, flamenco too. But I went one step further and enrolled in a flamenco dance course. I needed to reconnect with my culture, and something that in Spain possibly I would never have done, because here I had the need, ”says Moreno. “That article was key, something touched on me, to decide to get into this documentary adventure and reflect everything 100%.”
The migratory duel
Why is migratory grief so different from other types of grief? Joseba Achotegui, Psychiatrist of the Service of Psychopathological and Psychosocial Attention to Immigrants and Refugees (SAPPIR) and professor at the University of Barcelona, explains that migratory grief has three main characteristics: It is a partial mourning because, unlike mourning the loss of someone, the object of loss, in this case, the country of birth, has not disappeared. It is possible to reconnect with the country and return one day.
It is also a recurring grief, because it comes back to our memory each time our senses capture something that connects with our country: listening to a flamenco song, going to a Spanish restaurant, talking to your mother or seeing the whole family together celebrating a birthday . Finally, it is a multiple grief, because it affects seven different areas: friends and family, language, culture, land, social status, contact with the ethnic group and risks to physical integrity.
Rocío Bello, who is a dentist and has been living in the United Kingdom for seven years, relates, during a group session that was held for the recording, that “you always live with a feeling of guilt, like I have left them there. I lost my mother when I was seventeen. Then there are my father and my sister, the two of them there alone. My sister still lives at home because she is younger, but at some point she will have to leave. So it’s like I’ve given up that responsibility. If something happens to my father, my sister is the first to be there. They also choose if something happens, they don’t tell me either so as not to worry me. This testimony is an example of the manifestation of migratory grief for the family.
However, Bello is not the only one who suffers for her family. “Being without family and friends is very difficult. It is very difficult because you want to share not only the bad moments but also the good ones. It makes me very sad every time I go to Spain to see my family, especially my parents who are getting older. And I am afraid that one day they will call me on the phone and tell me that they are not there ”, recognizes during her testimony Ana Belén Fajardo, another of the participants.
Others, younger, recognize that they have lost that notion that differentiates their country of origin and their host country. They no longer feel that their home is Spain, but neither do they associate the country they are in as their home. “When I got to my mother’s house it was like ‘I don’t feel at home anymore, I’m already uncomfortable.’ I feel like my home is London. For me, the ‘I have to go home’ is I have to go back to another country ‘”, admits José Royo, who, at the time of recording, had been living in London for seven years. “So, I would come here, after those first few times, and it was like ‘I’m not comfortable here either, it’s not my home either’ (…) Where am I from? If when I am there I am not comfortable, and when I come here I am not comfortable either. It’s a bit of a weird feeling of not having a home, of feeling away from home, wherever you are … “.
When you live in another country, the simplest things are magnified. You are unable to buy a sofa for fear that it means that you are establishing yourself in a country, in which, in reality, you do not want to stay. As Moreno himself acknowledges, “I didn’t have TV until a couple of years ago because I kept thinking why, because how was I going to come back?” Or the story of Adriana Páramo, producer of the documentary who also tells how relieved she felt when her relationship with someone from Belgium ended. “We both wanted to go back to our respective countries and that conversation was a bit taboo. And it is true that when my relationship ended, in that sense, I felt super relieved. Because I felt free to say ‘I can go back to Spain whenever I want’. I knew that if I had a partner who was not Spanish, coming back is already very difficult ”reflects Adriana.
As Moreno points out, the documentary is not only a way of making this grieving process known to emigrants but also to friends and family who, perhaps, do not understand all the implications of emigrating to another country. “People who stay, family, friends, have to understand that we sometimes need time and an understanding that we don’t have. We lack a bit of empathy, especially from the people who have stayed in the country ”, he highlights.