We often need words to describe our experiences and our emotions. And as our circumstances change, as our environments or our responses to our perceived environments change, we need new words. Solastalgia is one of those new words, coined to describe a new feeling in response to a new reality.
In 2007, Glenn Albrecht wrote that "[a]s opposed to nostalgia--the melancholia or homesickness experienced by individuals when separated from a loved home--solastalgia is the distress that is produced by environmental change impacting on people while they are directly connected to their home environment." He went on to describe the process of coining this term:
Solastalgia has its origins in the concepts of ‘solace’ and ‘desolation’. Solace is derived from solari and solacium, with meanings connected to the alleviation of distress or to the provision of comfort or consolation in the face of distressing events. Desolation has its origins in solus and desolare with meanings connected to abandonment and loneliness. As indicated above, algia means pain, suffering or sickness. In addition, the concept has been constructed such that it has a ghost reference or structural similarity to nostalgia so that a place reference is imbedded. Hence, literally, solastalgia is the pain or sickness caused by the loss or lack of solace and the sense of isolation connected to the present state of one’s home and territory.
It's a good word, I think--useful in helpng us to identify this new feeling inside many of us, that we are not at home in our home environments. These environments have changed, are rendered unfamiliar, and in some profound way, inhospitable--not because they are forbidding but simply because they are deeply different from our expectations.