When you move to a new country, much of what you base your decision to stay on is centred around happy times and successes. Greeks can be overbearing in their emotions but the pleasant side effect of this is that they celebrate your joys with all their hearts.
They are obsessed with their families which means someone is always nearby when you need them. They adore their friends to the point of inviting them on your holidays, without asking you, but this adoration means that when life becomes unbearable, the friends appear at your side to adore you right back, to lift you from the ground where you have fallen in your sorrow.
I have had the good fortune of experiencing many of the great milestones of Greek life - births, marriages, baptisms. Last week, I had the misfortune of going to my first Greek funeral and in its own strange way, nothing has made me more determined to live in Greece.
I can count on one hand the funerals I've been to in my life, and I have never been to a funeral on my own, without being an extension of my family. I am a coward, and I tend to run from funerals. Last week, I had to draw on a strength I knew deep inside me I didn't have and escort one of my dearest friends to the funeral of her husband, one of Mr Zeus's childhood friends.
In some ways the reality of that day has still not sunk in - the rain falling on us, the grief, the coffin, the feeling that this had to be a joke and any minute now he'd pop out from somewhere, my friend screaming and shaking in my arms, my arms that I had offered to remain by her side as a replacement for her family that had not arrived, who I cannot forgive for not being there.
Like me, she is a foreigner, and that same affinity I felt for her when we first met - two women who left it all behind to be with our men - is what kept me at her side, despite the feeling that I was not strong enough, that I couldn't do this, that Mr Zeus better turn up sometime now because I can't do this.
But I did it. We all did, and we all did it together. We all walked our friend to his final journey, smothering him in flowers, though I didn't have the heart to look. We wept together, and we even joked together. Later, the mourners were offered coffee and cognac and I shook hands with mourners on behalf of my dear friend's absent family as they wished us in Greek "Life to us, life to you."
That night we threw an impromptu heavy metal party where we drank some more, laughed some more and cried some more. "The next time I see him," I said "I'm going to force him to watch Bollywood movies because I never drink coffee and I never listen to heavy metal and I did both for him today!"
In Greece, when you tell them your bad news, they don't look away and mumble an apology. They don't shrink away from your sadness like it's a bad smell, like your misfortune might rub off onto them. They embrace you, look you in the eye and tell you that life is such and we must go on living it. When you start to cry, they don't pat you on the shoulder and tell you to pull yourself together. They stroke your hair, tell you to cry and let it all out.
48 hours later I found myself back in London for a week. I haven't had the luxury to cry as much as I need to clean my soul, to try and get to grips in my head the image of our friend's coffin, the feeling of my friend writhing on the ground in her misery. I had to be strong, but now I want to rest my head on someone's shoulder and let them let me cry to my heart's content.
But I'm in the wrong country, and when the tears began to fall last night, they made those around my uncomfortable. Their discomfort was so tangible I began to cry even more. I was told to pull it together, don't be sad.
This week, I don't want to be in London. I don't want to even be in my family home. I feel alone, miserable and tired. I just want to cry once, one good cry without anyone trying to stop me, and then things will feel better.
This is why they have therapists in Western Europe. We don't need them in Greece.
Life to us.
Use Hotmail to send and receive mail from your different email accounts. Find out how.