Moving and Downsizing: A Grieving Process

We know how to deal with the logistics and physical tasks of moving and downsizing. Post-it notes identifying what to keep, trash or donate. Hiring a reliable mover and maybe even a packing company to help you pack and unpack, preventing you from living the following weeks out of cardboard boxes. Many people may think that this is the hard part. It’s the easiest.

When it’s the home you spent raising your family in for the last 30 years, how can you fathom getting rid of your precious dining room table that’s been passed down for generations? Or the basement full of “stuff” that you’ve been meaning to get to for the last few years? The tough part of moving is not letting go of the actual items, it’s what they represent, the memories, the family dinners. How do people get rid of all that and not feel guilty? Some people never move because of it. They limit their life emotionally chained to items that eventually they will have to let go. We must respect that this is a grieving process. Allowing ourselves the space to understand that breaking these emotional chains free us to relish in the experience and the memories that they’re associated with.

Pastor Jack, Chaplain at PPh, and I recently spoke about this and he has experienced it himself. After having to leave Kansas City in the middle of the real estate bubble, he had to move his family across the country into a much smaller space. There was a loss of freedom (referring to space). He found himself with a lot of unpacked boxes most of them labeled memorabilia and picture frames. Many of our residents struggle with this too. He recommends we acknowledge the move. Whether you are moving yourself or helping a loved one, you must dedicate the time and energy to facing the emotional aspects of this event, not just the physical. You may find fulfillment through letting go.
And remember that where ever you are, your memories are there with you.