Bidding Farewell to Your Home
Completion is letting go of the way things used to be
- knowing they are not gone.
As part of the preparation work for your upcoming move, I suggest that you think about how you might want to say good-bye and bring closure to leaving your current home. You may not feel that this is a high priority in the midst of everything else you must do related to your move, but IT IS IMPORTANT. If this has been your home for 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 or even 5 years, it has become a part of your life and memories. Bringing some level of closure with your current home and allowing yourself time to grieve this loss is an essential part of the transition process. Treat endings with as much importance as beginnings and use this opportunity to say good-bye so you don’t have regrets about this later.
Make plans for bringing closure with your current home.
There are several ways you can do this. One is by recalling your favorite memories of this home. You might even want to think about your favorite memories on a room-by-room basis. You can do this alone or with family or friends. Tears may come with this process, but that’s okay – leaving a place you have called “home” can be very emotional. And don’t hesitate to repeat this as many times as needed. This was the ritual I used and repeated several times when I made my last move even though I was leaving a home I had lived in for only four years. It was important for me to do this (and to shed some tears) because I had put so much of myself into making this house my home and because the years in this house marked a major transition period in my own life. And it really did help me to fully let go and move on when the time came.
Another idea is to plan a way to include family and/or friends in some kind of home celebration party. This idea is especially fitting if you have lived in your current home for many years, or if this is the house where you raised your family. Ask each person invited to come prepared with a story or favorite memory of your home. You may even want to ask them to write down their stories or memories so you can savor these again later after your move. Make this a festive occasion, maybe invite your family for a special dinner or plan this around one of the last major holidays to be celebrated in your home. After sharing food and drink together, ask each person to tell their memory or story. Don’t forget to include several of your own favorite recollections as well.
You might also want to host a neighborhood party if you have friends and shared memories among this group of people. Have everyone bring a dish for a potluck meal together, or make it simple and limit the food to dessert or appetizers and drinks. Share favorite memories of living together in your neighborhood and make sure everyone leaves with your new address and phone number so they can stay in touch after your move.
Create a memory book for your home.
Another idea you might want to consider is creating a memory book for your home. This would be a wonderful project to do with one of your children or grandchildren. Take current pictures of your home on the inside and outside. Also, pick out old photos of your home during the photo sorting process – pictures of the physical parts of your house as well as those that depict some of your favorite memories from your years living here. Once you have the new photos and the old pictures selected, compile these into a small memory book album. You will have this book to look through if you become homesick during the adjustment phase in your new home – or just as a fun way to remember your current home and your good memories.
Consider those who will benefit from the home you are passing on.
It may be hard when you’re leaving a long-time residence to consider the value of what you are passing on to the new owner but this passing on is often the wonderful result of this process. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to go back and visit the home where I grew up – the home my parents lived in for 34 years until they made their own later life move – and to see HOW MUCH the young family who bought my parents’ house is enjoying it. The new owners are a couple with three children who LOVE their new home! They have done some wonderful remodeling and the house and yard look fully lived in again like it did when I was a child growing up there. It was such a wonderful yard and space to play in and it warms my heart to know that this young family is enjoying it as much as we did. And best of all, my parents have absolutely no regrets about selling their house to them and moving forward with their lives.
For those of you who have been in a home for a long time and who live in neighborhoods where many of the older houses are being torn down or totally remodeled, it may be harder to think of letting go because of your fear that your current home will disappear in one form or another once you sell it. In your case, you need to remember that you had the wonderful gift of living in this home you created and in this location for many years. Once you decide to pass your home on to new owners, please accept that they do have a right to a totally different picture of what they want their own dream home to be. And even if your home as you know it now no longer exists, the new owners are still receiving the benefit of the wonderful lot and location you selected, or the wonderful neighborhood you chose for yourself and your family many years ago.
Realize that you can create a new home for yourself.
Last but not least, fully realize that you can create a new home for yourself anywhere you live. I experienced this for the first time after my parents’ move in 1996 when the family home that I grew up in was empty and ready for transfer to the new owner. This place I had called “home” for so many years was truly back to being JUST A HOUSE. I realized at that moment that my family “home” connection really resided with my parents and would so – wherever they are living and for as long as they are alive. I also experienced this during my last move. I remember that as the house got further and further dismantled during the packing process, I saw that this home I loved was turning back into just a house again. What made it home for me were all the personal touches that I added. Once those things came down, it was just an empty wall or an empty room. This helped me to see clearly that I was taking my home with me. You are taking your true home with you, too, and can create it again wherever you are living.
Sue Ronnenkamp is a nationally recognized expert in the area of later life living transitions. After 10 years of refining the “how to” of right-sizing/downsizing, Sue has shifted her focus to WHY continuing to move forward in all areas of our lives is key to vital and successful aging. Her new business is called Age-Full Living with its primary focus on embracing changing with our aging, living later life to the fullest, and reaping the gifts and blessings of growing older. For more information, visit Sue’s website at www.AgeFullLiving.com.