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The Case for Moving After a Tragic Loss

After the loss of a close loved one—in particular, a spouse, child, or parent—your entire world is different. The home you shared that once brought you joy is suddenly an echo chamber of memories that make it harder for you to move on. Or maybe it’s on a much larger scale than that. Maybe the town where you built a life together suddenly doesn’t feel like home anymore.

It’s a good idea to wait until there’s been an appropriate amount of time after the loss to make any major decisions like selling your house or moving to a new city. Remember that moving is not a simple decision. It takes loads of planning plus the funds to see it through. You may have to find a new job on top of a place to live and resources such as medical care, and rebuild your entire support system and social circle. That’s why the decision to relocate cannot be made lightly—you must take time. Waiting at least six months to a year is a safe way to ensure you are not making an illogical and rash choice while your decision-making capabilities are clouded by grief.

If you’ve waited a fair amount of time, have the resources to make it happen, and finally decide that moving is the right choice for you, take the process slowly and carefully. Doing so will help reduce the amount of moving-related stress you experience. As you are still likely grieving, you want to reduce anxieties so you can focus on the positive aspects of this major life change.

Going Through Your Belongings

If you are going to move, you don’t want to haul a bunch of unnecessary things with you, especially if you’re moving into a smaller home. As tempting as it is to hold on to as many of your deceased loved one’s belongings as you can, it’s healthier to let many of them go. You can still keep some special mementos and items, of course. Here are some tips for going through your loved one’s belongings: 

  • Set a definite amount of space that will hold the things you intend to keep.

  • Create a time frame in which you must start and complete your cleaning.

  • If it’s not immediately useful or of important sentimental value, it goes.

  • Clearly label the bags and boxes you plan to donate to make sure you don’t mix up items.

  • Choose to donate to nonprofits and charities that meant something to your loved one.

Finding Your New Place

If you are looking for a new home to live in, you may be tempted to find something that is basically the same, simply relocated. While there is nothing wrong with seeking comfort in the familiar, remember that you are choosing to leave the familiar for a reason. What worked for your old life may not be best for this new chapter. Maybe you should look for somewhere smaller, or perhaps you’d be better off renting than paying for insurance and taxes on a new house. Before making any concrete decisions about where you want live or what kind of home you want to live in, ask yourself:

  • Do I need or even want as much space as I used to have?

  • Would I benefit from living closer to particular amenities or attractions? What kind of properties exist in that area?

  • What can I afford? How much time and money do I want to put into upkeep of a property?

  • Do I want extra rooms or space for company?

  • What do I see my new life looking like?

Moving Day Essentials

If you want moving to be as stress free as possible, you need the help of experienced professional movers. Not only will they be able to help you organize and pack your belongings safely, but they also do the heavy lifting for you. Remember that grief actually weakens the body and immune system. You have to ensure your health and safety by getting help when you need it, especially in risky scenarios like moving.

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Moving after a major loss is not a choice to be made lightly, but for many, it is the right choice. When getting rid of a loved one’s belongings, place boundaries for yourself and don’t keep more than you need. If you look for a new place, consider the changes you want to see in your new life post-loss. Finally, hire professionals to help you move during this time when your body is most vulnerable.

Lucille Rosetti

lucy@thebereaved.org │The Bereaved

Image via Pixabay

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