Gary Scheer, RFC®, CSA

A Change of Scenery: Benefits of Moving after Losing a Loved One

A Special Guest Post By: Lucille Rosetti from thebereved.org. If you or someone you love is grieving I highly recommend checking out the Lucille's website and books she's written on grief related matters. Healing can be a long process but you don't have to do it alone when you have the tools that Lucille offers. 


   grief, loss, depression, woman crying

Seeking a change of scenery can seem like an obvious decision when a loved one dies. The aftermath of such a loss may be so profoundly painful that there may seem to be no other option - and it may indeed be the right decision for you. However, most grief counselors advise that it’s best not to jump into anything right away, and that everyone needs time to grieve and process the experience before making such a momentous decision. Grief is, after all, a process during which thoughts and emotions may change radically over time. Some counsel that you should put off deciding whether to move for at least six months after a loved one’s passing, assuming that you’ll be less emotionally vulnerable at that point and better equipped to think objectively.

During this interlude, it’s important to seek out the advice of those closest to you, people who understand the strength of your relationship with the deceased and the weight and emotional cost of the move you’re contemplating. Most importantly, bear in mind that there’s no moving away from grief. If you choose to seek a fresh start somewhere else, you’ll still need to deal with the psychological ramifications of your decision and the ongoing hurt you’ll feel.

Renewed possibilities

Remember, you need time to grieve, but you also need to move on with life after losing a spouse and the powerful emotional bond you both shared. A change of scenery won’t wash away the pain you’re feeling, but it can help you envision the promise and possibilities of a life beyond loss. As hard as it can be to turn away from a house that’s rich in precious memories, it can help you focus on the future and keep you from overindulging in grief.

Downsizing

Moving gives you the chance to downsize and declutter, to simplify your life by getting rid of objects you no longer need. For some, downsizing may be the only option if their spouse was the primary earner. For others, the process of downsizing is a therapeutic endeavor, a purging of grief and symbolically opening the way to a fresh start. Decluttering your life can have a powerfully healing effect on bereaved individuals who may find it a way to process and make sense of their past life. It’s also a good way to rebuild confidence in your strength by making difficult, emotional decisions.

Making tough decisions

Don’t be surprised if it takes months before you’re able to face downsizing and deciding what you should get rid of. Don’t hide from your feelings as you go through this process. Think about what memories are associated with each piece, and embrace the emotions that go with those memories. One good way to dispense with your loved one’s belongings is to give some away as gifts to people who were particularly close to your spouse, and as a way of honoring the loved one you have lost. If your spouse or relative had a favorite charity, consider making a major donation in his or her name.          

Selling and buying

Selling your home of many years and moving into a new house is a lot for any one person to handle. You’ll want to research homes in your area in your price range. During this difficult time, lean heavily on your real estate agent. If you don’t have an agent, seek out someone who’s trusted by a family member. Once you’ve decided to move, consider the benefits of hiring professional movers to pack and move your belongings. Be sure to do your research in advance. You can compare prices, read reviews and book help online.  It removes some of the stress from what’s sure to be an emotionally wrenching experience, and frees you from having to find people to help you move heavy boxes and furniture.

Deciding whether to move after the death of your spouse may be the hardest decision you’ll ever make. It’s agonizing to leave behind the memories and a home you shared with your spouse for decades. Once you’ve gained the clarity and perspective necessary to make the right decision for you, you may find that a change of scenery is just what you need to move forward with optimism and confidence.