A house is much more than bricks and mortar. It’s your sanctuary at the end of a busy day, a place to raise children and connect with loved ones. So it’s understandable that leaving yours behind can be an emotional experience. “Even when you’re moving for positive reasons – a better job, a better house, better schools – moving is a major grief event,” explained life-change expert Russell Friedman. Saying goodbye isn’t easy, but these strategies can give you the closure you need before you move.
Make Your Mark
Many people grieve leaving their house because they hate the thought of it going on without them. Making your mark in your home can be a way to alleviate these feelings.
There are many different ways that you might make your mark. You could carve your initials in a tree, leave your handprints in some wet cement, or write a message in an unobtrusive spot like a door jam or underneath a shelf. If you don’t want to physically mar your home, you could consider creating a time capsule with family mementos and burying it in the backyard for the new owners to find later.
Whatever you decide, making your mark can give you some peace before your goodbye, and remembering that there’s still a piece of you at your old house can give you comfort when you’ve gone.
Spend time taking some photographs to help you remember your old home. Make sure you photograph all of the spaces that are special to you, such as your bedroom and the place in your patio area where you like to read. You might also like to extend the project and snap photographs of special places in your neighbourhood, like your children’s favourite playground or your old primary school.
These images deserve to have a life outside your camera, so remember to print the photos out and put them in a special album or scrapbook. Add captions to the photographs so that you remember why the shots are significant decades down the track. You’ll get real pleasure from thumbing through them any time you’re feeling nostalgic. The ritual of taking photographs before your departure will also help prepare you for goodbye.
Take Something With You When You Go
Photos of your old home aren’t the only things you can take with you when you leave. Look around you and you’ll see plenty of potential keepsakes.
If you have a green thumb, taking a favourite flower or small shrub to replant in your new home is a great idea. Perhaps you’ve always admired the light fixture in your bedroom, or the drawer handles in the kitchen. Unless you’re a renter, you can feel free to take these items and replace them with new ones you’re less attached to.
Have a House Cooling Party
We’ve all heard of a housewarming party, but house cooling parties are the latest trend. This party occurs before the move, and it’s a great way to say goodbye to your old home. People with a personal connection to your house should be in attendance, including all your immediate family and long-term friends. Remember to invite neighbours you know well and other local friends, as you may lose touch with them when you move away.
Encourage everyone to share their favourite memories they’ve made in the house. After this, you could make a toast to your old house and wish its new owners all the happiness you’ve enjoyed there.
As well as an opportunity to share memories about your house, a house cooling party is also a chance to enjoy one final meal together in your home with your friends and family. This meal doesn’t have to be too fancy. Preparing a three-course feast is likely to add extra stress at an already busy time. Instead, consider asking your guests to bring along a plate, ordering pizzas, bringing in caterers, or having a barbecue.
Write a Letter to the New Owners
American academic William J Farrell once wrote, “The power of writing rests in its ability to achieve closure.” That’s why writing a letter to the new owners of your home can be a powerful way to say goodbye to your home and prepare for the next chapter of your life.
This shouldn’t be a long letter. Your new owners will want to make their own memories in your own home, so they won’t want to know your life story. Some simple comments sharing that you’ve loved raising a family in your home and that you hope they enjoy living there as much as you have will suffice.
This writing exercise will remind you that while you aren’t there to love your house, someone else will be. That thought can be a great comfort to people saying goodbye to a beloved home.
Leaving your home isn’t easy, but these techniques will help you say goodbye before you move house.