Moving on After Death
The death of a spouse, child, sibling, or parent is devastating. It takes a significant toll and creates an emotional burden that can continue to grow. Sometimes, a fresh start in a new home – and a new city – is the best way to move forward. But changing your entire life is not a decision to be made lightly. During this time, you may also decide it’s necessary to downsize and relocate to a smaller home. By doing so, you’ll have lower utility bills and fewer areas to clean, which could help out tremendously if you don’t have the time or energy to devote to maintaining a large house. Before you begin, take a look at the housing market and get an idea of what houses are going for these days; for example, homes in Sarasota, Florida, sell for approximately $273,000, though that number will fluctuate depending on your location.
One of the worst things you can do is pack up and leave if you aren’t sure that’s what you need. It is easy in the emotional aftermath of death to make decisions with knee-jerk reactions. This can lead to further regret and won’t make the situation any better. Be patient. You have already experienced a major life change and a traumatic event that will be with you the rest of your life.
Before making a major decision, take the time to decide if the move is what you really want. The Muse cautions against doing things because society thinks you’re “supposed to.” No one can tell you how to grieve, and if you try to placate everyone else without processing your emotions, you may do more harm than good.
If you have children living in the home, you may also want to reconsider the psychological effects of moving, especially when compounded with the loss of a parent or sibling. ScienceDirect reports that children who move from their family home may suffer from poor mental health, although there are other factors that also come into play.
Prioritize the Practical
Once you are certain that you need a new backdrop, you will need to get hands-on with the packing and moving process. Start by researching areas you’d like to live and determining if it fits into your budget. Also, remember that the move itself will cost a pretty penny; in-state moves cost around $2,300, while people heading out of state can expect to pay around $4,300. Money worries now will only add to your stress levels and can trigger health problems you simply don’t need during this time.
Cleaning out your home is another necessary step in the process, but one that can launch you into an emotional roller coaster. At some point, whether now or later, you will need to go through your loved one’s belongings and determine what items to keep and which to let go. If you aren’t ready to make these decisions just yet, rent a self-storage unit which, according to 180-day trends, should cost approximately $88.44 per month in the Sarasota area. As difficult as it is, you can donate your loved one’s personal items to local charities. The process of letting go may be especially cathartic if the charity is one that was near and dear to your loved one. In the case of an infant, there are numerous national organizations that accept gently-used clothing and nursery gear, and a few of those groups (like Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity) will pick up large furniture items, like cribs.
Don’t Do it Alone
When it’s time to move, let your closest friends and family know as soon as possible. Not only will they be able to lend a helping hand, but waiting until the last minute won’t give you all an opportunity to address the wide range of emotions that is sure to be felt. Liberty Mutual suggests you also create a “structured, room-by-room packing” plan for everyone to follow to make the process as seamless as possible for you and your helpers, which will also help cut down on your stress. If you and your loved ones simply can’t bear the thought of packing, consider giving yourselves a break and hiring professional movers. Thumbtack notes that the average hourly rate for these services nationally is about $250 to $350 per hour.
In addition to the support of friends and family, you can make the process go more smoothly by partnering with a realtor who can help you get your home in order and handle the practical and legal aspects of selling. Hire a licensed moving company, which Zillow recommends, especially if you’re relocating out of state.
Other persons to involve may include a home stager, housecleaner, and lawn maintenance professional. If you are still unsure in your decision, you may also wish to seek the services of a therapist or counselor to talk through your emotions. Even if you’ve waited for several months after the death, your mind may still be in “fight-or-flight” mode, and the decision may have been made more hastily than you’ve considered.
Remember, your new life is just that – yours and new. But you shouldn’t try to leave the past completely behind you. The memories you have of your loved one are something to be cherished. Don’t try to erase them completely, but avoid the temptation to dwell on the past. If a new home is what you need to move forward, you can still honor their memory while you continue to progress with your life.