Moving during a difficult time

As we all know, and most of us have experienced at least once, moving, at the best of times, is difficult. So, when you add the extra emotional stress of a major life change, such as a divorce, death or economic crisis, a move can be a breaking point.

The hard part is, many people have to move – as opposed to wanting to – because of the reasons above. Feeling that they don’t have a choice in their decision to move, many feel that their lives are spinning out of control.

If you’re in this situation, and a move is something you must do, then there are some tips to consider to help you through this extremely difficult time. And remember, you’re not just moving into a new home, you’re moving into a new life.

Take What You Need

After the death of my mother, I was at such a loss. With a house full of memories surrounding me, I didn’t know where to turn. All I knew was that I had to make some decisions.

Usually, when someone is moving, I suggest that they get rid of everything they haven’t used in the last year to minimize the amount of stuff they have to move. For people who are going through an emotional trauma as well as a move, I suggest the opposite.

When emotions are involved, our personal things tend to comfort us and make us feel more secure, especially when our lives feel like they are anything but secure. Take what you need to help you get through. If you’re having a hard time making a decision about whether to move something or not, move it and make the decision at a later time when you feel ready.

When it came time to sort through my mother’s clothes, I couldn’t do it. Each time I opened her closet, I cried for hours at a time. Finally, I asked a neighbor for help. She kindly folded my mother’s clothes into large containers that I then labeled and set aside. Those clothes moved with me across the country then down to California. I finally, when I was ready, went through them, piece by piece. I donated most of her clothes to local charities, keeping just a few sweaters that I know I’ll grow into one day.

Even though I was a very poor student at the time, I made the choice to do only what I could emotionally do. And even though it cost me more money to ship the extra containers, I’m glad that I did.

The last word on this is, do what you have to do to get through.

Try Not to Make Rash Decisions

My moving habits are pretty established by now, and it’s taken me a while to be able to step back and not make rash decisions based on how I might feel emotionally. While it’s good to listen to your feelings, throwing out the dishwasher because it was your ex-partner bought it for you for your anniversary, may not make the most economical sense…although, selling it might!

Before you throw out everything attached to a bad memory (the opposite of the first tip), step back and consider if it’s something you really can’t live with. If you can’t – you really can’t – get rid of it.

I only caution making decisions out of spite. Usually, those decisions end up being regretted. If, however, you can’t stand to look at something because it conjures up difficult emotions and you know you’d feel better if that object was out of your life, then by all means, sell it, donate it or junk it.

Ask for Help

Our pride can be such a hindrance sometimes, making us feel like we should be able to handle the situation on our own. As I’ve said before, moving is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do – moving into a new life, is even tougher. So, don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help. People around you often feel so helpless as they watch you struggle through that asking them to do something for you can not only help you, but can make them feel useful, too. Everyone wins!

So, if you need some tasks done, or you need help packing or sorting things (like the neighbor who kindly sorted my mother’s clothes) or you need a babysitter, ask your friends, family and neighbors.

If you’re having a hard time making a decision about the move or about the choices you’re about to make, talk it out with a friend or counselor – someone who has your best interest at heart. Professional help is always such a support during times like this; they can help clarify your situation and assist you in making some difficult decisions.

Be Good to Yourself

Starting a new life is emotionally and physically draining. Be good to yourself during this time. If you’re tired, sleep; if you’re wanting time alone, give it to yourself. Go get your hair styled or get a massage or take some time to watch a movie or two, even if you feel like there’s so much to do. By giving yourself what you need, you’re allowing yourself to heal.

Remember, you’re going to feel tired, exhausted and drained. That’s part of the process, so stop being hard on yourself, ask for help, and talk it out to someone. And above all, take a deep breath, hug your kids and know that your life will get better – it just takes time.

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