I’ve helped a lot of people find a new home, and they all had two things in common.
One: They had to leave one home to move into another.
Two: It always involved a process of letting go.
Every single time.
It didn’t matter if it was a twenty year old moving out for the first time or whether it was a seventy year old widow downsizing her way into a condo.
Whether what they left behind was happy memories or sad ones, whether the move was for happy reasons (like a growing family) or sad reasons (like divorce), it always required the process of letting go.
I remember when I left my rental house to move in with my new husband. I was thrilled to marry him and excited to begin our new life together. It was a happy time! Still, it was difficult to leave the house I was renting. I had to say goodbye. To the place where God had healed me from so much heartache. To the spot in the back yard where I had sat around a fire by myself and worked through some stuff. To the place where I’d rediscovered my independence. Self-worth. Sole possession of the remote control. All good things, but it still was something I had to let go.
And letting go is difficult. Even if it’s for good reasons.
Imagine how hard it is then, when the letting go is for negative reasons.
Divorce. Illness. Death. Bankruptcy.
I’ve walked with a lot of people through that pain, and let me tell you, it’s a jungle out there. This is a painful process.
But there is something we can do, even in those difficult circumstances, to minimize the heartache of that process.
How One Client Made the Letting-Go Process Easier on Themselves
One mature woman had called me up. Her husband had passed away and she wanted to sell the country homestead and move to town.
Now, standard advice is not to make any major decisions in the first year after a spouse’s death. But this woman was not being impulsive. Rather, she was following a plan she and her husband had discussed during his battle with cancer. They knew the end would come, so they’d had the tough conversations and made a plan.
“This is really quick,” I’d said to her at some point during the process.
“Yes, I know,” she’d said, “but my husband and I talked about it. We both knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain the house and yard. It just made sense that I would move to town afterward.”
She said it like she was ordering lunch. Not with indifference, but with familiarity. It wasn’t an emotional, tear-jerking conversation. She’d been down that road already, and what was left was simply facts.
I was amazed by the wisdom of this couple. They did themselves (and their family) a massive favor by discussing and planning ahead of time. It freed them to go through the process in their own time and without the anger, guilt, and sorrow that happen when one is left to suddenly make all these decisions in an emotionally intense time.
She didn’t have to feel guilty about leaving their homestead behind. They’d talked about it.
She could go through their possessions without feeling guilt. Their conversation had freed her from that. And her freedom, I noticed, seemed to help the children have freedom too, as they helped her go through her belongings.
All that freedom came from doing one thing so many of us fail to do: communicate.
So here’s the challenge:
Have the difficult conversation about what the plan is after you or your spouse dies.
Even if neither of you is terminally ill or over eighty, you’ll be glad you did.
There’s peace of mind in knowing that your spouse will feel free to make decisions about your possessions after you’re gone. They’ll be free of guilt and anger, and better able to go through that already-difficult process of letting go.