There is a grieving process that can accompany selling your home. A home contains so many memories; making lasagna for your future spouse on that second date, or perhaps your first place together – maybe the home where your children were born, or toddled. Reminders in every room of an adored pet sprawled before the fire place, the doorway where the kids heights were marked on the wall, or the guest room where grandma stayed when she visited her grandchildren. So many special moments are associated with where we live and the items that surround us.
How can you let go? Remember, record, acknowledge and look forward to the next step.
Remember & record.
It is usually the memories, not the building that is so special. So take those memories with you. Go through the house with a notepad and write down or record your strongest memories. Sound recorders are available on phone apps these days and can help you capture your thoughts relatively easily. Don’t forget to walk the yard and the garage, maybe look up and down the street and remember the neighbors, childhood friends or block parties that took place there.
Then take some photos or video. These don’t have to be “proper” photos. Snap a shot of where your three-year-old used crayon on the wall and can still be seen below the new paint. Or the red floral wallpaper you have been intending to change – for the last 25 years. Record your memories of the dinner table where you sat as a family, special objects, furniture or artwork, the photos on the frig door, your favorite view, your funny neighbor.
Keep the memories. Let go of things.
Some creative ways to pass items on:
One of my clients, wrote her memories of and item on sticky notes along with the name of the person she wanted to give it to. The recipient was touched to share the item and the memories that went with it. A condominium owner set up a mini-sale during her home owners meeting and brought pictures and prices of items she wanted to sell or pass on.
When one of my clients was preparing to downsize to a petite condo in Hawaii, she gathered her adult children and gave them packets of uniquely colored sticky dots. Each of the siblings got to start in a different part of the house and took turns marking the items that were important to them. When the movers came they sorted the items by the color of the dots.
Acknowledge your feelings.
Acknowledge that transitions can be difficult. Talk about it. Surround yourself with people who appreciate what an important step this is for you, friends can assist or listen but your may need to allow for the people who don’t understand and hope they “get it” some day.
A client who had her first child while living in a one-bedroom condo (the nursery was part of the walk-in closet) was expanding into a two-bedroom home. Without her knowledge, her close friends came and took photos of her condo and gave her a photo memory book when she moved out. They understood that she was both joyous and nostalgic for that tiny home and acknowledged what a big transition it was for her and her child.
Look forward to the next step.
Next steps can be joyful and those are fun to think about. Focus on the positive! Like not having to clean your gutters if you are headed to a condo or assisted living facility. Or having a larger yard for your pets to roam or to garden. Maybe you are getting a house closer to your work and can look forward to the time gained from a shorter commute. Or finally having the separate mother-in-law apartment for your relations who visit from Canada for three weeks at a time.
Sometimes the next steps can be harder, as in the case of job loss, death, poor health or divorce. Even in these circumstances remembering and recording those good memories can be important and can help you get through that next step.
Don’t rush if you don’t have to. If there isn’t a hard deadline take your time. If you are being pressured by your agent or family, ask why? Is it important that the house goes on the market during a certain time of year for a better chance of selling? Is your family concerned about you living at home on your own? These are important things to consider but are just one piece of the puzzle. Ask for options, set your own timeline, take your time if you can.
Ask for help, after death or divorce so many friends and family want to help but don’t know what to do, put them to work. They can help pack, sort and distribute donations. They can help document, record, and capture your memories and at the same time be someone to share those memories with you.
Focus on the next chapter and the next place you are going to live as a positive step in the next section of your life. Ask yourself, what are the benefits of selling? What does the sale help you to do? Will there be less house to clean and maintain, smaller bills with less worry? Whatever it is think about the positive attributes of selling the home and focus on that.
Work with an experienced real estate agent who understands the emotional aspects of change, can offer support and suggestions and can handle the business end of the process so you don’t have to.