This post is all about grief when moving to a new place.
Moving is always a painful experience. Even if you’re choosing to move, whether you’re moving closer to family, for higher pay, to get lower interest rates, or to live with your partner, it still hurts.
You have to adjust your life to a new location or, at the very least, a new home and the adjustment period comes with growing pains. You’re making a big change, and it will affect you.
Major life changes constantly disrupt our lives no matter how much we want or need them to happen. So, it’s okay to grieve your old home and everything that came with it. Here are seventeen steps to help you through that process.
This post is all about grief when moving to a new place.
GRIEF WHEN MOVING:
1. Remind yourself of the positive reasons why you’re moving
When you move, you’re opening yourself up to new opportunities. No matter what pain or negativity made you move or has come from the move, you still have the chance to make your new home feel like a home for you. Maybe you are moving because of a job loss and that hurts.
But, you can focus on the fact that you or your partner now have a new job, and that’s a reason to celebrate. Perhaps, you’re moving away from your hometown.
That’s brave and you’re capable of succeeding in a new place. Plus, you always have your support system in the form of family members and close friends.
2. Hire professional movers to avoid extra stress
If you can afford it, hire professional movers to help make the process go smoothly. It can be tricky and expensive to trust other people with your belongings, so only pursue this step if it feels right to you.
You can even find a moving company that will encourage you to pack your boxes and they’ll transport them whether it’s a cross-country move or a different country.
However, if moving is not adding stress to one of the most stressful life events you’ll experience, then feel free to do a DIY move and take care of the details on your own.
3. Imagine the new owners appreciating your old home
All of your fond memories of your old life are still your memories and they still have value. But, you’ve allowed someone else to make new memories in your home.
Just like someone has given you the chance to make memories in their old home, you’re giving someone the chance to appreciate your home the way you did. So, when you struggle to leave, think of all the potential buyers or the new owners and the gift you’ve given them.
In the same way that you’ve given the new owners of your old home a new opportunity, the old owners of your home have given you the same opportunity.
You get to build new experiences in a new environment and eventually move from this home, too. There’s nothing but potential ahead of you.
4. Hire a cleaning service before you move into your new home
No matter how new you are to your home, it’s a good idea to give it a deep clean. You can do this deep cleaning on your own or hire a cleaning service to come in. This way, you have a fresh start and a pristine home to make yours.
Once your home is fresh and clean, you can start focusing on the ways to make it yours through furniture, decoration, and improvements. Whether you rent or own, there are lots of ways to tweak your home until it feels like the home you’ve always wanted to live in.
5. Plan out the first special occasion you’ll host in your new home
The best way to make new memories in your new home is to celebrate in it. This can look like inviting new people over in your new location. But, if you haven’t met anyone in your town, then focus on how you can celebrate by yourself or with your partner.
You can decorate your new home, cook a dinner, or watch a movie with popcorn. The goal is to remind yourself of all of the new opportunities in this home and all of the memories you have yet to experience.
Keep in mind that you can start small, too, especially if you’ve moved into a smaller home because the small things always add up to the most fulfilling experiences.
6. Focus on the new house feel you get in your new home
Whenever you get sad or nostalgic, first of all, remind yourself these are normal feelings that result from a big change. Second of all, take a second to walk through your home or think back to the first time you walked through your new home.
Every house has that house feel that makes it yours. Whether it’s the layout, style, backyard, or history, there’s something about your house that makes it feel like it’s yours way before you live there.
You had the feeling with your last house and you’ll have it with your current home, too. So, remind yourself of that feeling when you’re starting to miss your old house a little too much.
7. Eliminate any negative, constant reminders
As you work through the grieving process, notice the moments you get triggered. In this case, that feeling can look like being activated or experiencing a sudden rush of painful emotions that makes you start reacting to the pain rather than the immediate situation.
For example, you might disagree with your partner on where you should put the dinner table. You start thinking about how perfect it looked in your last home and you get angry and lash out at your partner when they’ve effectively done nothing but share an innocuous opinion.
Anytime you notice yourself overreacting to a situation, this is a good indication that you’re reacting to something else you haven’t processed fully. This is totally normal and very human, but it does mean that you need to continue working through that.
When you find yourself activated by constant reminders around the house, brainstorm different ways to eliminate those reminders. This might look like changing out décor for a fresh look or rearranging furniture to completely avoid imitating where it was located in your old house.
8. Remember that a grief specialist can help you
Every step in this blog is designed to help you handle the symptoms of your relocation depression. Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid getting at the root of the symptoms by processing the big move, which is why this step is also included.
Your feelings are valid and it’s okay to need emotional support from a grief specialist. Whether you visit a mental health professional on your own, attend online counseling, or attend support groups, you don’t need to process these difficult feelings on your own.
More than that, you need to know these feelings are hard. They’re normal, but they’re hard and they hurt. So, you deserve to get the support you need to feel better.
9. Rely on your family members for extra support
Your family, chosen or related, want to support you. For most family members, no amount of distance is enough for them to stop supporting you and wanting to help you through your difficult time.
When you’re trying to make new friends, get accustomed to new surroundings, and be open to new experiences, you’ll need support from people who aren’t new to your life.
You need people who can tell you when you’re engaging in a familiar pattern of behavior, like scrolling through pictures of yourself with your old friends.
Or maybe you are looking at how beautifully decorated your old home was. The feelings that cause you to do these things are normal, but the actions are not useful to work through those feelings.
10. Get excited about the new memories you’ll create
The best part about memories is that you get to make new ones every day without erasing the significance of the memories you’ve already made.
You can appreciate the memories you created in your old home without getting bad feelings about the ones you have yet to make in your new home. There will never be a right time to start appreciating your new area.
So, let yourself grieve your old life while you learn how to live your new life. As scary as it is, you have a new start waiting for you and you deserve to experience the joy of a new job, new culture, and new friends while going through every part of the process of grieving.
11. Keep in mind you get a better job than you’ve ever had before
No doubt with a change of scenery, you have to change jobs unless you work remotely. You may have even moved as a result of a new job. This is the perfect time to learn about yourself, build a new social circle, and find out where you fit in this new workplace.
While you work through the pain of moving farther from the most important people in your life, use your lunch break to connect to people in a new way. Think of your new workplace as a brand new environment to find what fulfills you.
If you already love your work, use it as a tool to remind yourself that you can find joy in your new life. If you don’t already love your work, find the areas you like most and focus on getting joy from those areas.
You’ve already made the big decision to move and a bunch of other decisions about where to move, what to bring, and when to move. Now that you’re in a different place, give yourself enough time to get accustomed to it.
You’re experiencing a hard time even though you made the right decision, so give yourself time before you have to make any more decisions. Whether you’re in a new country, new city, or just a new town, you need to let yourself feel every part of the grieving process without rushing it.
It may not be linear, but it won’t happen under pressure. And no one wants to make major decisions while they’re going through tough times.
13. Think about all of the new relationships you’ll create in your new neighborhood
The last thing you want to be thinking about right now is all of the friendships you’ll make in your new place. It’s overwhelming and kind of feels like cheating when you think about making another best friend in your new neighborhood.
No one likes to feel the new kid, so maybe you’re stressed out about meeting new people and experiencing social anxiety because of it. Whatever your situation may be, you’ll meet some amazing people.
If you’re not up for it yet, then wait. But, the moment you’re ready to engage with your new neighbors, start with the simple act of inviting them over for a meal.
14. Pay special attention to your mental health
Anytime is a good time to pay attention to your mental health. Mental illness and mental health issues sneak up on everyone, especially when people insist they don’t need to look for signs of it.
This can look like excessive worry that won’t go away no matter what you do to disprove it and the belief that you’ll feel pain, sadness, and grief forever. If you notice either of these signs, contact a mental health professional for guidance and tools to work through those thoughts.
15. Let yourself experience and process the stages of grief
There’s no best way to get through grief. There’s no cheating the system or suppressing your emotions until they’re gone. The pain sucks, but it’s still there even if you don’t want to let it into your body.
So, once you’ve accepted that you have to grieve to feel the full joy of your new life, start processing your grief by noticing where it is in your body.
Maybe it tightens your chest or makes you cry. Let it happen in your body and sit with it. Work with it and let the tears fall or focus on your breathing to regulate your body back to the feelings you’re used to.
16. Maintain contact with your old friends
Answer phone calls from your loved ones. You may be in different houses and different cities, but they still want to be in your life and they likely know that you’re struggling.
Instead of thinking about the last time you saw them in person or how much work it is to talk to someone you miss, think about how much you laugh with them. Think about the smile on their face when they talk to you.
You deserve to experience all of these good things with someone who cares about you and wants to see you with the best mental health and physical health possible. They want to see you living your best life and being honest when you’re not so they can support you.
17. Accept that your conflicting feelings are normal
It’s impossible to avoid conflicting feelings. This is true almost all of the time, not just when you’re grieving and it feels the worst. While you do need to grieve and let that process take its time to heal and find a new normal, you also need to live your life.
Instead of focusing on where your favourite places were in your old city or missing your favorite grocery store because it had the best fresh cheeses, find new favorites. Go look for the joy you deserve in your life because you don’t know when or if your grieving process will end.