It dawned on me recently when I read an article that describes the 5 stages of mourning and grief typically experienced when we lose a loved one that these same feelings can be experienced when selling and moving from a long-term home.
I have been fortunate to help seniors and their families make the transition from the home where they have lived, loved and raised their families for decades to downsize into condominiums, senior apartments and senior communities. Your home represents so much more merely just the structure – it is about family, memories, neighbors, and what you have known for so many years.
The five stages of normal grief that were first proposed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying.”
The first reaction to any traumatic circumstance is to deny the reality of the situation as it relates to loss. With regard to the loss of one’s home, it is common for family members of the senior to observe this rejection of the reality of their situation. It is hard for the child of a senior to watch mom or dad resist and ignore what is happening around them.
It is so difficult when facing a home that was once the center of family gatherings falling to disrepair, with steps that can’t be navigated or does not provide the wide hallways and bathrooms outfitted with appropriate equipment for safety. This is difficult to accept for any of us, but at some point in all of our lives, change is a requirement to remain fully active and healthy.
How many of you have been so angry loved ones you are trying to help perceive your best intentions as an invasion of their privacy and intellect? When faced with a move that you know is right for you or a loved one, it’s understandable to feel a sense of bereavement and loss.
The need to control the situation is a normal reaction to a feeling of helplessness. We get into “scolding ourselves” - I should have gone to the doctor sooner; we should have purchased that ranch years ago and on and on. We make deals with our higher power to put off the inevitability of the situation. In the end, step 4 is the result.
We are now getting closer to step 5 and therefore can fall into a low point as we begin to worry about the process. It is in this stage that depression can lead to isolation. This is a time for families to talk about what is happening. It may entail a visit to the doctor as well as a family meeting.
This is a gift that not all of us will get to. Many may remain in one or all of the previous stages and may result in a crisis that involves immediate action and little planning. But for those who do reach this phase relating to a loss of one’s home, a peace and calm may follow.
Know that you are not alone
Understanding the grieving process as it relates to selling your long-time home will help lessen this process of moving from a home you love to a new situation that offers that same love and security that you have experienced over the years. “Know thyself” is the mantra. Understand we are all made of the same stuff and grief and mourning with the 5 stages discussed are expected. Acceptance comes sooner for some, but for others a bit of time and patience is needed.
In the end we all want what is best for our loved ones and ourselves.