Here we discuss selling your house after the death of a loved one, or moving away from your own after a bereavement. Should we move straight away or leave it a while? How does it affect our grieving process? These and more questions answered by grief expert Elizabeth Postle.
We have discussed many aspects of lifestyle changes following a bereavement, but not the very important one of our home. This can be a challenge due to many factors - financial, emotional, social, physical or pressure from family to downsize.
When we are in shock from the loss of a loved one, decision making is difficult. Therefore major issues are best left until we are sure of making the correct one for us long term.
Over the years I have met many bereaved who went to stay with family immediately following their loss. Then they could never face going back to their home alone. This resulted in permanently living with the family or someone moving in with them.
We are all individuals who cope in differing ways. Although invited to stay with family after my loss I preferred to get used to being alone before taking a break with the family. This was best for me and I had supportive friends around. It would not suit everyone.
If the loved one was the bread winner, then downsizing and a house move may be the only option. Renting part of the home or taking in a lodger may be another. There is a lot to discuss with accountants or family.
Some bereaved feel that their home has too many memories which make them sad, others love the familiar home with all the memories and don’t wish to move on.
A natural move is often going back to the extended family area where you grew up, being surrounded by family and old friends. Being somewhere familiar helps.
One of the biggest problems we face when deciding on a move can be the loss of our social groups and close friends. If you have to move out of your local area to be near family or for financial reasons, then all your social groups, plus doctors, dentists etc. all have to be changed. A daunting prospect to be starting fresh in a new area. However it could be a stimulating challenge and with the internet we can still keep in touch with all our friends easily.
Another important factor to consider is our physical health and whether we are capable of doing all the chores on the home that has been shared for years. Losing your husband may mean all the gardening is your job too. Losing your wife means shopping, cooking, laundry etc all of which over the years may have been shared. Can you cope with all the household tasks, plus the financial aspects of the home as well?
Families often worry that mum or dad will not be able to cope alone and there can be pressure to move on. But, it does no harm to try for a while. Give yourself a chance to see how you cope with the extra challenges and surprise yourself.
To make any long term decisions take your time and make sure it is your choice. We will cope. Our confidence will return and we want to feel that our loved one would have been proud of us. Good luck with whatever you do.
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