The heartbreak of downsizing a home is a fact of life for many “later lifers” or divorcees. Whilst the reasons for the downsize maybe practical, such as finances, health issues, or a simpler life. The emotions it attracts are genuine: grief, stress and anxiety.
Understanding these may not change how you feel, but it might help manage them, letting you focus on the upsides of the move.
Grief is completely natural. There are many reasons why you might feel sad. You’ve lived in your home for many years and are emotionally attached to it. You simply don’t want to leave emotionally even though you know you have to practically. There’s not enough space in your new home for all your possessions. You may be moving away from a familiar neighbourhood and good friends.
“Letting go of your home and your belongings can feel like you’re letting go of a particular part of your life. There’s a realisation that you can’t get the past back” explains Dr David Mischoulon, director of the Depression Clinical and Research Program at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Moving is stressful no matter what the situation surrounding it is. A downsize magnifies all this especially when coming in later years or following a traumatic separation.
What to bring, how to “rehome” a lifetime of possessions that are not making the move with you can be overwhelming.
“When you’re 70 or older, you don’t have the same organisational or coping skills you had at 30. You can get easily overwhelmed and feel tasks are impossible,” Dr Mischoulon says. And stress is not good for your health.
Anxiety can creep up on you when you’re worried about the unknown. It may be a financial concern or simply that you’re moving to a new area and having to start again making friends and finding your way around.
Letting go of items whether they are useful or family heirlooms also causes anxiety. “If you’ve lived through tough economic times in the past, there is an element of wanting to hold on to things because you may need them one day” Dr Mischoulon explains.
Tips to cope with the heartbreak of downsizing your home
- Understand that you need to mourn and it is a process and you will get through it. Don’t rush it but it will pass if you work at it
- Get involved in your new community as quickly as possible. If you sing, join a choir. If you paint, find a local artists group. Or volunteer. Just be busy.
- Enlist as much help as possible – family friends, professionals
- For items that you can’t take with you, either monetise them or donate them so they have a new life with someone who needs them.
- Follow simple rules for decluttering. Do you love it? Have you used it in the last 12 months? Do you have other items serving the same purpose? Are you keeping it out of guilt or sense of responsibility?
- Hand family heirlooms onto the next generation. And if you can replace something for less than £20 in less than 20 minutes and there’s no room for it, let it go.
Remember, we never have all the answers at any stage of our lives. And that’s OK.
If you don’t have the time, to project manage a house move yourself and you would like a chat about how the Homemover Specialist could help you move house and reduce your anxiety contact us on 01483 255895 or by email. For more top tips and latest news make sure you follow our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram page