AT THE THRESHOLD
Our last New Year’s party celebration and its reflection as our family moves forward after the death of my husband and we travel through new life experiences and sell the home where we had shared a life of laughter, love and fun and question the moments of loss and grief as we say goodbye to our home.
THE FINAL NEW YEAR’S PARTY
Hopefully, it wasn’t our actual last New Year’s party but it was the last one we’d have in the home we’ve enjoyed over the last decade.
It took a year to decide we should sell and move on and honestly everyone tells you not to make major decisions in the year following a death but even with time the decision was still difficult.
The house didn’t symbolize the place of my husbands death as our family decided it would be best for him to spend his final months at a wonderful private hospice house that looked out over the Mississippi River.
For some, having your loved one at a hospice center that manages the final months isn’t always an option, or a desired choice, and the family home can become a space of loss or grief even before the plan to sell and move.
I never anticipated that selling the house would bring on feelings of both loss and grief.
It did. It is a loss.
METHODS TO COMFORT
Chicago Tribune published a great article, “COPING WITH THE TRAUMA OF SELLING HOME, SWEET HOME” about the emotional hurdles of selling a home and offered their readers some excellent pointers on how to more effectively work through the emotional challenges faced when your home has sold.
The loss and grief some feel after selling a home isn’t reserved only for those who are following the death of a loved one as the feelings of loss are very common in the home selling process.
This is the house my son has known since one-year of age, where I brought my daughter home from the hospital, where we spent many normal days and hosted numerous parties, where we had Friday night pizza and movie parties with neighborhood kids, where we changed endless diapers, became versed in potty-training, where there were first words, first steps, where we fought cancer and lost a life to cancer. The house has so many firsts… and lasts… including this last party.
GOOD LUCK FOR THE NEW YEAR
We needed to ring in the joys and luck of the new year ahead so I offered our guest the perfect southern traditional new year’s good luck foods: black eyed peas, collard greens, corn bread and ham, plus some other familiar favorites, and our guests were all good sports and tried the southern fare that’s not traditional for Minnesotans. We celebrated and remembered the days past and toasted to the years ahead.
TIME TO SAY GOODBYE
Once our guests said their goodbyes the kids and I took some time to say goodbye to this house that has been our home.
We sat in each of our bedrooms together and remembered. We laughed and we cried as we recalled stories of “Auld Lang Syne” which can commonly be described as days gone by.
We walked to the spaces the cribs had once been, we stared out the windows at the trees, we stretched out in the bed and looked up as we recalled the nightly stories and we even pointed out the places of the vomit comets that came with a few stomach bugs along the way.
We were thankful for the memories and set out our wishes for the new owners to find a life of joy in their new home.
My son cried… my daughter smiled: One looked back as the other looked forward and my heart was stuck somewhere in the middle.
We walked around and talked together. I tried to stay focused on the adventures ahead but a nest is a nest and it’s hard sometimes, even when you’ve learned how to fly, to push your will to take that last step toward flight when you know you’ll never return.
It isn’t that you’re afraid to fly that makes you pause… it’s the knowledge that you can never go back.
It recalled the poem, “Gone from My Sight,” by Henry Van Dyke that describes the moment of death and yet it’s also fitting for loss and grief as there is the moment the loss turns into a rebirth of something new.
We’ve had many conversations in our family of loss and grief; we’re not alone. I always end such conversations with my children with these words…
MY ADVICE ON COPING
We all experience loss and grief as it’s just a part of life. You can cry. It’s okay. Imagine sitting in a bathtub while you are crying and you can fill that tub with your tears; all the way to the top if you need. When the bathtub is full though you must stop and wash yourself with those tears. Take your time and when you’re ready you must pull the drain and allow those tears that fell to serve their purpose and to wash away the spot of grief. And, you may need many, many baths and that’s okay too. But, each time you will need to pull the drain and release the grief to make room for joy.
I also explain to my children that pain felt from grief makes more room for the appreciation of joys and I recall the words written by Kahlil Gibran in “The Profit”:
“The deeper that sorrow carved into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
We took the step together as we turned out the lights and closed the doors to our rooms then silently walked downstairs and stood at the front door. It was time for us to go and keep our memories in our hearts.
“So long, it’s been good to know you.”
Sometimes my son will say when he sees me crying, “Mom, if you stay in that bathtub too long you’ll get all pruny.”
I’m going to add it to my advice… don’t linger too long in the bath of sorrow because joy is waiting on the other side and because you might get all pruny.
Still holding hands in our memories.
Share in the joys and acceptance we found as we moved forward in the journey in our new home in my article, “How to Start Over After a Death – Lessons of Life…”
SOME OF OUR MEMORIES ALONG THE WAY OF YESTERDAY