Our house sold a few weeks ago. Now it’s time for another stage of letting go of the place called home.
Letting go of our home is a process just like letting go of work, or friends, or a pet. Letting go began with the decision, many months ago, to down-size and move to a smaller house.
The next stage was de-cluttering and purging ‘stuff’ that had accumulated during 25 years of living here. It involved a basement bootcamp that took weeks as we cleared bookshelves that contained a small library of text books, professional books, and best sellers. It involved sorting sports equipment, trophies, sports clothes, books, toys, and other memorabilia belonging to our son but never taken out of the house. It involved looking through gifts, and mementos from family and friends that had been stored and forgotten.
Sorting photos as well as framed pictures of awards, degrees, certificates and other career highlights that both my husband and I saved took days.
There were moments of euphoria. There were moments of despair. Almost every item we touched brought vivid memories — sometimes happy, sometimes sad. There was frustration. What should be kept? If this item is tossed, will it be missed? There were tears. It felt like excavating 25 years of life.
We felt less encumbered as stuff disappeared. Rooms were bigger. There was an emptiness in some of the space. Once the SOLD sign was in the front yard, it also began to feel as though our house belonged to someone else.
Closure, sort of…..
Now that the house is sold, its time for beginning the final ‘letting go’. It’s not quite the final closure as we won’t ‘close’ the Agreement for Sale until June 20 but we have entered another phase of the letting go process.
We need rituals as we say good-bye to the feelings and emotions contained in our house, to remember key life events including birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, career successes, and life passages. We need to find ways to honour rooms where we took refuge when grief, loss, and disappointment came our way. My husband and I have told the stories of these times as we begin packing the things that will move with us.
Since last fall, I’ve taken photos of favourite spaces in the house, our back garden and our street. I need these digital memories — at least in the short-term.
Now we need good-bye rituals as we prepare for the last departure. Indigenous people often use tobacco or cleansing ceremonies when something new is acquired. Good-bye rituals are also common but these often involve death.
Perhaps some type of ceremony to mark this ending is needed, as emotionally, we will carry parts of this house with us in our memories. We haven’t decided how to say good-bye to our house. It might be a final dinner with time for stories. It might be a walk-through of each empty room after the moving truck is loaded, holding hands, and looking around. It might just be a final lock-up of the 3 exit doors and the garage.
Leaving is a process. The ties to a place are strong. A significant good-bye marking this separation with loving-kindness recognizes how much we loved the life that we lived here. We use deliberate, kind good-byes with people we love, why not with places we love?
Once we move to a another house and a different community, we’ll change. Letting go to launch new opportunities and new adventures means giving a heart-felt farewell. It hurts but honouring the memories allows the transition that awaits.