Moving is Always a Daunting Task, Especially for Boomers and Seniors
“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are”
To say the least, these past few years have been terribly difficult for so many people, but especially us Boomers and Seniors losing parents and loved ones as a result of this pandemic and other causes.
Losing a loved one is never easy, but when it does happen, it creates a cascade of events many of which are not desirable. Changes to our financial health, physical and mental trauma, the days and nights are different to be sure, there is a daze that envelopes us and is quite unforgiving, and our routine is completely messed up. These are the most common, but there are two in particular that stand out as the biggest disruptors. Downsizing and relocation.
Whenever you voluntarily decide or are forced to decide to do either, it is always a difficult and overwhelming task, no matter what age, but more so if you are widowed, a Boomer, or a Senior and making this life changing decision on your own.
However, I’m here as your BoomerGal to let you know no one has to go through this painful process on their own. There are so many support groups, both small and large, that can step in to help navigate this treacherous road. You being one of the most important.
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt”
Charles M. Schultz
In my case, my BoomerGuy and I have certainly done our share, mostly as a result of corporate relocations. And we have one more ahead of us although it is a personal one where we’re building our dream home. After so many moves, we do happen to know a thing or two about the process, and what makes it easier and less difficult.
I’ve never heard anyone say, “gee, I just love moving.”
But how do you help a friend who is recently widowed to move on and move out from her home where she shared so many years and memories with her husband?
My very dear friend lost her husband this past December to a heart condition. I was at the hospital comforting her upon the news of his passing, then my BoomerGuy and I delivered food to make sure she was eating and I continued to offer whatever advice I could to get her through the days and nights. Along the way, I lost both my parents to COVID in the month of January, so now I was a mess also. Thank goodness for my BoomerGuy who stepped in to take up the slack. Whenever you think it’s going to get easier, sometimes it doesn’t, you just plow through.
This past week, my friend decided to make a broad sweeping change. She was going to move to Florida (from southern California) to be closer to her sister. Well, let me tell you, making the decision is one thing, but implementing that decision is something entirely different.
OK, decision made! Along with a mutual acquaintance, I helped my 67-year-old widow friend stage her house for sale. Remember, I am an interior designer and by definition, I do know a bit about staging a house for max value. Boy did we work. We tackled almost every space in the house, including the outside landscaping and home exterior. We helped her declutter and make the space look larger for potential buyers. We cleaned, cleaned, and then cleaned even more inside and out.
So, when the decision is made, how do you help and what small or large part can you help with. If you really care for and love your friend or family member, the whole thing!!! But you need to think outside the box.
Here we go, downsizing and relocation TIPS.
Step One. Be a confidant. Listen and listen more. Then state your case. It might be that you disagree with the sudden impulse to ‘get out of town’ or it may be that you support every bit of her decision. Regardless of your position, take one and don’t waiver, but be ready to defend your decision with facts, know the pros and cons. Remember! Do it with kindness and understanding.
Step Two. Help her create a ‘spreadsheet’ detailing the costs involved in the relocation, front to end.
Step Three. Help her work through the ‘leaving of the friends and family’ syndrome. If you think for a minute you will be flying back and forth every month or couple of months to ensure the connection, it ain’t going to happen. Everyone I know who had grand plans of returning every month or so haven’t been able to pull it off—too costly and COVID restrictions have made it too difficult to navigate. So be prepared.
Step Four. She has a house full of memories, so help determine the sentimental (not financial) value of her stuff. We all know the drill: keep the pile, next is the garage sale pile, then donate pile, and eventually toss the pile.
Step Five. Determine the financial value of your things—check out your local consignment store or estate sale company before making any major decisions. Or perhaps your community is having a garage sale event. Maybe sell items online. So many options out there: eBay, Craig’s List and professional liquidators. For valuable items like antiques, take them to an antique dealer. You definitely have some calls and leg work to do. Also, clearly understand the split you have to give up to sell your pieces.
Step Six. Donate your items to a charity or a church. Remember you are letting go to those who are in need and have less than you do. You’ll feel like a burden has been lifted when you realize someone else will benefit from their use.
Step Seven. Ask family and friends if they want any of the items. It’s very nice to share, especially among those who have helped you along this journey.
Step Eight. Keep some of the cherished memories of your loved one. If you’ve got loads of time before you downsize or sell, scan them into a favorite photo folio and along with any letters.
Once the house sells and you’re free, now you’re ready to live the life you choose.
It was truly heart-warming for me to help my friend. I gave suggestions on how to downsize having done it myself a number of times. I helped locate a moving company that I’ve used in the past. ABF will deliver pods to her home and once the house sells they will pick them up in California and deliver to her destination in Florida.
She’s made her calls to the consignment company and is participating in a community wide garage sale this weekend. She’s decided she is taking only a few cherished items with her and will start the next chapter of her life by purchasing new furniture and staples at her new location.
I always called stages and phases of my life chapters. Are you ready to start a new chapter?
As you might have guessed, this is a shorter than normal blog. I’m off to continue helping my friend wrap up her old chapter and excel with her new one. Just remember, when you help a friend or family member, you need to be kind and let them travel down their memory lane with all the grace and dignity possible. It’s a lot to process…first you lose a loved one, then you grieve, then you decide to do a life-altering change. This is an enormously stressful time, so be thoughtful and be present, and keep moving forward.
“Take a moment to see the good,
To remember the smiles,
To remember the moments,
To remember the little things,
To be thankful,
To be grateful,
Take time to see the wonderful in this world,
The more you see the good,
The more you will inspire others to see it as well.
Rachel Marie Martin