Dad Passed Away – We Really Need to Get Mom to Move
I have started this blog several times over the last couple of years, but have never found quite the right words. So here goes again -
One of the hardest life events is to have your father pass away. As an adult child, you quickly find yourself becoming very protective of your mother. You want to do things to help her through this tough time, to ease or even shield her from the pain you can see in her face and in her every action. A common response is to try to get her to move, perhaps to be closer to you, but definitely to get her away from the house that they shared for so many years. After all, all those constant reminders would renew the pain again and again, right? And besides, you know she needs to move on with her life, and a physical move would symbolically and physically start that process. You can’t imagine she really wants to stay there alone with those memories haunting and constantly causing new pain.
My Dad passed away in 1995, and that pretty much describes my sibling’s and my reaction and thought process. We convinced Mom to move out closer to us and “really begin to move on.” Now there were some health issues as well, so she did probably need to move sooner or later, but we definitely pushed hard for the “sooner.” Mom agreed to do so, but I’m not certain whether it was because we convinced her that it was a good idea or because it was easier to do it than to argue with us.
Looking back, I’m not sure Mom was ever truly happy; in fact, I’m fairly certain she was not. Sure, she was close to us and to her youngest grandchild, and she did like that. But she never really seemed to feel like the new place was home, even after 15 years. She didn’t make many friends and wasn’t ever comfortable getting around the area. Even so, we were certain that this was better than allowing her to stay where she was and never move on.
A little over 5 years ago, I experienced the other side of the coin when my husband passed away after a short illness. Losing a parent is tough, but it is nothing like the pain of losing your spouse. There was not only the pain of the loss, but also a feeling of being thrown into the sea. It seemed as though my entire life had been ripped apart. Everything was different, and the one person I had always relied on to provide stability and comfort in hard times was no longer there.
After the funeral, I found myself alone (OK, I had the two dogs) in the house we had shared for over 15 years. I walked through it looking at everything in it, and I learned something. The house was not full of pain and memories waiting to open (very) fresh wounds. Instead, it felt like my anchor, my refuge – my Home. It was the familiar in a world that had otherwise been thrown into turmoil. And I needed the comfort of my home – something that had not changed – to help me get through the next several months.
About a year later, my life regained some stability as I adjusted to the new normal. Only then I was ready to make the move to a new home better suited to my new life. The key was that I was able to make the decision on my terms and on the time table that was right for me. I also ended up moving to a location that I never would have considered if I had moved immediately.
I know my son worried about me (he called every day for several weeks or even a few months), and I’m also certain he wanted me to move closer to him, even if he never said it at the time. I need to remember to thank him for that one of these days. I am sure delaying my move actually helped ease the pain and ultimately speed the healing process.
Moving is stressful under the best circumstances. It takes time to find the right home, and clear thinking to plan the move. Unless there is some compelling reason (health, financial, etc.), the weeks immediately following the death of a spouse is probably not the best time to find a new home, even if the kids think it would be best for you.