My Mom is selling the home where she lived for the last 25 years. All of my final memories of my Dad are there. His chair still sits at the dining rom table, and I remember the good times as well as the last days of his illness. This home bore witness to it all.
I went back, with trepidation, for one last visit. There is a slight smell of spices in the front hall. My favorite place is the garden, with the comfortable lounging chairs and the views of the lake. We had lots of dinners on that patio.
I wondered how to say goodbye to this home base which is disappearing from my life. I considered taking some Iris from the garden, but my Mom had given the gardener all of the gardening tools, so we had no shovels left to dig them up. The house was already becoming a shell of its former self, with boxes in the living room and blank spaces on the walls.
I spent time in the garden, and remembered sitting there with my Father. My husband grilled meat on my Dad’s barbecue. I took my son to swim in the lake. We drank one of the best bottles of wine that my parents had saved for a special occasion. Everything was getting packed up and given away.
I chose a few favorite things to keep. This brought me some comfort.
There are many reasons that we might lose a home. Sometimes we move by choice, perhaps due to new opportunities. Sometimes we face circumstances which may be out of our control, such as a death, foreclosure, financial difficulties, divorce, disaster, or a job relocation. As a society we do not always recognize the significance of losing a home; it is a loss which may be unrecognized, but which often brings up much sadness and grief.
Here are some ideas of possible ways to say goodbye to a home:
Plan and be purposeful. Make a visit. If possible, try to go before everything is packed away.
Take time to remember. You may want to take photographs of special rooms or belongings which bring up memories for you.
Plan a ritual if you wish. You might want to light a candle, burn sage, drink a toast, or sit around the table one more time to eat a favorite family meal.
Share memories and stories of time spent in the home.
If possible, find something to keep which is meaningful to you and which brings up strong memories of the place.
Engage in the creative process by writing a poem, drawing a picture, or taking photos.
Please chime in of you have any additional ideas of ways to honor and say goodbye to a place which is important to you.