Attention: children of parents who are downsizing. There certainly is an emotional hurdle for you, but get over it, and be supportive. Mom and Dad are moving and here is the challenge. It WAS your “home” too. And somehow, no matter where they go (retirement community, patio home etc.) it won’t be “home” as you knew it anymore. The place where you grew up, the place where you took your babies to visit, is being abandoned. If you are upset about Mom and Dad moving, you might be selfishly motivated. Perhaps you will finally have to decide what to do with the trophies and personal paraphernalia you have stashed for years in your parents’ attic, basement and garage. Draw on your coping mechanism deep inside and don’t make your feelings an issue that might sabotage your parent’s motivation to move.
I can relate. I was born in Washington, D.C., and my parents had always had a home there. When we children left home and they sold the house, my aging parents moved into an apartment for the next 20 years. I always had a place to go and spend the night whenever I made trips to D.C. My parent’s apartment was still “home” to me because they were there. It was still “home” after my Dad died because my Mom was still there. I had a safe harbor to anchor my spirit, that part of myself that was still their “child.” And when my “babies” were born, I had a familiar place to take them, spend the weekend and be “family” at “home.” Then Mom got dementia and she had to vacate. Family furniture pieces were sold or forsaken. I couldn’t absorb all the treasures and memory icons although I wanted to. “Home” as I knew it, was forever broken apart.
Then the torch was passed to me, and I needed to continue to grow the concept of “home” for my own children. That becomes our job when our parents dissolve their (our) home of many decades. As the next in line, we circle the wagons, and re-establish that traditional concept of “home” – a place that is always warm and welcoming.
So, the loss of the one physical address we were used to should lead to an acceptance and new appreciation for wherever Mom and Dad land. Focus on what they may need as they reconfigure their life. Suck up any feeling of loss. We are not the priority – they are. Loving on them, helping them move, unpack and decorate, sharing time with them in the new place – all this will generate a new warmth and make them feel “at home,” wherever that may be.
Written by Linda Balentine, president of Crowning Touch Senior Moving Services. CrowningTouchUSA.com