Get ready, I’m gonna hit you with a buzzword: closure.
You hear it a lot these days— but what the heck does it mean??
I’m pulling out my handy Merriam-Webster here, and the ol’ M-W defines it as “the property that a number system or a set has when it is mathematically closed under an operation.”
Oops, sorry, wrong definition.
Here’s the one we want: “an often comforting or satisfying sense of finality; also: something (such as a satisfying ending) that provides such a sense.”
Let’s face it: moving is hard. A lot of times it means leaving a place you love. A place where you’ve been happy and had good times. You’re leaving friends and comfortable routines.
It’s a major life change. Like changing jobs, ending a relationship, losing a loved one.
So how do you say goodbye? How do you bring this chapter of your life to a satisfying close– one that ends on a hopeful note?
Here are a few suggestions.
Visit local spots that hold special memories. Take photos. Put them in an album. Be sure to add captions!! (You’ll be glad you did– trust me.) You’ll have something to look at when you’re feeling nostalgic, and taking the photos will help prepare you for saying goodbye.
Do some local thing you always meant to do, but never quite got around to: that restaurant you wanted to try; a community theater production; a hiking trail; a local museum.
What about that hole-in-the-wall tattoo parlor?? (kidding)
While you’re at it, get a keepsake: a mug, a tee-shirt, a baseball cap, something from a local artist. Something to take with you.
Throw a house cooling party for friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Be sure to invite your kids’ friends, too.
Don’t make a fancy 5-course meal!— you don’t need the extra stress when you’re getting ready to move. Make it a pot-luck or just order pizza.
Encourage everyone to share memories, and/or ask them to sign a memory book. Drink a toast to your old house and all the wonderful memories you’ve made there. Wish the new owners the same kind of happiness.
A note of caution: a party’s not really the place to share worries and expectations and special confidences. So reserve a special farewell for really close friends, the ones you’ll really miss a lot.
Was there a special activity you enjoyed doing with a particular friend? Playing golf, taking walks, having coffee? Do it one last time, and promise to stay in touch.
Take one last walk through the house together as a family. Each room is sure to stir a memory. Be sure to share those memories and take some photos.
Take a family photo in front of the old house, and another in front of the new house. The end of one great adventure, and the beginning of another.
Consider coming back to visit within the first year after your move. Visit old friends, drive by your old house. It might be bittersweet, but doing so could help bring a sense of finality to that chapter of your life.
It’s not easy for kids to say goodbye to their friends. Here’s a great idea from The Military Wife:
Families tend to accrue a lot of handmade art. Most of it winds up on the refrigerator! Have kids give these drawings to their friends as going-away gifts. They can sign them and write a note, or use one of these goodbye quotes. We could all take a lesson from a certain bear:
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” -Winnie-the-Pooh (A.A. Milne)
Consider writing a letter to the new owners. Just writing something down can help us achieve closure.
Make it a short one. (The new owners will want to make their own memories.) Just say how much you’ve enjoyed living there, and that you hope they’ll be as happy as you were.
I also came across this idea while researching this post: leave a mark.
Does that mean carving your initials in a tree? Leaving your handprints in wet cement? Tagging your garage with graffiti??
No, no, and no!
It means something like writing your initials in a totally out-of-the-way spot— a timber in the attic, maybe, or underneath a shelf.
You’re only doing it for yourself, and it’s no longer your property, so if you go this route, write small and use a pencil.
Do I have any bright original ideas to help achieve closure after a move? I do: Give your friends postcards addressed to your new home and tell them to drop you a line in a few weeks when you’ll need a boost.
You can pass them out at that house cooling party. Oh— be sure to put postage on them. Remember the American Van Lines motto: Make it as easy as possible!!
Finally, all fun and joking aside, there’s no getting away from it: moving is tough, psychologically. Allow yourself some time to grieve. It’s normal, it’s healthy.
Give yourself time to adjust and let go.
Mark Armstrong is an illustrator and digital marketing expert. He helps brands get noticed and tell their stories. He knows humor gets people to lower their shields.