How Fresh Surroundings Can Bring Healing After a Major Loss

A very special thank you to Lucille Rosetti with The Bereaved at thebereaved.org for providing this week’s blog post.


Grief is one of the most painful experiences in life, and we all experience it differently. For some people, familiar surroundings after a major loss can be a comfort, but for others, it’s a painful reminder of what was. If you’re considering a fresh start in new surroundings, read on for how to traverse this difficult transition and find healing on the other side.  

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Figure Some Numbers

Before you start house hunting, one of the most important things to figure out is how much home you can realistically afford. If this is your first time purchasing a house solo, it can feel like a lonely and confusing task, but you can do it.  

The first thing you need to know is your debt-to-income ratio. Start by tallying all your monthly debt payments, then total your gross monthly income. Next, divide your debt payments by your income. This will give you a percentage indicating your debt-to-income ratio; lenders like to see an end result around 36 percent or less. From there, you can look at prospective homes. To help with your search, use this calculator to test different mortgages.  

Ease Your Burden

Since you are already going through a challenging time, think of buying a home as a period of opportunity. Consider the advantages that downsizing could bring — less house to maintain, a smaller financial burden, reduced utility bills, lower taxes, and smaller insurance premiums. Thanks to those savings, you can potentially set aside more funds toward your future.  

To help you assess the advantages, examine the current market.  It’ll give you a better feel for what homes in your price range are like.

Do Some Decluttering

Even before you find your next home, begin packing your belongings. Give yourself plenty of time for paring down your possessions, and bear in mind that if you do decide to downsize, a smaller space accommodates less.  

Think in terms of decluttering your things — eliminating excess items and parting ways with duplicates. As you go from room to room, sort items into categories of what to keep, what to throw away, and what to donate or sell. Ask yourself if you really love something or really use it, and if not, try to part ways with those things.  

Sort Your Loved One’s Things

Sorting your own items in anticipation of a downsize can be difficult enough, but sorting a departed loved one’s items can be especially hard. When deciding what to keep and what to let go of, Psychology Today suggests selecting some possessions you might enjoy using. For instance, maybe you would enjoy keeping that favorite coffee mug to use on Sunday mornings, or a set of special garden tools for planting flowers each spring. By incorporating something into your ongoing life, you connect the past with your future.

Hire Help or DIY the Move?

Moving is typically a pretty challenging process. It’s hard work, and it’s time-consuming. While you might decide to take the whole project on yourself to save money, some experts note it’s not always less expensive to DIY a move over hiring pros. However, if you have plenty of strong friends and the move is close, it might be a good time to bond and laugh with your buddies.  

If you elect to hire a mover, one suggestion is to contact the moving company well in advance of your moving date. The better movers tend to get booked up in advance.

When you’re going through a difficult period of life, it’s easy for timing to get away from you. Regardless of how your move occurs, try using this handy moving timeline to help you stay on track throughout the process.  

Losing someone you love is never easy. If being in familiar surroundings is too much to bear, a move can bring you healing. Allow yourself plenty of time for the process as a whole, and think through what will be healthiest for you as you look to the future.