Saying Good-bye to the Family Home
the unfolding seasons that are a part of caregiving and
care-receiving, many families find themselves saying good-bye to the
Itís a special time in the life of a family. Itís a time to
remember what has been and what is passing away. There will be no
more Thanksgiving meals in that dining room, with the parents and
grandparents sitting elbow to elbow at the table with its extra
leaves, and the kids giggling at their own, fun table. There will be
no more placing the Christmas tree (a big one when Mom gets to pick
it, a small one when itís Dadís turn) in that corner.
Sometimes the move can be bittersweet. Mom is leavingóand
thatís difficultóbut sheís moving into a lovely smaller home or
apartment. Sheís bought a condominium. Sheís going to a retirement
community that better suits her needs now. Sheís heading for a
Sometimes sorrow can dominate the move. Dad isnít able to take
care of the house anymore. Taxes, insurance, and maintenance on the
house take too big a bite from a fixed income. The neighborhood has
changed; itís no longer safe. Mom has passed away and Dad really
isnít able to live alone. For the widow or widower, saying good-bye
to the family home can feel like having to say good-bye again to
that loving spouse. This was their house, from the time they first
saw it on the market until long after the paperwork for the mortgage
was burned. They were partners here. Itís very sad to leave.
If your family is getting ready to say good-bye to the family
home, here are a few things you can do:
--Let your parent choose what comes with her and what goes.
What is junk to you may have a lot of sentimental value to her.
--Lend a hand. Dad may need your help sorting and
packing; moving takes a lot of work, and thereís always a lot of
worry involved. (And you may finally have to do something with those
boxes of your stuff youíve been storing in his basement or attic.)
--Preserve the memories. Take some pictures of the
inside and the outside of the house. Of course the family has taken
hundreds of snapshots there for years and years, but maybe not of
each bedroom, the family room, the basement. This house is part of
your familyís history. Better still, walk around with a video
camera. Let the family join you for a running commentary: ďHereís
where we kept track of how tall each child was.Ē ďThis is the window
that was broken twice in the same week by the same baseball.Ē ďDad
built this bedroom onto the back of the house after Susan was born.Ē
--Come together for one last meal to say good-bye.
Sometimes families make it a final Thanksgiving, Christmas, or
Easter dinner, or a meal for a parentís birthday. Itís an
opportunity to share memories, to laugh and to cry.
--Donít forget that a house is only a structure. Itís
the people and the love theyíve shared that have made this place so
special. Those people, that love, arenít being left behind; theyíre
simply moving to a new address. Remember, the home didnít make the
family; the family made the home. And the family is still here.
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