Top Ten Tips in Letting Go of the Family Home

    May 06,2015

    By Suzanne Perkins Newman

    This experience can be a gift to each one of you. It is an opportunity to reminisce and share with each other about your childhood memories. It is an opportunity for closure, for healing, and for a deeper understanding of one another. How?

    1. Before starting the process, sit down with your parents and your family members and take an inventory of everything in the family home. Ask Mom & Dad what items are important for them and make a list. What goes with them? What personal items go to which family member?
    2. Don't put yourself last. Share with them openly about personal items of theirs that you would like to have. If there are things left in the home that you would like to keep, speak up.
    3. Ease Mom & Dad's stress! Move your parents first before you go through their stuff. Let them get settled in as little amount of stress as possible. In moving my mom into retirement living, we rented the guest room first for a few days so we could do all the moving and organizing her new apartment so that she had as little amount of stress as possible. She was excited to pop in and see her new place coming together!
    4. After Mom & Dad's list is complete, then focus on your siblings. Did Mom & Dad have requests that certain belongings should go to specific family members? Make sure you itemize each item and distribute appropriately
    5. Sit down with each one of your family members individually. Ask them to share their own memories of the family home. Those memories can often times be road maps to what items in the home might have the most meaning for a family member.
    6. Take the time at the end of each day to reflect on what just happened. For me, the experience of packing up the family home was one of the most profound in my caregiving experience. Write about it if you journal. Allow your feelings to happen. For us, we would convene at a restaurant close by, share a couple of cocktails and laugh, cry, and share about the things we found! It was a bonding experience for us, and one I will cherish going forward.
    7. Understand that your experiences, your memories, and your processes will likely be unique to each one of your family members. Take the time to listen to their memories and their sharing.
    8. Take the time to have closure with the memories you have associated with each room. Part of that process can be a spiritual one. "Bless" the space using the good memories to nurture another family. See the home as a wonderful benefactor to create new memories for the home's next occupant.
    9. Write a letter to the new homeowner. Share what the home meant to you. You might wish to talk about some of the special memories that were created there. Allow the new family to know how much joy has already lived in their new home.
    10. Document this process! Take lots of photos! Take pictures of old memorabilia that you are throwing away. Take videos of each other sharing your memories!

    Remember, it is normal to have many mixed feelings at this time. Don't be surprised at the emotions that get a hold of you and your family members. Learn to be patient and allow them to be what they are. Keep your hearts open to one another, and as you do, it just might be a new way for you all to be enriched together. 

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