Letting Go of the Place Called Home

Our house sold a few weeks ago.  Now it’s time for another stage of letting go of the place called home.

Letting go of our home is a process just like letting go of work, or friends, or a pet.  Letting go began with the decision, many months ago, to down-size and move to a smaller house.

The next stage was de-cluttering and purging ‘stuff’ that had accumulated during 25 years of living here.  It involved a basement bootcamp that took weeks as we cleared bookshelves that contained a small library of text books, professional books, and best sellers. It involved sorting sports equipment, trophies, sports clothes, books, toys, and other memorabilia belonging to our son but never taken out of the house.  It involved looking through gifts, and mementos from family and friends that had been stored and forgotten.

Sorting photos as well as framed pictures of awards, degrees, certificates and other career highlights that both my husband and I saved took days.

There were moments of euphoria. There were moments of despair.  Almost every item we touched brought vivid memories — sometimes happy, sometimes sad. There was frustration. What should be kept? If this item is tossed, will it be missed? There were tears. It felt like excavating 25 years of life.

We felt less encumbered as stuff disappeared. Rooms were bigger. There was an emptiness in some of the space.  Once the SOLD sign was in the front yard, it also began to feel as though our house belonged to someone else.

Closure, sort of…..

Now that the house is sold, its time for beginning the final ‘letting go’. It’s not quite the final closure as we won’t ‘close’ the Agreement for Sale until June 20 but we have entered another phase of the letting go process.

We need rituals as we say good-bye to the feelings and emotions contained in our house, to remember key life  events including birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, career successes, and life passages. We need to find ways to honour rooms where we took refuge when grief, loss, and disappointment came our way. My husband and I have told the stories of these times as we begin packing the things that will move with us.

Since last fall, I’ve taken photos of favourite spaces in the house, our back garden and our street.  I need these digital memories — at least in the short-term.

letting go -- my spring garden
letting go — my spring garden

Now we need good-bye rituals as we prepare for the last departure.  Indigenous people often use tobacco or cleansing ceremonies when something new is acquired. Good-bye rituals are also common but these often involve death.

Perhaps some type of ceremony to mark this ending is needed, as emotionally, we will carry parts of this house with us in our memories. We haven’t decided how to say good-bye to our house.  It might be a final dinner with time for stories. It might be a walk-through of each empty room after the moving truck is loaded, holding hands, and looking around. It might just be a final lock-up of the 3 exit doors and the garage.

Leaving is a process. The ties to a place are strong.  A significant good-bye marking this separation with loving-kindness recognizes how much we loved the life that we lived here. We use deliberate, kind good-byes with people we love, why not with places we love?

Once we move to a another house and a different community, we’ll change.  Letting go to launch new opportunities and new adventures means giving a heart-felt farewell.  It hurts but honouring the memories allows the transition that awaits.


7 Replies to “Letting Go of the Place Called Home”

  1. […] retired people downsize their living arrangements either before or during their early retirement years.  Some stay in […]

  2. Enjoy the process, Jeanette; you’re still young enough to do so.

    1. You are so right — all aspects of moving are a process! It feels as though I’ve put so many activities that I enjoy on ‘hold’ but I’m clinging to the vision of an easier lifestyle with less house to manage and less ‘stuff’ to clutter my brain. Thanks for all your support during these past months!

  3. I can sense your sadness as you’ve discussed decluttering, listing the house for sale, and now facing the reality that it has been sold. It’s amazing how attached we are to place, and how difficult it can be to leave a place where we have spent years and made emotional investments. Your forward-looking ideas about how you will finally say goodbye to your home are similar to what I have experienced in leaving my several homes over the years: walking through the empty rooms, taking photos of the gardens, speaking aloud to the spirits and memories in the rooms and outdoor spaces. It’s a series of steps of grief, I think. I’ll be thinking of you as you get ready to leave for good.


    1. Hi Rin, Your words always provide encouragement! This whole process has been painful, yet somehow exhilirating.
      As I struggle with a myriad of feelings, I’m reminded that so many of the things in life that give ‘soul’ strength’ are experienced with a continuum of emotions. It’s inspiring to hear that you used photos and rituals in ‘letting go’ processes when you’ve had to de-tach from a home and a house. Thanks for your kind thoughts and your reminder of the stages of grieving.
      Be well, Jeanette

  4. Sydney Misener says: Reply

    following your journey with interest Jeanette, as we are just behind you in the process. Our “for sale” sign went up last week and now its the strange feeling of letting people you don’t know look through your most private spaces.As you have said the de cluttering turns up all kinds of unexpected things such as letters I wrote to my parents from summer camp when I was 15. Becoming reacquainted with my younger self………

    1. The two weeks it took to sell the house seemed endless. At the end of a day when 3 or 4 showing occurred, it always felt like the space needed a smudging ceremony to get rid of spirits of other people who had been there. The worst happened on the day before the sale when somebody pulled out the gas fireplace insert! We couldn’t determine who it was as two showings happened that evening. I hope your house sells soon!

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