There’s a reason that the Wednesday edition of the Grief Recovery Update is arriving on Thursday. No, the dog didn’t eat my homework, but he did cause a real big problem in our lives, but that’s another story, for another time. The big reason was that Wednesday was escrow closing day on the house that Alice and I bought here in Southern California. For those of you familiar with the area, you’ll know that the mortgage amount resembles the gross national product of most Balkan countries. It’s a staggering number to contemplate, and terrifying when seen through the prism of monthly payments. Oh well, better not give up my day job.
But this is not an article about the cost of housing here in La La land. Our articles are always about loss and recovery. See if you can guess how we will go from escrow to grief. Of course there are bridge loans, but that would be a cheap shot.
The real issue here is emotion, not money. It’s about moving and change. Loss and grief are about all the human emotions caused when everything we’re familiar with changes. Obviously, when a loved one dies, the familiarity of our contact with them is irrevocably altered. What was once a relationship with physical, emotional, and spiritual components has been reduced to just the latter two. Heartbreakingly so.
Divorce, too, is about change in the familiar. And although there is no physical death, the physical aspect of the relationship becomes quite different than before, and often results in no further contact of any kind. It can also be said that it is the death of the relationship the way we knew it and the way it was supposed to go on forever.
Moving fits the definition of change to a tee. When we move, everything that we are familiar with changes. Please notice that it doesn’t say that everything good changes, or everything bad changes, just that everything familiar changes. Since change is the most difficult of all things we humans must deal with, moving can evoke a tremendous emotional response. It does not matter if we are moving up or down or laterally. It doesn’t matter if we’re moving to a bigger house or smaller. It’s all about change and the emotions that attend to it.
Alice and I, along with the seller, stood in the driveway of our new home-to-be. He’s a lovely man who’d just given us a walk-through of the details we’d need to know. We learned about the alarm system, and the sprinklers, and all manner of information essential to home ownership.
Our dog Max, the magnificent Hungarian Vizsla, received the same tour. He had his own unique way of anointing his new territory. ‘Nuff said?
Because I do what I do with grief and recovery, I try to have my walk and my talk match up in real life. As soon as the house tour was done, I made a statement of my emotional condition. I told the seller that I had a mixture of feelings – excitement about the move into the new house, and normal fears about leaving the condo that Alice and I have lived in for the past 16 years. It has been our home, and we are very familiar with it.
You’ll recall I said the seller was a lovely fellow. Sure enough, he followed my lead and talked about the house that had been his family’s home for the past 12 years. He talked about the fact that his son was born and raised in that home, and that he and his family had a boatload of emotions connected to all that house and the events that had happened under the safety of its roof.
So there we were, relative strangers, standing in the driveway of a home that is going to be the past for some and the future for others – sharing our deep feelings about what we are leaving and where we are going.
The emotions were tangible and wonderful – human and natural. Just the way things should be.