In less than three weeks, we will be moving from our home of 19 years. We will be exchanging our 1.5 acres for 0.15 acres, our detached home with large garden and woodlands for an attached home whose garden is the size of our current garage. This is our choice, and I am in no sense complaining. But it feels like is a loss. No, not the terrible tragedy of losing a loved one or even that sadness that came when we lost our dog three years ago. Yet it is an end, a turning point, a giving up never to return, a passage from the known and comfortable to the uncertain.
We are aging if not yet old. We chose to move while we can do it ourselves, rather than having our children cope with the work of downsizing us at a time when they will no doubt be dealing with our inevitable physical if not also mental decline. That statement is not a plea for sympathy or admiration; it is just reality.
Life is and has been wonderful. I am blessed beyond expectation. Yet any life contains loss -- a series of them. Some are incredibly painful. Most are milder -- children who left the nest, job changes, birthdays that signaled the transition from youth to middle age and beyond. Some strike me now as losses when I did not perceive them that way before: the last time my toddlers ran to hug me, as if their greatest joy was being enfolded in my arms, and the time I saw hundreds of fireflies fill the forest outside our front door, a sight I have never seen -- and will most likely never see -- again.
Yet, while part of me will feel the loss when I head down our tree-lined driveway for the last time, another part of me will come fully alive. Our new home will have joys of its own -- the ability to walk to shops and restaurants, the chance to create a new garden (unlikely this time to be eaten by deer), the possibility of new friendships, a new town to explore, and new memories to create. Loss has a way, if we are open to it, of fostering a resurgence of life. That life will never be the same, and if I grieve too long for what I have lost, it will never be as joyful. Grief is inevitable with loss, as necessary as breathing and, in the end, if we can achieve it, as restorative.
And so I will pack the memorial plaque on our garden path, the one I had made for Sasha, our Maltese, whose ashes are strewn there, that says how "She raced around these paths, jumped up these steps, and leapt into our hearts." I will carry that sign to our new home, our new garden, and it will be a needed reminder that loss is inevitable but living a choice and that if I am smart, I will accept the former and embrace the latter.
For more by Terry Newell, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.