Saying Goodbye to a Home and Grieving Places Past

Understanding Grief / Understanding Grief : Eleanor Haley


My grandmother belonged in her home like a doll in her dollhouse. Each article of clothing, piece of furniture, and accessory seemed perfectly suited to her style and personality. I imagine her now, standing in her doorway at 12 am in a cotton nightgown, ushering my rumpled and crumpled family of eight inside after the long voyage between our home in Syracuse, New York to hers in Massachusetts.

She was not a traditional grandmother in any sense. Her knick-knacks were precious, her attire was elegant, and she always wore her hair in a youthful red bob. She was tough and smart and energetic and the guts and nerve contained in her petite 5’0 frame rivaled that of any 10 men.

My memories of my grandmother are made three dimensional by the details of her environment – the sound of the creaky back stairs, the smell of mothballs in her large linen closet, the hum of crickets drifting into her living room on summer nights while my sister and I listened to old records and my grandmother danced in the arms of an invisible beau, her nightly glass of sherry in hand.

Her house was like a living breathing thing with character and history. Scattered throughout, the secrets of her youth and the soap opera stories of those who came before her could be found in dark cellars, deep closets, and heavy oak drawers. Fascinating treasures told of a time when my grandmother was a knockout who wore sparkly dresses and fur coats to fancy parties; when the women of the house hosted dinner parties with fine china and good silver; and when adults, influenced by depression era proclivities, stockpiled commodities like matchbooks and sugar packets.

During visits to my grandmother’s house, I felt like I was a girl in one of my books like The Secret Garden who slept in a bedroom with a four-poster bed and whose only amusement was to wander the grounds and daydream. Sitting in the grass behind her house I would wonder who sat here a century ago and imagine the stone garage and little barn lining the yard’s perimeter were still the chauffer’s and the gardener’s domain.

Perhaps the sounds of my sisters doing cartwheels in the yard could be heard or perhaps my father drove his big van down the gravel driveway and, after stopping with a final crunch, emerged from the front seat with a cartwheelssix-pack of beer – these are the details I can’t recall. What I can remember is letting my romantic imagination run wild, whisked away on the wind it skipped and danced with the fireflies, as the gloaming’s quiet magic turned the sun from gold to red to dim.

I remarked very recently that we are never so kind as we are to people, places, and things that are gone and maybe when it comes to my grandmother’s house this is so. The last time I visited was just before it was sold and prior to then, I hadn’t been back for years. By the time I returned it was empty and all my grandmother’s belongings had been boxed up and stored away.

Standing in the hallway looking into bare rooms I thought
the house looked sad and frail – as though the cancer that took my grandmother had weakened its structure as well. I had hoped returning would help me remember my grandmother and the childhood days I spent there, but I was too late. My hopes of seeing the house one last time and preserving it pleasantly in my memory were gone.

People give up homes for various reasons. Sometimes the circumstances are in their control (such as making the choice to sell a house and move to a new one) and sometimes they aren’t (like in the case of a foreclosure, house fire, natural disaster, or death of the primary resident). Leaving a home can be very sad and emotional regardless of the reason.

Over the past few years, I’ve found myself grieving the loss of my grandmother’s house – both the physical place as well as the people and feelings associated with it – and I’ve often wondered what I could have done to find more meaningful closure. So, together with the help of our readers, here are suggestions for saying goodbye to a home and grieving places past.


Saying Goodbye to a Home:

  • Visit: If the place is not your primary residence, find an opportunity to visit one last time. Be prepared though, there’s a chance it will seem altered and different. Reader Tracy reflects, “…the home which once held lots of laughter, fun, insight, love, comfort & great memories of times well spent together….now was just a structure, a house.”
  • Document: Take photographs of different rooms and significant places.
  • Say a ceremonial goodbye: Kimberly, one of our readers, offers her experience, “Before we moved we shared, as a family, our favorite memories we had in the home. We then blessed and released the home to the new owners wishing for them all the good times & great memories we had.”
  • Have a photo shoot: Hire a photographer and have one last family photo shoot. For example, check out this touching father/daughter photo shoot.
  • Spend Time: Spend purposeful and meaningful time in the home. Reader Dawn suggests, “…taking time in each room and letting the memories come. Also placing your hands on the walls, doors, windows or special areas for as long as feels right.”
  • Leave your mark: Carve your initials in a tree, write a message in a door jam, make handprints in cement, or bury a time capsule in the backyard.
  • Care for it: Reader Susan shares her experience with a house she didn’t particularly love, “…when I knew that I’d be selling and moving from the place. I felt a sense of responsibility to actively love the home, by making it more lovely — painting, caring for the things that needed fixing so that the place would be infused with my blessing, and consequently, bless the new owners. I literally prayed that the family who bought the home would have years of happiness and peace there. I felt better about leaving the home, with my blessing, maybe because I had dealt with my conflicted feelings about the place. I felt free to love a new home then, with little looking back or regrets.”
  • Take something with you: Unearth a plant or tree to replant at your new location, take a brick out of the front pathway, unscrew a doorknob – go ahead and cause some destruction.

Grieving Places from the Past:

  • Visit: As awkward as knocking on a stranger’s door and asking to walk around their home may seem, revisiting a place that’s been sold to new owners can be kind of cool. The current inhabitants may get a kick out of hearing old stories about their home and it may make you feel better to know the house is being cared for an appreciated (if this is indeed the case). If the home is no longer standing, you can always revisit the lot – this has the potential to be kind of a bummer but maybe worth the visit nonetheless.
  • Reminisce: Talk about memories you had in the home, both with those who you shared the memories with and those you didn’t (maybe your kids or friends).
  • Create a Heritage Album: Document details of your past home(s) as a part of your family history. Here’s a book about crafting your own heritage album.
  • Collect photos and scrapbook: If your not quite ready to document your family history but want to remember the home, collect photos and create a few scrapbook pages. This is a good activity to do with kids.
  • Research the house: Here’s a guide detailing resources for researching architectural and historical facts about a house.
  • Create: Write a poem, essay, or song. Draw or paint a picture.

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42 Comments on "Saying Goodbye to a Home and Grieving Places Past"

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  1. Lorraine Campbell  April 18, 2021 at 8:50 pm Reply

    I am so grateful I found this site. My husband Paul got our land in 1988 he got a little trailer and lived in it by himself till 1990. We met. Three years later we got married. We had a home built in NC and sent to us in NJ in 1994. Three children and three grandbabies. Many many memories. In 2014 I lost Paul. His passing was and still is extremely tough. Well NOW on my own… Kid’s live out of state I was lost. Tried so hard to keep up with everything was doing ok. But then my well went sand in my whole water system. 6000 bucks and I couldn’t pay for everything for I’m on disability for PTSD and a fixed income. Couldn’t pay everything and one bill (property taxes) I got only 1800 behind and it went up for sheriff’s sale. Someone paid them and I lost it all. August of last year I had to leave. I was devastated. Moved to NC and lived in a tent for 7 months. In January 19. I moved to Florida. I do have a place but it’s high rent and barely making it. But as I sit in here I cry ALL the time and feel so depressed for losing my home. I continue to say sorry to Paul for losing his land. I’m going crazy not being in that home. Not being able to hang all the Christmas stockings on the mantle. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve cried all day today. Thank you for listening

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  2. Kimberly  April 9, 2021 at 4:14 am Reply

    I am getting ready to sell my home of 21 years, not by choice. I brought home 3 babies here and it’s the last place we saw my childs father alive before he passed away 5 yrs ago. It was my first home after I left my parents. It’s also the last place I visited my best friend who came to see my last born child before she moved and was killed. I’m honestly not sure if it’s the home or the loss of my bestfriend and my childs father and the home being my last connection to them that’s bothering me more. I’m sure knowing that I’m going to be moving in with my mother who needs me due to recent health issues is also troubling me. Dont get me wrong, helping her isn’t so much the problem as how she will treat me more like a kid in her home rather then a equal adult. I feel like part of me is losing my independence and my past life all in one. Anyways thanks to covid I have no choice to move now because I’m financially unstable right now and selling is my only chance. I just need to figure out how to get past the grief I feel and the anxiety. Thanks for reading this.

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  3. Jessica  March 21, 2021 at 3:35 pm Reply

    I am so glad I found this site. I sold My Home of 20 years 8 months ago and the sadness and daily grief has been harder than I ever expected. I raised my 2 kids there. We remodeled the kitchen just a few years ago. It was so beautiful. My kids loved it had their friends over all the time. Our home was 2800sqft, always filled with Friends, love, Everyone was so happy. It was near everything. I could get to Costco, Grocery store, Gas..Anything within 3minutes. Every single room had some touch of ours in it. I felt such love and purpose living there. I planted every tree, All the flowers, Painted every room and spent so much time playing with the neighborhood kids in the backyard watching my kids grow up. I knew all my neighbors who were my friends. My kids now 17 & 19 still live with us (COVID kept my oldest from going to college)
    My Father offered to sell us his 4unit that we’d been taking caring of for him for 5 years. The place needs some TLC and we agreed on a price In June 2020 we sold our home and moved into 1 of 1200sq ft units. We looked at the money aspect of Being able to pay off All our debt as I had medical bills from a Cancer Dx several years earlier and lost HealthIns. We didn’t think at all how moving to a new town, Going To Apartment living and A place 1/4 the size of our home with No Storage, Being 25 min away from Grocery stores, Kids away from friends..ALL the other things that meant so much to us would have such a deep affect On All of us mentally and physically. I’m mom, I’m suppose to uplift everyone and I’m so sad. Most days I can’t get out of bed. To top it off we don’t even own it yet so we can’t do any remodeling yet, Because even though We sold our home 8 months ago, But My dad Still hasn’t sold the 4 unit to me. He owns the property with No Mortgage and keeps telling me he’s talking to lawyers on what to do with the $$ from the sale so he doesn’t get it all taxed. We have gotten 3 different Mortgages for him that have expired, the market also went crazy and he realizes he’s losing some money. My Husband and I have been taking care of this place for 5 years for him for free as he’s 72 now. Now I’m paying rent Till he figures out what to do. What a mess, So many regrets I wanna puke. In the meantime I’ve realized Money isn’t everything, Happiness is. I was So very Happy At my Home, I wish I’d never of left, it meant everything to me and my kids. Please Anyone reading this, If you have doubts of moving. DONT. Cuz you can’t go back. It’s done and I’ve fallen into a depression like I never have, not even when I had Cancer. I just wanna go Home..Thanks for listening. Good luck to you All

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  4. Hope  December 26, 2020 at 7:09 pm Reply

    Dear all, I am so grateful for this feed for sharing grief. I am feeling extreme grief right now for the home my husband and I raised our sons in. We are due to leave in two weeks. We decided to sell because the neighborhood is not the same as it use to be; new neighbors are not kind, stay to their own, and loud trucks and traffic have made it difficult to enjoy living here anymore. Our oldest son and his wife made it clear they did not want children, and our youngest son did not care that we sold. Yesterday, for Christmas, our oldest told us they were expecting. My heart was so happy and sad at the same time. Ecstatic for our first grandchild and terribly sad because we will not be close to the expectant parents for frequent visits, teaching our grandchild to ride a bike in front of the house, how to swim in the pool, set up their bedroom for overnight stays in their dad’s old room, etc. I can’t stop crying and wish we had never made the decision to sell. We are moving to the country where it is quiet and much more peaceful, and have wonderful neighbors, including my brother. Although I know we are so blessed, my heart just can’t stop hurting for selling now that we have a grandchild on the way. How can I get past this grief? I want to be able to move on and be happy with what we cannot change. Does anyone have any advice and wisdom to share? My husband and I have looked forward to downsizing, moving to the country and building a small farmhouse, but I am feeling a terrible loss and don’ t know how to get past it. Thank you for all comments and advice.

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    • IsabelleS  December 28, 2020 at 1:40 pm Reply

      Hope, thank you for taking the time to comment and to share your story. I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through this. I hope this article has shown you how normal and valid it is to grieve the loss of a home. You may never “get past” this, but you will find a way to move forward. I recommend you check out this article: https://whatsyourgrief.com/grief-recovery-is-not-a-thing/ All the best to you and your husband.

  5. Marlynn  September 9, 2020 at 7:26 am Reply

    Reading this article and comments are helpful. Just sold my family home of 55 years. My parents moved us in when I was 18 months old and I moved in eith my brother when my daughter was 18 months old and stayed until she was 9 so we are borh losing the place of our childhood. I was there for 50 Christmas mornings. It was the one constant throughout my life as my Daddy told me you can always cone home. Mom passed on 2001 and Daddy in 2006. My brother was my Dad’s caregiver and stayed in the house after Daddy passed. My brother got sick this spring and I moved him to FL with me for summer planning to havenhim return this fall. House is in bad shape needing costly repairs, more than I can afford since I just built a home and closed in February. Then my brother got worse and Dr. said he shouldn’t live alone. From MemorIal day through Labor dsy I have been sorting and cleaning 55 years of things and it has been so hard. Down to last room and the last day and I am so tired. I was blessed to have this place, my place, my daughter’s place for do long. My comfort, security, my family home. As I realize that none of the people I shared this place with can ever walk through those doors again, I grieve my parents again, my gone childhood, my security and thank God that the money I received can be ised as a college fund for my daughter. I’m preparing for my last day with the house And years are flowing as I write this, but I am encouraged by the stories others have shared here. Thank you for proving a forum to share this real grief.

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  6. Jane  August 27, 2020 at 8:21 pm Reply

    Our childhood home is due to be sold in 2 weeks when everything is finalised and it’s breaking my heart.
    My Dad died 2 years ago and my mum has moved into assisted living accommodation so the house is to be sold to pay for my mums care.
    I was born in the house just over 50 years ago and its filled with fun memories, love and security.
    I didn’t think I’d feel so bad but I cant stop crying. I’ve sobbed reading everyone’s stories on here.
    My little safe haven is going and I’m left in this big bad world! I also feel quite stupid for getting so upset over a house!!!
    It will get better….won’t it??

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  7. Darline  August 24, 2020 at 3:51 pm Reply

    Hello,
    I live in the home that I was born and raised in, it was my grandparents home, it was the house on the block, (washington, DC). this house has be in my family for 65 years, our house was a safe haven for many friends in our neighborhood. For the past 7 yrs, I have been the caregiver for my aunt whom the house past down to after my grandparent passawy she pass in Jan. 2020. Now the house has pass down to me, I live in it, I love this house becuase its a part of me. However I am loney and afraid to stay in it by myself, it is way to big for one person. I want to sale but I am afraid of never be able to come back to see it again. I am 60 with no childrens and I was the caregiver for all the elders in my family, now I want to move on an enjoy the rest of my life while I can but I am so confuse about keeping the house of letting it go, I feel so guilty and depressed.

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  8. Karina Brampton  June 9, 2020 at 10:03 pm Reply

    Hello, I read the first story comment about someone’s grandmothers’ home. Some of the suggestions given here, I did, when in 2018, with the sale of my late mother’s home, and under very emotional and traumatic circumstances, I finally had to move. In the days and months prior to the sale and post the sale (2019), I spoke to the rooms of that little three bedroom fibro cottage, and told those rooms to be “brave” as I knew that the new owner wouldn’t be caring or loving or considerate as he was a developer. I caressed the cracks in the fibro walls, and considered every weathered area of the house, as it stood on a corner block all 765 square metres of it, including the land. I still am working through the grief and sadness of losing the house, and of losing a great deal of money from the sale of the house. For so long, I had wanted to be the mistress of my own home, but now, I rent a one bedroom unit in a retirement village, where I don’t own anything, just my own chattels etc. It does help though, to know there are many people who have experienced the sadness and loss and grief about leaving their home, where they have lived for a long time, where the familiar sounds of the day and the night cannot really be replicated in another house, but would have its own sounds and idiosyncrasies, My late mother’s home must have been built in the late 1950’s and we came there in 1961. That is a very long time to live in such a house. My mum had given me permission to live there as long as I wanted to. Other forces had other ideas.

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  9. Rebecca  May 20, 2020 at 12:49 am Reply

    I lost my husband 5 years ago and have been living with my parents. I am trying to clean out my house of all the stuff my husband left in an unknown storage unit. The house has has had plumbing problems since we moved in with two major water leaks. I have finally decided that I should probably move and build a new house with no problems. This decision is tearing me up. The thought of never being able to walk in the house we shared for 17 years is heartbreaking. I know I should be excited at getting to design my own house . This wouldn’t happen for at least a year or two and I need to do things while my parents are still in good health so they can help me but this just hurts. I hate that I can’t stay there. The maintenance is more than I can handle by myself.

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  10. Darlene Fos  May 9, 2020 at 12:33 am Reply

    I am so happy/relieved to have found this site. I am about to sell a home that has been a rental for the last 8 years. I lived in it first with my ex-husband. After we divorced, he left me to pay for everything and I did. I worked hard and sacrificed to get things paid on time. During this time (7 years), I found a very peaceful time. Just me and my two furry kids (dogs). I did so many upgrades myself. Got so handy I have quite the collection of tools. I did a lot of finding myself and growing up/healing. We are getting it ready to sell and I couldn’t shake this feeling. Something wasn’t right. This anxiety kind of depression feeling started to nap me.. A tightening in my stomach would begin when on the way there to fix it up.. Finally, I just popped and found myself weeping and I realized it was grief. Just all of a sudden I just started weeping and just let the tears from flow down my face onto my chest. I had some difficult times in this house but also lots of peace/happiness. Such freedom and peace. I had NO idea I would experience this but now see it is normal and real. it’s almost like I’m leaving someone. How weird is that. I’m glad I am feeling this so I can at least deal with it and get past it. Thank you for everyone who shared.

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  11. Emma  May 8, 2020 at 3:37 am Reply

    My grandmother passed the spring of my senior year of high school. That was just about 2 years ago now. She had moved to an assisted living facility but we had rented her house to help pay for her care. My family has had complications due to arguments over the family trust, but my mother is the one who is in charge of administering it. My aunt (who was the daughter in law), was made to inherit half of my grandmother’s trust and estate because my uncle took my grandmother in to sign paperwork while she wasn’t competent enough to do so. Her house meant the world to me, and I was hoping to maybe someday move in. The time has come where my aunt will not accept my parent’s offer to buy her share of the house, and we are about to put it on the market. I am devastated. It would be one thing to let the house go because we were unable to use it or cherish it, but for the reason of giving the house up to pay my aunt has hurt me immensely. I don’t know what I will do without knowing it is always there for me. I am thinking of going to take something to remember it by, but at this point after having renters there is not much left. I have a lamp that I always loved as a little girl and her piano, but it doesn’t feel right having these things without them being in their proper place.

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  12. Leif Harmsen  March 20, 2020 at 12:42 pm Reply

    I am just bawling. I sounds like a coyote howling. My parents are in a retirement home now, finally, but I am selling the farm (because I have a new house in other city with my husband that we’re renovating) . But I grew up here and did so much work here and it has always been the one place that is always our home. Everything every rock, every baseboard, evey corner in every barn, the crows, they’re all calling out to me begging me not to go. I feel so guilty. This house has been so good to me throughout all time. At one point it was my whole world, the known universe. My brain says sell. My heart is screaming for me not to. It hurts so much to keep this appointment. It feels so wrong. I just signed with selling agent today.

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    • Max  December 24, 2020 at 7:58 am Reply

      It’s possible I am the first man to post here. Not that should matter. I am grieving the loss of a home that I only lived in for 5 years. Even as I write, I feel the ridiculousness of this taking many of the other posts here into account. This was not my childhood home. But it was a beautiful home that I provided for my wife, my two little daughters, my mother in law, and my aunt. It was a Cape, with a pretty red roof, a nice multi-windowed home, a lovely family room with large windows, and a sliding glass door that opened to a garden. It was built in the 50s, custom built, with only the original owner to the title when we bought it in 2014. It’s been a couple of years since we had to move out, a result of losing my job. I have moments during which a memory of a room, or looking out a window, or even having to unclog the upstairs bath sink for the umpteenth time, bring me close to tears. I don’t get it, this sadness. My mom passed away many years ago. There was grief then. This here was a house, that compared to what others have shared here, I hardly ever lived in. Yet, each memory hits me in the pit of my stomach.
      Maybe it’s because we live in a tiny cramped 70’s ranch now. And my girls have to settle for less. I don’t know, it just really hurts. I wish I had tried harder to keep the home. That’s what it was, even though we lived a short time there, it was our home. I am 48, have a wonderful wife, and wonderful girls I adore immensely. So perhaps, cut my loss, and it’s time to move on.

  13. julie  February 14, 2020 at 3:17 am Reply

    I ran across this article and my heart almost stopped.I feel some consolation that there are others that are just as devastated as I am over losing a childhood home. Maybe I am not going crazy. I lost my dad January 2019. My mom passed away almost 20 years prior. I have a brother and sister who live out of town. My dad was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease only two years prior to his passing. I was the one sibling in town to take care of him.. My brother and sister thought I was overmedicating my dad and accused me of changing his will. I was the trustee of the estate. Nothing was changed. My brother and sister stoped all communication with me and on recommendations from the lawyer how had to step in and help settle the estate- when it came time to divide my dads estate three ways, he recommended I turn the house over to my brother and sister . For 20 years after my mom passed, I would stop by his house after work and discuss our day, I would help in the yard, we would sit on the roof and watch fireworks. He had been in that house for over 50 years. It was the house I grew up in. I was not allowed on the property when my brother and sister took possession of the home. Any of my possessions that remained in theme had to stay there , that was the agreement the lawyer had set up. They placed it on the market and sold it for a lot more that it was appraised for. I drove by it one day and a big dumpster was in the driveway and I could see that the inside was being gutted. I can no longer go by the house. I am devastated. I lost my dad, my brother and sister no longer communicate and the home I have known all my life is gone. Sometimes there are days when I do not know how to go on. I have my family, my husband and children but I am so mad at myself for not preparing for the future and save so I could have pruchached the home from my siblings. My husband says he would not have wanted to live in a home where my parents passed away, but it could have been a great home to remodel. I feel a little consolation that there are others out there that have the same despair over losing a family home. I keep thinking that there has to be some way I can get it back, or purchase it in the future. I wish there was some way I could stop thinking about it. I don’t think the pain of losing the house will ever go away. It always brings tears just thinking about it. Thank you for having a wonderful article. I really think that these feelings are something that are more prevalent in our society and are rarely discussed. My only hope is that time will lessen the sadness I have over losing my childhood home.

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  14. Amy  January 8, 2020 at 5:54 am Reply

    This spoke to me directly. I live in London, and I lost my grandmother in October. Exactly one month later her house burned down in the Australian bush fires. I have been preparing for her death since for what feels like my whole life so I have been handling that relatively well, but to have lost our home so suddenly and completely has rattled me. Just knowing it no longer exists along with her hurts. While I’m so grateful she didn’t see her home of over 70 years destroyed I feel like it was part of her, but a part that I would have at least in my mind. My thoughts of it are interrupted with the realisation it is all now ash.

  15. Nanci Harvey  June 21, 2019 at 6:18 pm Reply

    Every summer we went to the cottage on Lake of Bays. It was my moms sisters cottage but they had built a small one room cottage on the property. We went every weekend and for two weeks in the summer when my dad had his vacation. I had other uncles and aunts that had cottages very close by so all summer I was with family. I loved this cottage so much from the time I was a little baby all through the troubled teen years it was a refuge for me. I brought my own kids there too and showed them all the things I had done. I never thought that as my aunt and uncle that owned the cottage, would become to old to keep going the 2/12 hours from Toronto. It was the cottage it just was. So it came as a shock to hear that they were selling the land and cottages!!! Somehow as an adult I should have seen it coming by this time my aunt and uncle were in a retirement home! I grieve this place so much, I miss it in the way, I miss my mom and dad ,I guess it’s all mixed together. Hard to think of one without the other. My dad was a different person there as my mom was. I look at pictures and as much as I love the memories they hurt too! My kids won’t get to grow up there as I did.

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  16. Tiina M. Harris  June 11, 2019 at 9:55 am Reply

    Just sold the home my grandfather built on 34 acres. The most beautiful place I’ve ever known. I bought the home 13 year ago. After a painful divorce I stuck it out with my two children for ten years. My grandfather recently died at 100. He was one of those powerful forces that you never forget. He was father figure and one of my most favorite people in the world. He created this paradise for our family to visit year after year and I being the sentimental one bought it when he needed to downsize for my grandmother It’s about 20 minutes from my job which isn’t far but driving back and forth sometimes twice a day is tough. I thought by now I’d be remarried and sharing it with someone. The house had a hold on me. Don’t know how to describe it. My grandfather’s memory is everywhere. I closed on the house yesterday and he died two months ago. Two big losses in a short time. For me, my family history and identity are wrapped up in that beautiful place. At 50 it’s the only home I’ve known (I moved a lot as a child) and now I feel homeless (renting until I can find a house). Somehow turning 50 has become a critical point. I’ve watched my grandfather die and I know the brevity of life. What do I want the next 20-30 years if I am that fortunate. Is it the house and the property. Are there other adventures to had. The house takes all my resources. There are no trips, yoga classes or extra fun things I can afford. The house consumed me and the future work seemed overwhelming. I sold it with the intent to make more room for me but how is that possible when I just felt like I lost myself. Yesterday was so painful. Feel very alone.

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    • Sarah  October 16, 2019 at 4:50 pm Reply

      Hi Tiina,
      I see you and I feel for you. I also turned 50 this year and am now selling my home of 23 years. It is the only home I’ve been in my adult life, bought with my ex-husband (kept the house and the debt in the divorce…turns out that was not a good financial move). It was built in 1870 and I’ve lovingly renovated it. However, a few job changes require I sell now and face life anew, with no permanent home. I also feel lost.
      I am sorry for the loss of your family home and your grandfather. Hold tight to the memories that serve you well with us for our support and love. Take this opportunity to do new things for yourself. I also feel my house took all my resources and time. We will feel the loss for sure, but must remember to explore new freedoms in order to fully realize what we can gain through this transition. You sharing your story helped me, so thank you.

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  17. Lisa Provost  June 7, 2019 at 11:42 am Reply

    I’m just now seeing this article. I lost both of my parents in 2017, 6 weeks apart. I was their caregiver and I lived there in the apartment upstairs, in the house I grew up in. The house my grandfather built. We had to sell it this past year and it not only almost rendered me homeless but it was the last straw for me in a series of big losses. I had a nervous breakdown and I will never get over losing that home, never. I can’t even go back on that street to visit a relative, I can’t be that close to the house or look at it. I can never go and visit there, it’ll send me over the edge. I haven’t been doing well in every way since leaving my home so it was the straw that broke my back as far as I’m concerned. We tried everything for me to keep that house but it wasn’t possible.

    1
    • Sarah  October 16, 2019 at 4:55 pm Reply

      Lisa, I am sorry for the loss of your parents and the home your grandfather built. It is a lot to handle and I understand you feel the losses so deeply. Proud of you for carrying on and sharing your story. Thank you. Blessings,
      Sarah

  18. Eldavia  June 6, 2019 at 11:38 am Reply

    My husband died in October. Just as he was about to retire. We had built our dream home and acreage together from the ground up over the past 28 years. There were still projects he wanted to do when he retired. But this place is too big for me to handle by myself It’s a bit remote and the winters can be isolating. I decided even before he was gone that I would have to leave it. I love it enough not to want it to be neglected. Not that there is any guarantee that new owners will keep it up. So now I have a month left before I say goodbye. It’s all happening so fast. Selling off his things. The tools he used to build this place. The sporting goods he enjoyed. The car he cherished Erasing him piece by piece. I will spread some of his ashes here and try to share w new owners our story. Our names are stamped in the concrete . Looking at houses to move to is hard. None of them will ever be our home. Too busy and scared to let myself feel all there is too feel. Like his illness, It will hit me afterwards. Another big grief on its way.

    1
    • Sarah  October 16, 2019 at 4:58 pm Reply

      Eldavia,
      I am sorry for the loss of your husband. I hope that you are settling into a new place. It’s such a loss to lose a loved one, and the physical things and places we shared with our loved ones do hold such meaning. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you all the best.
      Sarah

  19. Tom  May 16, 2019 at 1:38 pm Reply

    While I agree about visiting old houses, be careful about it. My childhood home was completely gutted and practically rebuilt. My dad went to visit it and regretted it. He said he would have preferred to picture it the way it was.

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    • Tracey  November 15, 2020 at 9:02 am Reply

      Wise advice!

      “Never go back to a place where you have been happy. Until you do it remains alive for you. If you go back it will be destroyed.” – Agatha Christie

      “Never go back to the place where you were once happy, as much as your heart tells you to, do not do as it says”. – Rui Veloso

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      • Joy Hoffmann  May 13, 2021 at 11:03 am

        I bought a house on my own after the death of my husband.
        I remodeled it and it was perfect because it was a ranch and a perfect house in which to grow old.
        I remarried and moved to another city and rented the house.
        I still do not know why I decided to sell my house.
        But I did and have been in mourning as if I lost a dear friend.
        My second husband died and I moved back to where my house was located.
        It has now been valued at a huge amount that I can not afford even if it was for sale.
        I cry ant time I go near the neighborhood and every time I even think about how really self destructive I was to sell it
        I now live in a small condo which is nice but…I cannot bear the memories.
        I know I have to move on but the emotional pain is so real and difficult.
        I keep saying ,” it is just a thing”

  20. Cadfan.  April 5, 2019 at 5:31 pm Reply

    We had a lovely home . A beautiful huge garden at the back. A biggish garden at the front. An ex council home, we had to do it uIp. It included putting in a bathroom. I loved every inch of it. Each plant was planted. Each wall painted/renovated or re done in some way. We left because of lots of reasons including health, but mainly due to community issues which became difficult for my husband to cope with. It was the first house I ever felt a part of. I miss it so much. It isn’t worth leaving a house you love if you can help it. I didn’t expect to grieve for a home, like I am now.

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  21. Deb R  March 12, 2019 at 11:22 am Reply

    I realized that losing my home to bank fraud back in 2011 has really messed with my ability to feel safe. Everything about saving for 10 years and losing it to unethical business practices has led me to be to scared to ever love a home again. I realized I still hate Chase bank as I read your article. I hate the legal system for giving them a slap on the wrist and allowing such pitiful compensation to happen that I and 1000’s of others didn’t even get half of my down payment back. How do you heal when you can’t have a place of your own or that anyone can and will take it at any time? That loss wiped me out so completely that I am too tired and too old to rebuild, so I just rent until I die. I even used my small retirement savings to try to save my house. Sometimes I wonder if living in my car would feel safer because at least I own that. I grieve my home.

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    • Pat  November 2, 2019 at 10:20 pm Reply

      I am so sorry for your loss of your home, and more importantly, your loss of hope for the future. I lost my dream farm a few weeks ago. It sold at a foreclosure auction for pennies on the dollar. I am renting now. I feel the trauma, it’s kind of a shell shock, and I know I have much grieving left to do. But I have hope. I have a plan to build my credit back and buy another home within 2 years. But I need a few things from the new place. I need to be able to pay it off in 10 years, and I am 60 now. When I turn 70 I can get my full social security. And all I want to be paying for my home by then will be the property taxes. It’s a tall order, but here in Vermont it can be done because properties can be had for very little money if you choose carefully. I mention all this because I hope my personal hope for the future might be shared with you a little. I feel bad that you are giving up on your dream. Please don’t give up, research options, pull up the Multiple Listing Service and look at houses. What’s out there that is small, or maybe a mobile, or a duplex so the renter covers the mortgage. And maybe you have looked at it from every angle. But my wish for you is to keep looking and eventually find something with a low enough price and low enough property taxes. I don’t know you, but that is my wish for you. I’m starting over at 59. But I still have hope. Best wishes to you.

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  22. Jennifer Parker  May 15, 2018 at 2:32 pm Reply

    My parents left one of the houses out family lived in for some years. Though it wasn’t where I spent my childhood, I’ve been badly grieving the loss of this house. The circumstances are not ideal. My parents moved to a different state and left the old house for sale. Irresponsibly my father is choosing to let the house foreclose and myself and my siblings arent able to buy the home. Additionally I live across the country and am not able to visit the house before it is confiscated by the bank. AND there is a basement filled with remnants of the past.

  23. Jennifer Parker  May 15, 2018 at 2:32 pm Reply

    My parents left one of the houses out family lived in for some years. Though it wasn’t where I spent my childhood, I’ve been badly grieving the loss of this house. The circumstances are not ideal. My parents moved to a different state and left the old house for sale. Irresponsibly my father is choosing to let the house foreclose and myself and my siblings arent able to buy the home. Additionally I live across the country and am not able to visit the house before it is confiscated by the bank. AND there is a basement filled with remnants of the past.

  24. Melinda  October 25, 2016 at 2:06 pm Reply

    Wow, this makes me so sad. My stepfather chose to sell the home that I spent most of my most important years in and I’m still grieving the loss, especially since the new owners (who have only lived there for a year) have now decided to sell it again. When I recently saw “Pending Sale” on a website showing my home, I wanted to cry.

    I miss so many things about it, although I was unhappy when I actually lived in it, due to my stepfather’s abuse.
    But it was still a beautiful home with a lot of charm. I miss looking up at the stars in the night sky with my mother; I miss the old-fashioned beauty of the house itself. I feel like once again, something special has been taken away from me and I’ll never be able to replace it.

    I’ve seen a lot of the same tips about taking pictures, items, etc. to preserve memories…but what can you do if you are unable to do that?
    My former home is in a gated community and I’m not sure I will be able to ever see it again, let alone do any of those things.
    I wasn’t able to do it before the home was sold in 2014 either. I already suffer from depression and this is just another blow.

  25. Kim  January 16, 2016 at 8:46 am Reply

    My father passed away in October 2014 and I have spent the past year cleaning out his home, which was also his parents home…its been in our family for over 80 years. It was not possible to keep the home as there are other family members involved. It was cathartic in a way, but also very painful. Finding long hidden treasures of my grandmothers, seeing the pencil notches on the wall, marking the heights of the children and grandchildren, recalling the stretchy cheese sandwiches and lemon lettuce my grandmother would make for my cousin and I each summer we visited. Letters that have been filed away for decades, old technology that kept the front rom in a time warp of sorts. My dad changed very little in his parents farm house…

    I just signed the papers this past week to sell the home, and while I have a sense of relief that it’s done, I will forever be sad that we were unable to keep the old, 1920s farmhouse that was a huge part of not only my childhood, but many many others who spent time at The Pardi’s… My husband took many photographs over the past year of the home and just recently shared them with me.

    No matter how far I may travel from Boulder Colorado, there will always be a part of my heart at 1503 Cedar Avenue…

    https://pardihistory.com/1503-cedar-after-larry/

  26. Tracy  January 16, 2016 at 1:02 am Reply

    I have a torn heart. I have a wee place of my own now for a year and through difficult circumstances, losing my dad, the horrid actions of his partner throwing away/giving away his belongings without asking or consideration of me or my family… I am now in the position of owning his house. I love it, he worked so hard to have this nice home and we shared many good memories, as well in the latter months some bad ones that had to do with her, not my dad. So it is empty, hollow now, a house without a soul. Everywhere I look in this cavernous house I see & hear my dad. It hurts to know he won’t come back to it or to me. I need to make a decision as I can’t keep both. I wonder if I furnish it, put in my personal things along with the few of his that I do have I will feel better about it? Maybe I will find some peace and feel connected instead of so disconnected? A move is required, so is a lifestyle change as it is more in the suburbs with nature than the busy city? Think I’m having a mid life crisis!

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    • Melinda  October 25, 2016 at 2:26 pm Reply

      Hi Tracy,

      I know you wrote your comment months ago but I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry for the loss of your father.
      I think you should do what feels right to you, if you haven’t made the decision already.
      Only you can determine what will make you feel better. Your idea about moving into the old house and decorating it sounds great! I wish I could do the same with my former home, so you are lucky in that sense.

      And I can relate to the bit about disliking your dad’s partner, because I feel that way about my mother’s husband.
      He is not a nice person and I believe he will do the same thing with my mom’s things someday if she dies before he does. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself. It is never easy when our parents choose selfish partners, but it happens.

      One more thought…although your dad is no longer with you, he really is all around you. His spirit is still there and I’m sure he would want you to be happy no matter what.

      • Tracy  September 10, 2019 at 2:45 am

        Ah Melinda, thank you for the lovely message. I stumbled across this article once again and have read the most recent comments and found my own words and yours. I am slowly redecorating, though a weird sense of guilt comes over me, as though I shouldn’t be, it is hard to describe, guilt I guess?……If you happen to stumble on the article again, I can only encourage you to talk to your mom about what is precious to you, how you want to remember her etc before her husband takes control. I wish I had, but it so difficult to bring up such a sensitive topic especially about possessions as it seems so materialistic, but sometimes, it really is the little things that matter the most, that are insignificant to someone else that we treasure most.

  27. Anonymous  January 15, 2016 at 11:27 am Reply

    I am definitely going through this right now. I inherited my dad and step mother’s home. They lived there for a significant amount of time and put a lot of hard work and effort into it. I never lived there with them and I don’t feel that sort of attachment to the house. My half- siblings grew up there and it was in their mother’s family passed down from their grandmother. So there is history there. Complicated to explain as to how it was left to me, and even more complicated comes the emotions of settling an estate. The house was not the same without my dad or step mom being there. I felt wrong being there without them. I am grieving the loss of them which I feel I am at peace with as much as I can be. I am having a harder time letting go of their belongings which feels like letting them go piece by piece. It’s overwhelming. I am pretty much on my own with this as my family has fallen apart since they day they died. The home is not geographically close to me, being an hour and a half away. I will be moving across the country in a month. I have given family members who have still been in contact with me items they have wanted and I think having an auction is the next step once I remove the items I want. It would be too painful for me to see each item go one by one. It’s time to move forward, and thank goodness I’ve been able to do it on my own time frame. I am thankful they left the home to me, but it does not suit my needs at this point in my life. I’ve spent a lot of time there and it has been peaceful and painful at the same time. It’s a completely different vibe from when they lived there. Every time I go there I feel like I keep picking at a scab it has taken longer to heal.

  28. Edna  November 18, 2015 at 1:44 pm Reply

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