Moving Forward After Loss: How Families Can Heal and Thrive in a New Environment

Losing a loved one can be a pretty turbulent experience. For some families, navigating the grieving process can be complicated by always being surrounded by the environment they live in. There might be locations that represent negative memories surrounding the death or perhaps it just doesn’t feel like home anymore. One solution to this is to seek a fresh start by moving to a new area.

If you choose to do this, it can be a positive influence on your family’s healing journey. It’s important to understand that there can be some common challenges along the way. You’re juggling moving house with grieving. By taking the time to understand these hurdles and taking steps to overcome them, you can make the most positive fresh start for everyone involved.

Navigating Moving Challenges

Moving to a new location is generally regarded as one of the most stressful things people can experience. Grief might add a layer of difficulty to this. This isn’t necessarily a reason to change your plans, but it’s vital to prepare in a way that helps you navigate both moving and grief-related challenges.

It’s often helpful to think beyond the practical logistics of moving and make plans that are also related to the resources your family may need. When choosing a new town or city, you should already be researching elements such as climate, home prices, and the amenities in the area. You could identify what support resources—grief groups and counseling services, among others—can ensure your family has any help they need immediately on arrival.

Even looking at whether a location is the type of environment that might be most healing for your family following a loss is wise, too. Do they need peace and quiet or do you think you’ll all benefit from a lot of activity?

Another of the challenges of moving can be leaving behind the home that you might have shared with your passed loved one. Alongside the stress of relocating, knowing that you’re spending the final weeks, days, or hours in that space can be an emotionally charged experience. You can also give your family time to simply be with the space before locking the doors for the last time. Hiring a moving company so you can focus on just being together rather than packing and emptying the home can reduce the stress of the situation. Share a few memories with one another and tend to your emotional needs.

Spending Meaningful Time Together

Starting afresh in a new space can be great. However, there also tends to be a huge amount of activity going on even in the weeks and months after you’ve arrived. You may be getting settled in a new job, your kids might be starting in new schools, and even getting unpacked can take a while. As a result, it’s easy to overlook spending meaningful time together as a family, offering mutual support, or maintaining the closeness that helps you all heal through grief.

It’s well worth scheduling in periods of togetherness, at least in the beginning. Some ideas for quality family time in your new environment could include:

  • Yard games: Playing as a family in the yard is a simple way to have fun regularly. You could play badminton, set up obstacle courses, and hula hoop to music. This is a good opportunity to chat casually about each other’s feelings while enjoying the surroundings of your new space.
  • Exploring the neighborhood: Walking or cycling around your new neighborhood is a great way to discover the area. You can go to local coffee shops or check out local art galleries. This can help you move forward from the experience of grief together and build new memories or fresh routines that are healthy habits to form.

While quality time together is important, it’s important not to overwhelm one another. Grieving can be an individual experience and each member of your family is also likely to need quiet time alone to explore their feelings. Keep communicating with one another to recognize whether it's best to do an activity or just have a little personal time.

Developing and Maintaining Support

As a family starting a new part of your lives together, you will usually be one another’s key points of support. You understand what one another is going through and—hopefully—are close enough to provide help. Sometimes it’s good to have support from outside your immediate unit as well. It allows you to share difficult feelings or hear different perspectives as you heal. Take the time to help one another to find, develop, and maintain support networks.

This can begin with the aforementioned grief counselors and groups. It can also include the new friends each of you makes in your new space. Encourage your kids to build relationships at school or extracurricular activities and open up as they start to build trust. You could also connect with people you work with, or seek out people that may have had similar experiences of loss. Friendship should always be a priority here. These connections aren’t sources of support but can continue being positive influences in your life as you move forward.

It might also be wise to maintain connections with supportive friends and family in your old location. While you’re in a fresh environment, your shared relationships with your passed loved one and the history you’ve had together can still be important. You could have regular video calls and plan vacations that are a positive influence in your and your family’s grieving journey.

Wrapping Up

Moving while grieving can be challenging, but it can also be the start of a wonderful new chapter in your family’s lives. Plan ahead for finding support resources and aim to be patient with one another while moving. Remember that this isn’t necessarily a way to distance yourself from the memories of your passed loved one. Rather, it's an opportunity to move forward as a family in positive and enriching ways.

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