I sold my house just after the three-year point following my loss. If you’re selling due to loss, you need to know it’s part of the journey. Not always. But oftentimes. I have lived in this house for seventeen years, fourteen years with Kim. I went through her clothing at the end of the first year. Now, moving three years after loss requires you to look in nooks and crannies. No proverbial stone left unturned. Closets. Drawers. Attic. Shed. Under beds. Boxes. Boxes everywhere.
“Packing up the dreams God planted in the fertile soil of you…” Michael W. and Deborah Smith, “Friends are Friends Forever”
It wasn’t brutal in the emotional sense. Sure, it was at times. I came across a journal where Kim recorded her initial thoughts of me after we were beginning to get to know each other. Of interest was one comment I read where she stated, “Maybe I’ll marry him. Maybe I won’t.” I was obviously not a slam dunk. However, poring over all these items hasn’t been like cleaning out Kim’s clothing that first year.
However, it’s brutal because it is a lot of work. The initial pass through the mountain of stuff is a job you must do alone. Loss comes later in life and so do body aches. Sore muscles reflect the soreness of the soul. It’s brutal because you’re ending a long journey through loss.
“…means a chapter in your life is through…” Michael W. and Deborah Smith, “Friends are Friends Forever”
Selling a house is so final. It brings a chapter or a period to an emphatic close. Painful. Even if you know you’re starting a new chapter, it’s a significant step. In my case, I’m cleaning out so I can move to my new house with my soon-to-be wife. As I write this entry, I’m within 1,442,100 seconds (just under seventeen days) of my upcoming wedding. But who’s counting? So, I have a happy chapter about to begin.
However, it doesn’t erase the past. It doesn’t require you—or even allow you—to ignore the past. And it’s not healthy to attempt to ignore or bury your history.
And what a history lies hidden on every shelf and in every drawer. A history of dreams and memories lies beneath the surface waiting to be discovered. It’s amazing the things we keep. And what a story those hidden items tell.
Pictures. Handwritten notes. School reports from every grade, including college. Books from every era of childhood. VHS tapes. Cassette tapes. DVDs. CDs. Pictures—pictures in almost every drawer. Clothing. School projects. Wedding notes and plans for children. Files. Cords that go to who knows what! Furniture. Toys. Pictures. Baby blankets. Medicines. Decorations. Prized possessions from every trip ever taken.
It almost seems sacred.
“Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set.” Proverbs 22:28
While the things you come across are not the people in our family, the things point to the interests, accomplishments, events, and years of the people in our family. Again, it’s almost sacred.
Especially when it comes to those possessions of the one lost. A note they wrote. A journal. Favorite items. The memories they kept.
Maybe these things are not sacred, but they are important to work through. Packing up dreams and memories can be a part of healing. You can celebrate the gifts as you pack up the memories. The hardest part of this task is determining what is kept, what is given away, and what is thrown away. And so, it feels disrespectful to hurriedly walk through the numerous items. And yet, it’s a job that must be completed.
When it’s time to sell the house, it’s time to process the things in your house. It’s time to appropriately address the things in your house without letting the things in your house own or paralyze you.
As Michael W. and Deborah D. Smith wrote in “Friends are Friends Forever,” “…our hearts in big and small ways will keep the love…” As you pack up the things in your house, keep the memories of love and the eternal treasures.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20