Moving into Grief
I am in the middle of moving, over Christmas, with a one-year-old baby, and I don’t wanna. I mean, I do—it is an amazing gift to our family to be able to move from our cramped townhouse into a beautiful house with a huge yard for our very active son to play in. We are thrilled and I want to cry. There are many reasons for this. First, moving is just hard—regardless of your circumstances. It is laborious, tedious, expensive, and fraught with details that would drive anyone mad. Second, it means change—deep change. And for those of us who like comfort and routine, this change can be undoing to the core.
For me it goes even further, I grew up a military kid and I moved every two to three years for the majority of my life. No place really felt like home and moving was just part of life. I was always imagining where we would go next, never attaching or settling into where we were living in the moment. This pattern continued through most of my adult life until 2007 when I bought my first home in Seattle. For the first time I painted, bought furniture and appliances, and made my permanent address a house of my own. I settled into my life, my neighborhood, my walking paths, my coffee shops, and allowed my feet to sink into the soil. I felt like I was home and it was lovely, safe, and comforting. My home has represented a shift from a nomadic wandering to a heart rooted in community and routine. I became attached—and it is no surprise that during this time I sunk into career and calling, rescued a dog, got married, and had a baby.
Being rooted allowed me to find the places of my heart that had been inaccessible while always looking to the next adventure to dull the disconnected fragments of my life. In that state of disconnectedness, moving was easy because I was detached and never felt the pain of upheaval. As I have allowed my roots to grow deep in this house and neighborhood a sort of healing has taken place. And up till this moment, I have been so grateful. But now I am moving again to a house in which our family can grow and flourish and I am heartbroken having to feel the pain for the first time of being dislodged from my home.
Sometimes healing is a double-edged sword. Now I can’t escape the pain of change or the suffering of being uprooted. I can’t choose to just turn it off and buckle up my emotions in order to pack, paint and clean. I am now connected to these sweet roots and must grieve the loss of my beautiful little townhouse tucked behind a fast-food chain where I can hear sirens all day and all night. I must grieve the fact that I have to go to a different grocery store and get to know a new neighborhood. My daily walks will be on a different path and I will have to say goodbye to my local coffee shop baristas. I have spent so much of my life avoiding this suffering and avoiding saying goodbye, but to honor the goodness that this house has brought me, I must suffer the loss.
As I suffer the loss, new roots will be able to grow and my heart will be open to my new life. It is a strange dichotomy to know I have to grieve and suffer loss in order to find new life. My instinct is to cover my eyes, ignore the heartache and focus on decorating my new space in my mind. But instead, I must welcome my sorrow and sit and stare at my empty walls with boxes stacked to the ceiling and smile with tears at the memories that are stirred. I must stand in my doorway with my little boy in my arms, my husband by my side and my dog circling our feet, take a deep breath, let the tears come and say goodbye to my first home.
Cathy Loerzel is the VP of Advancement of The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and the Executive Director of The Allender Center. Cathy received her MA in Counseling Psychology from The Seattle School in 2007 and has been working with the school since graduation. She created The Allender Center along side of Dr. Allender and continues to invest as a teacher, group facilitator, and curriculum designer at the center. She also helped build The Seattle School Forum and The Leadership in the New Parish Certificate. Cathy is married to a local therapist, has a beautiful one-year-old son, and sweet old dog named Gizmo.