I was recently contacted by a writer from national newspaper who was looking for people to talk to who had downsized. The journalist wanted a pulse on the regrets, the advantages, stories that would help others as they face downsizing for financial reasons.
As I visited with a few clients about their thoughts on downsizing, one client pointed out it wasn’t the things she parted with that was hard to deal with it was the loss of vitality. It was harder to come to terms with getting older than it was to let go of the stuff that had accumulated over the years.
The more I thought of her reflections on downsizing the more I realized that our clients often tell us “we don’t miss a thing” after moving. It’s certainly hard to sort through decades of belongings and treasures and cull out the best. People get tired, anxious, emotional, overwhelmed and fearful they will part with something they will want later. Some will do anything they can to avoid the sorting and decision making to the last minute. Now, I’m starting to consider that it isn’t the “stuff” they are indecisive about as much as trying to avoid facing the loss of control over the aging process. I believe it’s a grieving of the loss of youthfulness and total independence that disables people from moving forward in their downsizing process. Life is changing and there is no way to stop it.
My advice: accept that downsizing is a very difficult process, find supportive people to help you, take some time to really think about what you are feeling and give yourself permission to grieve the changes you are facing. The encouraging news is that we love seeing our clients a few months after their moves and finding them happy, enjoying new activities, volunteering, and they often tell us to stop by and pick up a few more things they’ve decided to part with.