• Designing Moves

Dismantling the Nest

My thoughts on the emotional impact of senior moves.


After settling Mr. and Mrs. Jones into their new home, we made our way back to their former residence to continue liquidation of the items left behind. Often the most trivial things in this world grab my attention, and they are sometimes the hardest to handle.

On shelves in the sun room sat a unique collection of birds, bird houses, and a bird nest. I really didn't want to break up this beautiful display, but our job includes emptying the former home to prepare for the new owners. I removed the bird houses, then the birds, and finally went for the nest. It was so fragile and so beautifully made! Layers of paper-thin leaves placed just so, twigs and other small materials all woven so carefully to make it perfectly round and deep. I held it in my hands - I just couldn’t bring myself to throw it into the trash. I decided to put it into a plastic bag, but as I did the nest began to disintegrate. Small, delicate pieces of leaf and debris broke away and collected at the bottom of the bag. Suddenly I thought of my dear clients and the work and love that went into making this house a home. Years of collecting things, many items left over from past seasons of life: pictures, papers, and awards from the kids; the vase that graced the top of the buffet just right; the colorful pillows and rugs that welcomed guests into the living room; remnants of past hobbies; etc. In only a few short weeks this home had been dismantled and like the disturbed nest, crumbs and debris surfaced. Things suddenly looked worn, chipped, broken, and sun-faded. The nest had changed. All that was once carefully placed with purpose was sifted out to find what was of value. What remained would be donated or discarded.


Small, delicate pieces of leaf and debris broke away and collected at the bottom of the bag. Suddenly I thought of my dear clients and the work and love that went into making this house a home.

There is no escaping dismantling the nest - it has to be done. Otherwise, the beloved nest becomes a burden to the rest of the family. You don't have to miss out on saying a fond "good bye" to the treasures you have enjoyed. Relive the story one more time: hold the souvenir from the summer vacation; remember the shop where you found that lovely chipped tea cup. Your stories will live on.


Dismantling the nest is for the brave. It is hard, often emotional work. It is laughter and tears. It is also new stories of how pieces of the nest blessed someone else in need. I cherish being a part of all of it, cheerleading alongside our clients, showing them the way, finding the resources, and putting together a new, more manageable nest to help them enjoy the next chapter of life.


Copyright 2013 by Christine E. Smart



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642 10th St. #200, Marion, Iowa 52302

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