Monday, April 20, 2015

The Five Stages of Packing Grief

This from Lena:

I have an undergrad in psychology, but that is not how I have learned this lesson.  I am actually not a mover by nature or choice.  I am what I would call a long-term nester--so much so that when I was dating Bill,  I was concerned that he might uproot me periodically (he moved several times a year in his childhood).  As it turns out, he actually did very little of that--only a reasonable amount--but God moved us into an international life that has shaken me loose of many nests.  I am actually really glad that it has taught me that I can be happy in lots of different places, that it can be fun to discover the joys of a new spot, and that I can generally survive.

However, it HAS wreaked havoc on my nerves.  I try to keep these lessons close, and I have been laughing at myself a lot lately (mostly because I am still in the shock phase).  These stages of grief are actually fairly accurate, and some of the images I paint are actual memories.  For anyone of you about to go through this or have experienced it, I hope that at the least it gives you a laugh!

So--here they are.  The five stages of packing grief:

Shock- In this stage, you walk around saying that you can't believe you are really leaving. Somehow you relaxed, painted, added touches--made it your own.  But now it is becoming real that you will have to bundle up your tender roots and put it into storage or haul it somewhere.  Either way, it is going to involve a LOT of packing tape and cardboard, and you have vivid memories of the chaos it has been in the past.  You shake off the nagging fear that it is going to go exactly like the last move, when you woke up every morning three weeks before the move, completely wired and rightfully concerned that you were going to drop a very big ball of packing tape.  You square your shoulders and begin to survey the territory.  You consider color coding the rooms, plan your box log system (complete with list of the contents of every box).  You can feel it.  No nerve-wracking last-minutes this time.  A little here, a little there, and we will take this bad boy out.  During the last week, you will be reminiscing with friends, having rich moments of connection over coffee.

Anger- What in the world!  You have been trying to pack all the un-necessaries in ONE bedroom for TWO WEEKS!  GET OVER IT, WOMAN! IT'S A DUPLO SET, NOT GOLD BRICKS!  GET RID OF IT!  And don't even try that, "It's for the grandchildren" business.  Not working.

Depression-Time is running short.  You wake up with packing tape in your hair, and are weeping openly now, because you can't get the bunk beds apart.  Two weeks out and you are starting to get that glazed-over look.  You consider an emergency phone call to that one friend who you know will clean your refrigerator and it will be done before you had time to worry about it.  You are in the pit, and need a hand up. Bad.

Acceptance- You call out the cavalry, and your band of faithfuls show up.  There are teenagers in your kitchen, duping all your cooking utensils into plastic bins and stacking unwrapped coffee mugs on top, then sitting on it to make it close.  You walk into another room, thankful that at least someone else is doing it.  You hug your friends, and somehow manage to get those special moments in anyway, even though you haven't showered in three days.  You pick your toddlers up from the neighbor's house as you leave (in Peru, with a taxi), who thought your kids looked like they needed a bath and cleaned them.  You cry in the taxi, unsure if it is mostly the because you are sad to leave or just relieved it is over.  You know it isn't perfect, but neither is the rest of life, so--hey, not so  bad.


Bill and Lena Shrader said...

Then you land in another country and do it all in reverse.

Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing, I have 6 weeks to sell most of our stuff, store some and pack the rest. And we have vacation and network conference in the middle. Fun times!