One challenging aspect of a disruptive change like relocating your life and business to a new city is that you lose much of what constitutes a normal existence. Before I moved from Northern to Central Virginia, I did not have to think much about where to buy gas, how to scout the best deal on groceries or who would cut my hair. All that was upended once I moved.
Although I try to embrace the new in my life, all new is frustrating, at times scary, and stressful. And yes, I did grieve losing my long-term haunts such as my local library and rec center. At times, my sense of loss became overwhelming and I became paralyzed by the daunting task of recreating 30 years of place.
One day I decided to deep dive into my misery. Rather than deny what was left behind, I took a few hours and wallowed in my loss by creating a list of everything I was leaving behind, from big to trivial. My goal was to capture the loss while it was still fresh in my mind and not forgotten amid the millions of things on the to-do list.
Some of the losses I mourned included:
- A great yoga studio that I attended weekly for more than six years
- A community pool that kept me moving and active
- Endless parks with hiking trails that brought up memories of past outings
- A fabulous public library system which gave me intellectual stimulation
- A community theatre troupe whose performances fed my creative soul
- A faith community that I attended for more than 30 years
The list took up two pages in my journal and at the end of writing it, I felt a real sense of relief. My losses were not gone but had been captured and preserved in print. I could return to this list when feeling sad for my old life and actively look to re-establish a new version of what I missed in my new location.
One unexpected result of my Loss List: when reviewing it weeks into my new town, I realized that I did not need that same experience in my new life. My life now is different from the life I led before the move and the urgency to have that experience has lessened, being replaced by a new set of experiences.
The change experience for you may not be as uprooting as a move to a new town but it still engenders a sense of loss for you. Don’t ignore loss, push it away, tell yourself to “navigate through it.” Jump into the swamp of grief with two feet. Make your Loss List and use it as a planning tool to reach the other side. Much more cathartic and productive.