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Hi everyone

Well, here's something I know we have all been told not to do the first year after losing out spouse. Do not make any major changes!  I am exactly 6 months out from losing Rick as of yesterday.   Did I listen? Sort of.  I was scrolling through newsfeeds, and  a Kipplinger   'Best Places to Retire' came up. ( I'm 61)  I nonchalantly snooped, and found to my surprise, there are several wonderful places out there in the real world that are affordable on a fixed income!. My Rick was so happy on 'our mountain' in the Sierras, after growing up and living in cramped England his whole life, that we never thought about moving elsewhere. But I started down the thought process of 'hey, I don't have to wait till I'm 66 1/2 to retire and get my SS if I can find a less expensive place than California!'  (MOST places are less expensive). I then looked up home prices in South Carolina, and I was really impressed. Then I started seeing what home prices in my area are going for......not great. I've been working on getting 4 years of deferred maintenance done on the house and yard. 7 huge pines have been taken out. Next up is minor repairs inside and out, then getting the wood floors refinished,  then painting inside and out.  I then started thinking, OK, I can DO this!!!  I can make a new life for myself!  I don't have to do this stressful job for peanuts anymore! I have no children, and the only family I have left is my wonderful sister, and niece, but they are both a 10 and 6 hour drive respectively. Hey, I have no ties!

It then hit like a lightening bolt!!!   HOW could I think of moving out of the house that he build with his own blood sweat and tears, and that we spend 13 1/2 glorious years together  in ? HOW could I ever move on without feeling like I'd be abandoning his memory and not honoring his love for our 'little piece of heaven'?  HOW could I ever be happy anywhere, because he's not there, but he's not here anymore either.

Pretty soon I was in a hot, crying mess, and was having an anxiety attack, complete with  the tightening of the chest, which I only had in the first month of my intense grief. I think I just need to heed that advice and NOT think about making any major changes!!!!

I know several of you all have been able to move, but my question is..........HOW did you do it???

Thanks for letting me vent, and I welcome all suggestions

Peace to All

Steph

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Replies to This Discussion

I waited the 2 yrs before moving. But did you know you have the option at age 60+ to start taking your spouse's SSI if it is more than yours. You cannot get both. But you can get your spouse's now...if you were married at least 10 yr.

Hi, Shoosie:  Well, first of all, you don't just pick a place based on price from a Kiplinger article.  There are lots of places that are really cheap to live, but I couldn't live in most of them.

Second of all, you don't do it this soon.  A big move requires a lot of soul-searching and getting to know yourself.  Many of us lose part of ourselves when we're married, but even if we don't, we're handed this blank slate that we didn't want, but we have to find a way to write a new future on it.  So in the interest of getting to know yourself, think about the following questions (for example):

1)  Do I want to be near family?

2)  Can I handle year-round extreme heat and/or humidity?  Extreme cold in the winter?  What kind of climate am I looking for?

3)  What kind of activities would interest me?  Am I outdoorsy?  Do I need places to hike and kayak?  Am I more of an "indoor girl" in need of cultural activities like art museums, theatres, live music?

4)  Urban?  Rural?  Suburban?

5)  Would I like to be in a college town?

6)  Would I prefer an area with good public transportation?  Walkable?  Am I OK with driving everywhere?

7)  Rent or buy?  Do I want to deal with upkeep?

8)  Single-family house?  one-story or two?  Condo?  Townhouse?  What amenities do I want?

9)  If I want to work part time, are there job opportunities for me?

10) Is there a state income tax?  Sales tax?  Does the state tax Social Security benefits?

Here's the cold hard truth:  Rick isn't there anymore.  And his energy can move with you.  Trust me on this one.  He would not want you slaving away at a job you dislike just to stay in your house.  

Like you, I fixed up my house to sell.  I had 18 years of direly needed remodeling to do in order for my house to not be a tear-down.  With life insurance proceeds, I was able to do it.  Now I knew where I was going to go.  I had been visiting my sister for 13 years in North Carolina and I knew that was where I wanted to be.  There are two major universities, a rich cultural life, a lot of old hippies, tons of things to do.  Homes that are more affordable than in NJ where I used to live, and lower property taxes.  And oh yeah, my sister is a realtor and I fell in love with one of her listings.

Originally I'd planned to live in my remodeled house till retirement.  But I found that even after the remodeling, I simply could not handle being upstairs, because that is where my husband had the stroke and seizures that killed him two weeks later.  The energy up there was so bad and no amount of paint or new flooring or new bathroom could fix it.  I had to leave.  Then I had a neighbor who was bullying me because I was friendly with his ex-wife, and I knew it was time to go.

It is now 2-1/2 years later and I love it here.  I did not attach myself to my sister's life and friends, though I do know some of her friends and am friendly (though not close friends) with some of them.  But I've found my own tribe.  I'm in a neighborhood book club, I've made a number of good friends, and yes, I finally retired at 62, taking my survivor benefit, after working remotely at the same job for the first two years.  You can do this too, if it is close to or more than what your own Social Security would be.  It's called a restricted application and it allows you to get (at age 60) 71.5% of your husband's full Social Security while letting your own continue to grow.

Tonight I will sit on my screened porch with my kitties, in my house that's fully paid for, on a pleasant June night, listening to the tree frogs and think about how blessed I am.  I still miss my husband, though less than I used to because my life is different and full in its own way.  I always will miss him; he was a piece of me after 30 years together.  But it is a good life in a good place.

Take your time, think about what you want your life in a new place to look like, and do your research into places you are thinking of considering.  Take trips there and scope them out.  Sign up at www.city-data.com forums and ask people there; there are regional forums for all over the country.

Bergen came up with a lot of good ideas and questions; I'd also suggest that you rent before buying in a given area.  It means you're paying for two moves, but better that than buying a place and finding you don't like the area.  If you take the time to research (maybe even visit a few possible places) while getting work done on your current home, you may not move before another 6 months anyway.

NoLongerinBergenJC, I really enjoyed your post.  Good advice.  

Thank you so much for the sound advice. I know everyone's journey is different, and I totally understand those who have moved because their spouse passed in their home. Rick died in the hospital, but I know if he'd passed away in the house, I doubt I could even go into it again.

Peace

Steph

Shoosie, I am in a similar quandary, although farther along in my grief journey. Dan died 4 years ago June 24, and I am still living on our acreage, which has 3 acres of lawn, numerous planting beds, and a pool to maintain. I love it out here, but my kids (the closest one lives 90 miles away) worry about me taking care of this place alone. I'm 67, retired, and in good physical condition, so I can do the work, but sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be better not to be so tied down. But every time I think of moving, I think that this place was Dan's and my dream that we enjoyed working on together, so how can I move away from that? As they say, not to decide is to decide, so here I am for the foreseeable future at least. Good luck to you as you decide what to do.

Dear Steph,

You don't have to move! At least not anytime soon - as long as you don't want to. I understand the pressure of what other people might think - or to be fair, what WE think other people might think, which may not be what they are thinking at all - about 'moving on'. But ask yourself - moving on from what, exactly? If it's moving on from 'the past' - why should you? The past was happy with your memories of Rick and the beautiful home in the mountains. It does not make you "stuck in the past" . we ALL, the bereaved and not-yet-bereaved choose to live partly in the past while still enjoying the present. We all have homes with memories, photos of loved ones, parents long gone, dresses from our youth that don't fit anymore but which we we couldn't part with, etc. If the answer is that you want to move on from grief, I think that you need to be gentle with yourself. We take our grief with us wherever we go. It isn't something you can leave behind by moving location. And only six months out is very recent.

I made a similar if less drastic decision last week. I had decided to have the bed my husband died in removed from the downstairs bedroom so I could restore it to the study it was before he became ill (it still has all is books and pictures in it). It was an electric double bed that could raise and lower him but it didn't look like a hospital bed. We spent the last two years there. At the same time, i decided to get rid of a recliner chair that we got 3 years ago when he had trouble getting out of chairs by himself, and I was too small really to help him safely. I always joked about how ugly the chair was and how I would get rid of it. We called it Frasier's dad's chair after the old sitcom in which Frasier dad moved a beat-up old armchair into his son's smart apartment. But a friend expressed surprised  and said, "But Chris was always so comfortable in that chair", and I burst into sobs. I had been anxious all week since I had called the charity to arrange to come pick it up, and then I realised that deep down, although the chair represented part of his illness, it was always a sign that he was feeling better and sociable when he wanted me to take him to the chair. And when I decided to keep it, I immediately felt better. Our bodies can often tell us what we need if we are prepared to listen. Your anxiety and crying was you telling yourself that you did to want to leave your home - at least not yet. And you don't have to. 

I am surprised at how many people ask me if I will stay in our house. Chris and I designed and had built our two-bedroomed house five years ago and we loved it. It's a perfect size for one or two people, so I think "why do they think I would want to leave?". I think people assume that you want to close the door on the past. By my past with Chris was a happy one. He built this for me to live in, and I will stay as long as I can.

Sometimes, sitting quietly and becoming attentive to how my body reacts to certain thoughts can help me sort out my next move. If I feel my chest tighten at the thought of getting rid of his clothes, for example, I re-think it: "What about giving away just some things and keeping others? How does that feel?". And I remember, there are no rules about how to deal with grief. You don't have to do anything you don't want to. Not moving now doesn't mean that you'll never feel able to move. It just means that perhaps now is not the right time And there is no rush.

I hope we can help you resolve this.

hugs,

LP

Hi, I think we will have to move this coming year. Our house payment is extraordinarily high and I do not believe I will be able to refinance it on what I make in retirement. We had just gone through bankruptcy to keep it so my credit is now good and I am keeping it good. My two sons are mixed. My youngest thinks it would be great to move because he sees his father at every turn and stays sad. The oldest views the memories in a good way and is not keen on moving but realizes the financial need for all of us. I love my house, but I am tired of trying to keep up with 2 acres of land that I can't keep landscaped. The front yard is a mudpit (once broke my shoulder in 2 places there), the the county is always griping about our cars, the mail contractor doesn't like our dogs so won't deliver. In some respects I would like to move and make it easier too. There are things that make me sad. Do though check out and make a visit to the place you decide on. SC is HOT, I know, I live in North Carolina.

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