Humans have a profound need to define their place in the world.  Having a home is one of the ways we carve out a place for ourselves in this big confusing universe.

A house or an apartment is merely a shelter but a home is an entity alive with its own unique atmosphere created by its occupant/s. Many basic human needs (read more about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) are provided by a home, including shelter, safety, love and emotional warmth.

What’s the first thing people ask when they meet you?

“Where are you from? “ or maybe “Where is home for you? “ Home is a big part of who we are and an extension of ourselves.  Home blurs the line between our environment and us.

At its best home should be a place of comfort and refuge from a busy and sometimes difficult world.  If our home has a positive environment filled with love and warmth it allows us to venture out into the greater landscape of life feeling strong and full of hope.  But an even fuller sense of well being can be derived when we truly connect with place by learning about and becoming involved in our community’s culture, schools, religious institutions and the natural environment.

Do you have memories of the home you grew up in?

Although we have strong emotional ties to our current homes it is true that we carry with us the memory and connections to all the places where we have lived. In the U.S. an average individual will move 11.4 times in their lifetime! Yes, with each new move and each new dwelling we have the ability to create a new home. And yes, mobility can give us a resilience, flexibility and reliance on self. We must be aware, however, that we lose something in not having a permanent place for a lifetime.  I recently visited an island off the coast of Newfoundland, a place the residents call “far away from far away”. These fishing families have lived on this island for generations, sometimes in the same exact house. Yet, despite their isolation and hardships these are a proud and contented people perhaps due their highly developed sense of home, place, history and connection to the land and sea.

Whether we are moving due to an exciting new business opportunity in a different town or downsizing due to an empty nest the fact is that we are leaving our home – our place – and it is a loss.

Some steps to remember when moving from a home:

  • Take time and give yourself permission to feel the loss.
  • Have some type of event at your old home – large, small, simple, elegant – to mark the transition.
  • Create tangible memories of the home – photos, photo books, perhaps even commission a drawing of the house.
  • Take care of yourself. Moving is one of the most stressful and exhausting of life events yet we tend during these trying transitions to abandon our healthiest routines – exercise, sleep, clean eating – that keep us strong.

Some steps to remember when arriving in a new home:

  • Remind yourself that making a new home and connections takes time. Be patient.
  • Decorating and making a dwelling into a home may take months. Create in the new home an immediate sense of “place” by making one small spot comfortable and cozy filled with photos and favorite things.
  • Be open and make an effort to connect with the community from day one. Meet the neighbors and get involved in town activities.
  • Continue traditions from your previous home but create some traditions specific to new home.
  • Connect deeply with the place. Learn about the history, geology and natural environment. Take a break from unpacking and get some exercise walking around different areas of town. Engage with people in your area by asking them about the town history.

Janet Williams
Therapist specializing in Children, Adolescents and Families
30 Washington Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06831
(203) 912-9730