“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter,
and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little
things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”
Jeff and I both love our homes, the neighborhood in which they are located and the memories they hold. When we marry and blend our families; however, we know the best thing for both of us is to start fresh, to find a new home just for us.
The neighborhood we choose offers us quick access to our ageing family members, church and work, and within a few weeks we are meeting other young families. I am delighted to discover there are seven other stay-at-home-moms like myself that live within two blocks of us.
The children take turns playing at each of our homes and developing friendships. We help each other with carpooling, play dates and the more serious crises that affect our lives. We laugh and celebrate milestones and make memories together as our friendships deepen.
Many of the husbands and fathers in the neighborhood are business men, and as they move up the corporate ladder, it can take them across the country. The first move of that kind comes in 1997, when our son’s best friend moves to Indiana.
Our “good-byes” are mingled with tears and promises to stay in touch, not knowing we are laying the groundwork for many more departures yet to come. Friends move closer to extended family members, some make career changes and others change school districts or buy larger homes.
It is especially difficult for me as a stay-at-home mom to lose my support system as these families move away. My grief is heightened as I watch the effect of these changes on my children as we become the only family left of the original seven.
Today, 40 million people move annually for various reasons according to Wikipedia. Three-fourths of those living in the United States, move once every five years. There are many contributing factors to why people move such as a shifting economy, the doubling of the divorce rate in the last thirty years, corporate transfers, military service or the expected change in status like marriage, going to college or retiring.
Have you ever thought that loss and the need to grieve that loss is important to consider when you move? Do you know how to prepare yourself or your family for the inevitable loss that comes from watching a friend leave?
Here are some of the things I learned:
- Honesty is the best policy – everyone should know the date and time the family will be leaving. If you cannot say good-bye for whatever reason, arrange for a convenient time for phone calling.
- Decide what role you and your children will play in the send-off. Will there be a gathering or farewell party? If so, think of positive ways to remember the fun times you’ve had together.
- Write a letter to your friends to read as they travel to their new home.
- It takes work to keep up a long distance friendship – do not promise things that you have no intention of following through on.
- If you plan to meet in person after the move, get something on the calendar early on so that the transition is easier.
- If your children see you cry, explain your emotions and share what you are feeling.
- Be aware that your children may grieve – symptoms may include sadness, or not eating or sleeping as well.
- Technology now keeps us connected in ways that were not available when our friends moved away. Setting up Skype, email accounts and making calls can help.
This past weekend, we got together with three of the families that used to live down the block. Our friendships have survived busy schedules and the miles that separate us. We continue to have relationships with six of the seven original families that helped us transition into our new home and neighborhood twenty-two years ago this month.
I hope that you invest energy and time into getting to know your neighbors so that you too can benefit from their friendships like our family has. Even when everything changes, friendships worth keeping can withstand anything and last a lifetime. Take a risk and go out and meet your neighbors!