For the past two years we have had our home in Wisconsin on the market. In 2015 we made the decision to load up our RV and move to New Mexico. We never anticipated that it would take so long to sell our Wisconsin home.
After a recent trip back to Wisconsin where we spent 10 days of breaking our backs getting our Wisconsin home all spruced up, listed with a new realtor, and back on the market, we arrived back home and within five days had two offers, one of which we accepted.
After almost two years on the market, you’d think we would be ecstatic, but, for me, that was not the case.
Just before our trip to Wisconsin we rescued a dog, a one-year-old chihuahua mix. The timing of this adoption probably could have been better but I believe everything happens for a reason and we were meant to bring this dog into our home. We named him Sunny because he wants to lay in the sun when he sleeps during the day. He’s adorable and we are smitten.
But it’s like having a new baby in the house. He only sleeps about six hours at night until he has to go out so eight hours of blissful sleep for us is not happening yet.
I tell you this because this lack of sleep contributed to my not-so-ecstatic feelings about the pending house sale.
See, we got married on the land that the house sits on, and then, after getting married, we built our home there. And I do mean WE built our home. We did almost all of the work ourselves. We then lived in that house for 15 years and loved it. But New Mexico called, and we answered.
We love everything about New Mexico. We would never go back to Wisconsin to live so you would think that selling our home there would be great news, and it was.
And what was ever better is the buyer really wants this house. We hoped whoever bought it would love it as much as we did.
But in addition to feeling relieved and thrilled, there was another emotion creeping into my days.
Our older dog, Krishna, had stopped eating for a few days on our trip to Wisconsin and after getting back home we found out he has renal disease and it’s only a matter of months for him, maybe a year, at best.
Now picture an overtired woman who is running a business, trying to acclimate an adorable dog into her family, who finally realizes that the house she was so attached to is now going to someone else and her almost 15 year companion is reaching the end of his life.
Ecstatic? Nope. I found myself crying myself to sleep and waking up with tears in my eyes.
And, at first, I didn’t know why.
Then it hit me — this is what grief feels like. I’m grieving my home and my dog, I’m exhausted, and I just want to be happy.
How did I handle all of this? I did what I always do. I journaled. I prayed. I cried for a day or so. And I took naps whenever I could.
But you know, just naming my feelings as “grief” made a huge, positive difference. Now I knew what I was dealing with.
I thought back to when I left my job in corporate America and there was a time when I had some similar feelings. I missed my co-workers (at least some of them), I missed the high level of activity, I missed the good days, and I grieved — a little.
For me, this wasn’t as intense as finding out my dog was sick, but there were similar feelings.
It’s hard some times to let go of things. Even things we don’t like. Why? Because they are familiar. I would never have gone back to my corporate job. Not ever. But I still grieved over the things that I missed, and this is normal.
And there’s no rules when it comes to grief. It is different for everyone.
But one thing I know for sure — when you are experiencing loss, of any kind, a little self-care is in order. You need time. Time to process. Time to cry. Time to feel off, or down, or whatever you’re feeling.
And by feeling those feelings, they pass.
It doesn’t help to deny or negate them, or try to talk yourself out of them. Trust me, those feelings will only pop back up at some time in the future and probably at a very inappropriate time.
The art of letting go is all about recognizing you are letting go, whether it’s a job, a relationship, a house, or a loved one, and then feeling whatever you need to feel.
Taking some time for yourself during a time like this is important. And if you gracefully let yourself take whatever time you need, while not checking out completely, you will realize that letting go of the old is what is required in order to make room for the new.
I no sooner named what I was feeling as “grief” when I began to feel a level of excitement. It was that feeling you get when you are a kid and you see your presents under the Christmas tree and you can’t wait to open the packages.
I knew, without a doubt, that I was moving into a time in my life when I had to let go in order to create enough space for something miraculous to show up.
I don’t know what that miraculous thing is yet, but I feel it coming. And it’s exciting.
I didn’t cry again after I realized what I was feeling was grief. Naming it took away it’s power.
But I have had a few nights when I’ve felt so excited I had a hard time getting to sleep.
I am grateful for having had the privilege of creating and living in our home in Wisconsin. I am grateful for the friends I made there and the jobs I had there, because all of that helped me get to where I am today.
Today I look forward — to new friends, new opportunities, continuing to create our new home, the time I have left with my precious older dog and the joyful times ahead with our new dog. And everything else that is coming our way that I can’t even imagine yet.
I have discovered that sometimes losing something is a gift in disguise. Because the thing that will replace it will be better than you could ever have imagined.
And the art in all of that is allowing whatever will happen to happen, with grace, gratitude, and a feeling of awe about what tomorrow may bring.
Even in loss there is joy if you look for it. Remember, when one door closes, another door opens. Sometimes that door closes with a bang, and sometimes more slowly. But always in the closing there is an opening, and by being willing to open that new door we can find that our life can be filled with so much joy if we let it.
Whatever you do, don’t stay behind that closed door out of fear. Sure, sometimes it’s just easier to stay buried under the covers all day, but if one morning you can drag yourself out of bed and face the new day you may delighted to discover that the sun is shining more brightly than ever.
Look for the joy as you open that new door. It’s waiting there for you. At least that’s my experience whenever I allow it.