When You're Suddenly Solo at Home

Our connections to our houses tend to be complex and connected to the men and women in our lives. So when we lose somebody, whether due to a separation or death or a different reason, our connection to the house inevitably changes too. Some people decide to leave the house entirely, while others choose to stay — at least for a while — to see whether they can get comfortable with their new house dynamics. It can be a lengthy and painful procedure.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in every four families is a live-alone household. If you are used to living with a different, finding yourself suddenly solo can be challenging on every level. It’s particularly challenging in the house you’ve shared with a loved one. Here, professional painters discuss strategies about the best way best to make it through the challenges, at your own rate, one step at a time.

Start When You’re Ready

Professional organizer Gayle Grace considers it her job to determine where her customer’s starting point is and to work from there. A death, as an example, is quite different in the relationship separation or a divorce, which can be quite volatile and frequently does not afford parties moment to linger in the house. “Everybody’s timeline for moving on is different,” she says. “However, my main advice to people who suddenly find themselves in the position of staying in a house that they had to share is to do what they are ready to do.”

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For architect and University of Vermont adjunct professor Ted Montgomery, whose wife died of cancer this past year, his starting point began after he found out how competitive his wife’s disease had become. “At a point I knew I was going to be in the house (this picture), and that the dynamics would change,” he says, referring to the Vermont dream house that he and Sarah had assembled in 1996.

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After Sarah’s death, Montgomery began the process of change. “I’ve changed things around the house and in our bedroom not from spite, but because I think healing is about searching things directly in the eye and letting them change and flow,” he says. “One of the first things I did was get rid of all of the medical things along with the clothing she wore when she was sick.”

Professional organizer Nadine McCoy highlights the significance of asking a friend or relative for help during the business procedure. “Many times in separation or divorce, we have a tendency to blame ourselves and feel ashamed of our situation, thus we do not ask for help. But ask for help so that somebody else will there be to offer objective input regarding how it is possible to reframe your house life and move on,” she says.

McCoy says that although every customer is different and every timeline is different, regardless of your requirements, it’s always sensible to organize your documents and affairs in advance rather than at the middle of a catastrophe.

Contemplate Personal Things

Professional organizer Beth Zeigler recommends giving off pieces that you know particular friends or family members actually love. “You can take comfort in knowing that those things will probably be treasured and cherished, that they’ll find a second life in somebody else’s house and will somehow remain within the family; providing items to people you know could also ease the letting-go procedure,” she says. Organizing tools like sturdy cardboard boxes or enormous plastic containers come in handy when separating things.

However, before giving things away, it’s important to think about the sentimental value of things for many others entailed: A child whose parent has expired may not realize the value of her mom’s sketches now, but might appreciate having them for screen once she enters maturity and has her very own house.

If you are going through a divorce or separation, then be sure to allow the leaving party know what the procedure is for getting his or her things. If a spouse is dragging her or his toes, an ultimatum may be called for. McCoy suggests using a garage or estate sale for homeowners left with a lot of things. “It might even be liberating,” she says.

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Make Home Improvements

Homeowner Margerie Reyes stays in a house she used to talk with her ex-fiancĂ©. After eliminating things with painful memories, ” she says, “I left small home improvements that let me return the house for myself, like stacking my sneakers and lining them creatively against a slanted ceiling, which revealed my love of lace. I invited family and friends to fill out the house with laughter and new, positive memories”

As for Montgomery, he recently moved a Japanese pine tree that he planted with Sarah in front of her studio (this picture) in honor of a nephew who died when she was still alive. “We planted the tree together, but I never loved the location of it. I dug it up and moved it close to the entrance to my drive. [The tree] looks amazing there. It’s the place for this. I think moving it was hugely symbolic for me in several ways,” says Montgomery.

Inform us : Has your house brought you comfort in a period of huge reduction? Please share your story with others who could be going through a similar change.

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