From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Trials of Relocation

While relocation has become commonplace in our world, it is none-the-less an experience not to be underestimated. Like many other aspects of life, the process of relocating has many stages. Our ability to handle each stage often determines our long-range satisfaction with the move. Along with the physical aspects of relocating, several emotional aspects bear consideration.

Relocation marks the end of life in one place and the beginning of a new life elsewhere. It is in fact, a sort of death. As such, each family member needs time to adjust to the idea and mourn in their own way. Avoiding relocation trauma often means respecting one's readiness to say good-bye and move on.

As moving means major change, you may encounter resistance by some family members. Younger children may develop physical symptoms or regress to immature behavior. Teenagers may threaten to secede from the union. Spouses may offer ultimatums. Families need to talk openly about their feelings... some battles may require a few family therapy sessions before they can be resolved. In short, it is valuable to assess the emotional readiness of all family members before you look for group enthusiasm!

In general, the more time that we have to adjust to the idea, the easier it is to adjust to the shock. Like plants, we grow roots in our living environment. The length of time that we have lived in a place often determines the depth and stability of our roots. When the decision to move is made, we often feel our roots shrivelling beneath us. It takes an awful lot of energy to say good-bye, and each family member does need to say all of their good-byes in order to achieve a feeling of closure, and a willingness to "let go". Remember: when it comes to emotional matters... emotions matter!

When the whole family contributes to the notebook, everyone's needs can be considered. It is therapeutic for everyone to make lists. Even those who are too young to write can dictate their lists so that their words can be respected too. When children are involved in the family's planning process, they are less likely to rebel or feel left out.

When we first moved to Greensboro, I attended one of the Newcomer's Coffees sponsored by the Greensboro Newcomer's Club. I was shocked to learn that their length of membership was up to five years. I was hoping to feel at home after one meeting! The truth is that this was a very helpful organization. According to their by-laws, "the purpose of the Newcomer's Club is to welcome newcomers to Greensboro, to acquaint them with the community and to enable them to meet other newcomers." Persons are eligible to join the Newcomers Club if they have lived in the vicinity for one year or less.

The Newcomer's Club offers a wide range of social and social action-oriented activities. While there are monthly meetings for the general membership, the group is also divided into neighborhood grids to help you meet your neighbors and get a feel for your new community.

Information about the Club in your area is available through your Board of Realtors, Medical Auxiliary, Welcome Wagon, Public Libraries, and notices in the community section of your newspaper.

The good news is that most places are accustomed to welcoming newcomers, but you will feel at home in direct proportion to your willingness to become involved. By announcing your status as a newcomer to the school system, your religious community, and neighborhood, you'll increase your chances of receiving a royal welcome!

Speak up and be friendly. Nearly every organization has orientations, social events, and volunteer opportunities for newcomers. Volunteering is an excellent way to find your niche in the community and feel useful. Put yourself on their lists and allow others to help you learn about your new home. Most places are filled with helpful new friends for all ages. By connecting with others, you'll have the opportunity to build a new life and avail yourself of all that your new community has to offer. Welcome!

ęCopyright, 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated September 27, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.