This blog is about Teresa’s journey selling her home.
I’ve avoided writing about this for a good long while on this blog. It’s a difficult topic for me, all wrapped up in an intricate quilt of emotions. The house was so much more than just a dwelling we lived in. It was our dream home and land.
Selling your home after your widowed is no small task. We acknowledge that for some the urge to move out and get out of the home that surrounds you with memories can be a strong pull. We also acknowledge that your home may be filled with sweet memories and you never want to leave it. We recommend if at all possible not doing so the first year. There is no wrong or right way to deal with the house if you are privileged enough to own one. Do the best you can at the time.
When Kris died, I vowed to keep the home until the boys graduated high school. That was the deal and what we had discussed. The life insurance was for the home and boys school. That choice was easy at first. Keeping the land and house became a bit more tricky as time went on.
For me, the house represented more than just a dwelling, it was our dream place to live, retire and raise grandchildren. We planned every last detail of the custom home and it had everything we ever wanted at the time it was built. The home and land was a dream come to fruition that became so much more as we lived and grew our family on 12.5 acres of Texas hill country. It had 360 degree views of the hill country with a rolling hilltop location. The location was remote enough to feel like you were in the country and not so far from Austin or grocery stores.
The home was special in that it was the last house my late husband’s beloved step-father built. The framing and shell was done with the brothers together, another special ingredient of the home. We knew it was built solid and where every wire and 2×4 was. We did a remodel to expand for a massive playroom for the boys that held a video gaming area, foosball table and ping-ping table with plenty of room for friends. We had a pool and wrap around porch with all of the accoutrements for entertaining. The PitMaster smoker and BBQ grill provided many special Klein briskets for events. The home was the party and fun place for many family, church and friends over the years. It was such a great house filled with so much life.
The land was left mostly natural with a shooting range on the back ½. We had finally finished the laborious natural bird and butterfly landscaping around the house and it was thriving and beautiful.
I loved that house and the land. Sitting on the porch watching the sunset was part of my grief therapy. I still miss that porch and the serenity of the land. I miss the birds and wildlife. The boys had grown up there and didn’t want to leave or ever sell it. They’d tell me, “Mom, we’ll help you. Mom, we can keep it up. Mom, don’t sell it.” and on and on.
However, as time wore on, so did the house. It started to need repairs and more work. A new water heater, a cabinet started to detach from the wall, the darn water for the icemaker kept breaking, faucets broke, toilets leaked, the well started to act funny, the stupid gate opener had issues, the septic almost overflowed, the pool was in need of some TLC, the land needed care, the grass kept needing cut, and the landscaping needed constant weeding. Not to mention the house was a massive two-story. The boys were moving out and moving on there was just me. The repairs were getting more costly and on my teacher salary I could barely keep up with the property taxes much less expensive repairs. The life insurance funding of the home was running out. I could play the movie forward and see that 12.5 acres in the middle of nowhere alone with this massive house and massive repairs was more than I could bear both financially and physically. I didn’t want the house to become an albatross.
I felt conflicted. Selling our dream home felt like a betrayal to Kris and the boys. Selling my dream home, I’d never have another like it. Leaving my porch therapy area. No place to shoot. What about the 3 dogs and 3 cats? Moving – where? Moving into town in the suburbs, gross. Moving downtown, too expensive. What about all of this stuff? What about Kris’s stuff I haven’t touched. Too much. I’ll think about it later.
That mental exercise went round and round often over the years as the boys continued with high school. Both boys graduated high school and the vow was kept. My new life had started. I could move out, I could sell the house. I had moved on emotionally too, I was ready for something new, I no longer wanted to keep the house and certainly did not want to do the care and maintenance all by myself. Sure the boys said they would help but they were embarking on their own lives.
The amount of house and yard work, and long drives into work and town had become enough. I was ready to make a change. I had a boyfriend and I had completed graduate school. I was ready.
I set a date, hired a realtor and before I knew it the house was on the market. I informed the boys and asked them to come home and start packing up their stuff and sort out what they wanted from the house. That was the hard part, telling the boys, I’m selling the house and moving. They weren’t happy but I explained the financial and upkeep was just too much. I couldn’t do it and I was ready to get out of the house before it became a problem. They understood but still wanted me to keep it.
The place sold and the tear jerking packing started in earnest. We had huge bonfires burning the 20+ year old papers and junk from the house. We loaded and carted over 20 truck loads of household items for donations. We cried, we laughed and each of us said our final goodbyes to Kris, the memories of the home and the land.The purging and downsizing was emotionally one of the best things I’ve done. We all felt freer and it helped us with our grief process.
The home was sold to a family with 6 kids that had blended together. I was thrilled to see it go to a family that could love it like we did. We’ve driven by a few times, they’ve changed the place but I don’t regret selling it at all. The boys don’t want the home anymore either as they’ve grown and moved on in their lives. We are at peace with the move and that chapter of our lives is over. We’re into the next chapter of life moving forward.
I hope that sharing my story is helpful if you should be in this situation. There’s no easy answer or right thing to do. Pray, seek your heart and do the best you can. That’s all we can do.
Any transition is hard and the widow journey makes it even harder. The decision to stay where we were when we lost our loved one or move to another location is one of the hardest. Once again, our advice is to try to not make this type of decision (or any other major decision) in the first year unless you absolutely have to do so. Our hope is that this story will help you with any transition you have to make along this journey.
Many blessings to you all,
Teresa & Jeni
PS: For additional support you can download our free copy of 10 Ways to Move Forward After Loss
In addition, we wrote Torn in Half: The First Days as a resource for the first days after a loss – available on Amazon in paperback and ebook.