I've moved roughly about twenty times while in India and another ten while in the US. As I grew older, moving from one house to another became more of a way of life and didn't matter too much emotionally. But I still have a memory of a very traumatic experience the first few times we did, until I was in high school. Especially when I was very little (when the adults in the family felt like they could just pick me up and leave when the day arrived) I was completely taken over by a deep sense of loss, of a feeling of grief. Of fear and anxiety too, of the unknown place we were going to. It was like 'This house was almost my whole world, and I suddenly feel uprooted from the safety of it!" It used to take me weeks to get over the grief, which I obviously could neither name nor articulate back then!
Starting a week before our move into our new house (we moved about 2 weeks ago), Rajeev and I started talking to Isha about it. We took her to the new house and told her that was where we were going to move into, talking about details like where her clothes and toys would go, among many things. Though it looked like she understood what it meant to move, this was still an unknown first experience for her. She was visibly puzzled (sometimes anxious) whenever we went to the new house or talked about it.
For a few days after the move, Isha kept saying she wanted to "go home". I just held her and asked if she was sad. She said "Yes, I am sad". I told her I was sad too, and that it was ok to feel sadness. It was special to be able to feel sad about something. Rajeev and I then decided to all go to the 'old house' to say a proper 'Thank you and Bye'. We went to each room and thanked it for all that it had offered us over the last two years and said good bye. We talked to her about the importance of letting go and moving on in life. I had initially withheld this conversation from her thinking that she was too young for this kind of a thing. But she wasn't! Many times we underestimate what children can feel and understand.
Something shifted after the good byes. She never asked to go to the old house, though something about it keeps coming up in our conversations.
There is a certain power in acknowledging and allowing our own griefs to be fully experienced before we make any attempt at 'letting go'. If we don't do it the right way, 'letting go' becomes an interesting idea stuck in the head. We become fragmented people who "know" enough about 'letting go' to write a book about it, but cannot make progress in our own lives with letting go of things we want to!