One of the most difficult aspects of packing is handling items that are already damaged or that have been previously repaired. These items are especially vulnerable to repeat damage. Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, these items break. Some clients are especially fragile, too. Like items that have been previously repaired, the stress of moving pushes them to the breaking point.
Some time ago, we worked with a couple moving to an active adult community. They asked for help getting their home ready for listing. At our initial meeting, the wife cried. I assumed it was from embarrassment at the home’s condition (which was exceptionally cluttered) or from anxiety that we would force her to throw things away. As we later learned, the real reason was more complex.
The couple had two grown sons, both of whom lived far away. A third son had died of a drug overdose many years ago and had been found in his bedroom by the father. After his son’s death, the father developed an alcohol problem, with which he had been struggling ever since. As we sorted, we came upon many items that had belonged to the deceased son. It was very difficult for both parents. The husband’s drinking increased during the sorting process, and we observed mounting tension between husband and wife. One day, we arrived at nine in the morning to find the husband already drunk and being taken to rehab. It was not the first time, his wife informed us. She doubted it would be the last.
“What can we do?” my staff asked. “How can we help them?”
“We can do what they have hired us to do in a caring and professional manner,” I replied. “This family has been fragile and unhealthy for a long time. We didn’t cause the issues they are struggling with and we cannot fix them.”
As Senior Move Managers, we sometimes take already fragile individuals and place them under added stress. Leaving a house full of so many sad memories may indeed be best for this couple, but there is no way to circumvent the emotional pain they experienced in the moving process. We do our part by working professionally, listening compassionately, and helping clients achieve their goals. We need to remind ourselves that some people, like damaged china that is especially vulnerable to repeat breakage, are just too fragile. Although we do our best to mitigate stress, some things can’t be mended.