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When Things Can’t be Mended

Posted on June 21st, 2013 by Margit Novack
From www.movingsolutions.com | info@movingsolutions.com | 610-853-4300

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.

tea cupSome 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.

3 Responses to “When Things Can’t be Mended”

Anne MersonJune 21st, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Margit – this is so beautifully expressed. Thank you! While not this painful – at least in appearance – I have sensed this need from Mrs. X and have needed to spend time being totally present with her and listening with an open heart. It has been an honor for me to do so. Thank you for posting this. A

Susan CampbellJuly 8th, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Excellent article and so true. Because Senior Move Managers tend to be compassionate people, we often take on too much responsibility for our clients. It is a valuable point that we didn’t create our clients’ problems and the very best we can do for them is to provide our excellent services with our compassionate hearts!

[…] I enjoy using metaphors — describing how helping family members move forward can seem like tacking in a boat — sometimes you have to  go sideways to make progress, and how some family dynamics are so fragile that, like fine china with a hairline fracture, no matter how much care you take, they break under the added pressure of a move. […]

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