Why Saying Goodbye to a Family Home Can Be Heartbreaking

English countryside Victorian red brick house, Devon, England, UK

This week was a bit of an emotional one in our family – yesterday my parents moved out of the house they’d lived in for 24 years. I don’t think any of us quite realised how much we’d miss their home until it all got very real a couple of weeks ago and we started doing all the “this is the last time we…” in the house.

It’s weird for me because it’s not the house I grew up in. They moved to this house in Devon when I was 21 and had already left home to go to college. This was the one they moved to soon after they both retired, and yet somehow I was starting to feel very, very sad about this no longer being the house we go to to see my parents.

As you can see it was a big, red brick Victorian house in about half an acre of land with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Probably about half of my outfit photo shoots have been taken right outside their front gate, the last ones being this one looking right up the lane from their driveway, and this one looking left. Check out the cows (their next door neighbours) in the latter. Their mooing is going to be missed.

I’ll also miss the pheasants and the partridges that visit the garden and the hares and deer we’d see wandering up and down the lane – sometimes badgers too.

I’ll miss the spectacular sunsets that swept right across the sky.

I’ll miss the fact that the house was so big you’d easily lose someone in the house or garden and take 10 minutes to find them.

I’ll miss the bouncy castle parties and the games of football and tag with my nieces and nephews, who now bring their own children with whom we do the same.

I’ll miss the postman (first name terms) who’d pop in via the kitchen’s back door to deliver the mail.

I’ll miss my picturesque running route through the country lanes.

Everyone in the family has so many wonderful memories from this place, and I won’t lie when I say it was somewhat gut-wrenching to be leaving.

View of Devon countryside at sunset, England, UK

Yet despite the fact that I was so heartbroken on Thursday when we locked the door for the last time (as I’m writing this more water seems to be coming out of my eyes AGAIN), I couldn’t be happier for them.


Why I’m so happy for my parents

You see, both my parents are in their 80s and the house and garden have, in the last few years, become a serious burden for both of them. There is only so much a gardener and a cleaner can do to ease life in such a huge house for an elderly couple, and they are simply too immobile to stay in a house that’s got awkward stairs and a seriously long walk between any two given rooms. Take the size of the garden into account and you’re talking commuting distance.

The silver lining in all of this is the house they have just moved to, which is only 20 minutes down the road from the old house. The pros of the new house far outweigh the pros of the old one.

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Whereas before they were a five-minute drive away from the nearest local shop, they are now in a quiet street in the centre of a large town, in a beautiful bungalow with a spectacular garden. My mum hasn’t been able to drive for a number of years now, and rather than relying on my dad to drive her places it will take her five minutes to walk into the town centre where there are coffee shops, convenience stores, chemists, charity shops, a post office, bakeries, banks, antique shops, restaurants, pubs… It’s all right there on their doorstep.

Their way of life is going to change dramatically, and for the better.


The reason to be positive

Yesterday my two sisters, my parents and I packed up our cars with the final bits and bobs we threw into any box we could find, took a family picture in the empty kitchen and left the house for the last time. Two things happened: One, I cried quite a few tears in the car (I was on my own thankfully); and two, once we got to the new house and started unpacking, all the sadness just seemed to disappear. Firstly because we were too busy to get sad, and secondly because it all seemed like a new exciting adventure.

An hour in and I realised we’d really consumed nothing all day except tea and biscuits, so I suggested I popped into town to pick up a selection of nice rolls and paninis. So I walked the five minutes into the high street – and was met by a choice of several quality places to get a takeaway lunch.

When I told the lady serving me in the bakery that my parents had literally just moved into the town centre and I was getting lunch for everyone, she was so happy for us that she gave me some complimentary packets of fruit scones to welcome us.

And with that, I just knew that everything was going to be alright.




  1. 6 August 2017 / 8:45 am

    Aww my parents did exactly the same thing last year and it was the best decision they ever made. They had help from a gardener and a cleaner and me and my siblings would help as much as we could but the old family home was just getting too much for them. It's surprisingly hard work to upkeep the work on a big house you don't realise until it becomes a problem I suppose. They've downsized to a lovely little four bedroomed house with a modest garden and it's all so much more manageable for them. I'm not going to lie, there were tears in the early months from my stepmum she missed her old house so much. But now they're settled in they couldn't be happier. They need minimum help around the house and can now walk into town. It's a whole new lease of life for them!

  2. 3 August 2017 / 7:28 am

    Thank you for hosting dear! I'm linking back to you HERE Hope you'll check out my latest Fashion post

  3. 31 July 2017 / 3:19 pm

    This story makes me feel better about people. Lovely house but sad to leave. Glad to see that their life is going to get better.

    Thanks for hosting and have a wonderful week.

  4. 31 July 2017 / 8:16 am

    It must have been heartbreaking to leave but what a wonderful place they've moved to. I just love that the lady in the bakery gave you some free scones as a welcome! How lovely is that? I hope your parents are super happy in their new place, Catherine.
    Suzy xx
    Suzy, Yogadocious

  5. 30 July 2017 / 10:24 pm

    What a lovely tribute to your parent's home – and quite a beauty it is. Thank you for sharing the story, xox


  6. 29 July 2017 / 2:26 pm

    Oh shxt. I know you are a teary person, but you got me into tears as well. Which means you are a good writer. So happy for your parents. You are such a loving family. The best.

  7. 29 July 2017 / 11:15 am

    Beautiful post, Catherine! I am always sad when I leave a home and it happens often being a military family. But there are always wonderful memories made with my children in each place and therefore sadness abounds when we have to leave the house behind where the memories were created. But new adventures always await in the new home and we always make more memories while cherishing the old.


  8. 29 July 2017 / 9:35 am

    Yes, absolutely! I still feel sad about leaving the house I (partly) grew up in. It was a three-story house on the seafront in East Lothian, though we just had the top two floors while the ground floor was a flat. Behind us was were woods and a green, hilly space where the street's children would play. The beach is one of the most beautiful I've seen with rocks, sea islands and a view of the Fife coast only fourteen miles across. I spent a good few happy years there being raised by my grandparents.

    But my granny loved flitting as we call it in Scotland. She could never settle and would want to move every couple of years. It's amazing we stayed there so long, but my granddad was persuaded to sell up since he was reaching retirement even though he loved living there. To this day my mum and I can't discuss 'our' house without still feeling heartbroken at its loss.

    There's a nice postscript to the story though. Last year we were going to the town I grew up in for a few days for my Big 50 and we stopped in to a local artist's exhibition on the way. She asked me about my connection to the town and I rattled off the three houses we'd lived in, but when I got to 'our' house I said the full address. "You're kidding!" she said. "That's my brother's house!" A wonderful coincidence as both her and myself are artists, plus I was able to tell her that my grandparents bought the house in 1970 from two sisters who were selling their late brother's home – he was also an artist!

    Best wishes to your parents who will no doubt come to love their new home just as much.

  9. 29 July 2017 / 9:01 am

    It's nice to read and re-enforce we are all human and have the same feelings! I can't imagine my mum moving – she's got way too much stuff to deal with – lol.
    This is a lovely post, and I thank you for sharing it. Jacqui

  10. 29 July 2017 / 7:29 am

    What a beautiful home and surroundings. I can imagine how heart wrenching it was for your parents and the rest of your family, including yourself. But, it is lovely they have found somewhere nearby that is more suited practically, to their current needs and wish them much happiness x

  11. 28 July 2017 / 10:24 pm

    What an absolutely stunning home and such a sweet story, thank you for sharing!

  12. 28 July 2017 / 10:00 pm

    It is wonderful your parents are still together and making a life in a cozy, more convenient new place. But I totally get the goodbye blues! It is definitely bittersweet to see the family home go.

    Ours was a big, beautiful Victorian right on the ocean and my parents sold it because of a divorce. It did hold good memories for me as I lived there with my Mom for quite some time. We both had lots of fun friends and fun parties. She loved to entertain. I still pass it by now and then since I live in the area in the summer. And I have to admit, when I do, I feel a little sad.


  13. 28 July 2017 / 9:32 pm

    Hello dear catherine, I can understand very well, but after all a house is just a house and you have your parents alive and well moving to a more convenient place for them so be it. Perphaps it is a chance for them to do other things like travel.
    My mother died in a car accident many years ago. When it came to sell the family home I felt no sorry at all because the house withou my mother was an empty sell, so enjoy them, hug them from you and from me that I have none.
    Much love

  14. 28 July 2017 / 9:32 pm

    I can definitely relate to your feelings of sadness. My mum lives in an old thatched cottage, it's been in the family for generations, and it's where I grew up. It looks lovely from the outside and everyone says they'd love to live there, but the truth is it's a burden. It's grade 2 listed so mum is very restricted about what she can have done – no double glazing. She hasn't got central heating, it needs rewiring and all the floors and walls are wonky. She's 74 in a couple of months and has kidney failure so there will come a time when she needs to move. Part of me would love to go back and live there but we're settled on the other side of the country so that's not practical. It's a dilemma that plays on my mind frequently and I don't know how I'd cope with having to let it go. I'm glad you feel at ease with your parents' move and hope you all make many happy new memories there's

    Emma xxx

  15. 28 July 2017 / 9:26 pm

    I'm dreading the day my auntie has to move or passes, her home is one of my happy places. Hope all goes well for you all xx

  16. 28 July 2017 / 9:25 pm

    We sold our house two years ago and and downsized to an apartment. I was happy to do it and don't really miss it (it bothers my husband more). But my sons were surprised that it made them sad for us to sell the home they grew up in and they miss visiting us there. I didn't realize it would affect them that way. I hope you make many happy memories in your husband's new home!

  17. 28 July 2017 / 9:18 pm

    Ohhhh Catherine I totally feel you pain! We are in the process of deciding to sell the home that my boys have grown up in. We have in fact, been out viewing houses today. It feels a massive wrench. My babies came home to this house, we built our family home here, but we long for less of a city location. Its a tough decision. Houses are more than bricks and mortar for sure, they are our holder of memories. Its so hard. (a beautiful home to your parents home) xx

  18. 28 July 2017 / 9:08 pm

    I must admit I've never experienced this because my parents split up, but my daughter is going through this as we contemplate down sizing and moving to the country. I'm sure, just like your parents, there will be so many more memories to come xx

  19. 28 July 2017 / 8:39 pm

    Catherine this post was beautiful. I take care of my grandmother long-distance since I'm her oldest living relative and since she refuses to leave her 50+ year home 1,000 miles away. It can be so complicated to figure out life plans and organize these sorts of things when family gets into their 80s.

    Your post made me so happy to know your parents have found such a wonderful new place. I know the time to move my grandmother out of her home (willingly or unwillingly) is coming and I'm hoping I can find her a similar situation where she can walk to everything she needs.

    Again, beautiful post and undoubtedly a hard one to write. I know your parents move will prove to be a very good thing.


    Ashley || Sed Bona

  20. 28 July 2017 / 8:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing this lovely post Catherine. So good that you've helped your parents to settle into their new home and that you're happy to have helped them move on to the next stage of their lives. Change comes for all of us doesn't it? Thanks for the Saturday link-up, it's the first time I've dropped by.

    Anna x

  21. 28 July 2017 / 8:13 pm

    Are they staying in Devon? I'll bet it be more relaxed for them in a while.

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