Moving is traumatic and friends can help … or not.
As I’m preparing to move for what seems like the millionth time I can’t help reflecting on how not to help a friend who’s moving. We all know to tiptoe around someone who’s grieving a loss or getting divorced (which might be the same thing). But when people move, all caution goes out the window.
(1) Going away gifts are nice (but not essential). However, be realistic. Give something that’s easy to pack.
When I moved from Atlanta to Alaska many years ago, my colleagues chipped in to buy me … a snow shovel. They all signed it. The moving van had already left and I had to squeeze it into my small car. It was useless for shoveling the Alaskan snow anyway.
The ideal gift: A gift certificate for a store or service in your friend’s destination city. If you know them well, choose an arts event or restaurant. Otherwise choose a store like Macys, a pet store or a bookstore.
(2) Don’t treat your friend like a ghost. In the weeks before they leave, they’re very much present and they need to interact with local people.
(3) Set up a final lunch or party with the whole gang or just yourself – well ahead of time. Don’t call someone three days before they leave to ask, “Hey can we get together for dinner?” By then they’re so frazzled and probably so booked-up your well-intentioned call will backfire.
(4) Say only positive things – unless you really have inside information that will be useful and important. “I think you’re crazy to make this move” is not helpful…unless they haven’t committed to the move and you have really solid grounds to make your claim.
(5) Stay in touch. If you’re the one left behind, you’re most likely to stop corresponding. Your friend will be grateful for notes and “How are you doing” calls.
At the same time, life goes on. Research shows that it’s hard to stay connected once somebody moves. Don’t force a relationship if your friend seems to have moved on. Don’t feel offended if you don’t hear from them after they leave.
From my ebook: Making The Big Move, the Report that helps you deal with relocation stress.