How Moving To A New City Triggered My Grief


I lost my mom was I was 20 years old. When I was 18, I moved to Madison, Wisconsin for college from San Diego, California, where my family had been living. Even back then I was triggered by moving to a new city far away from my family, particularly my mom, and I wasn’t yet mature enough for such a big transition.

I’m now 26, and this year I moved from San Diego to Santa Barbara and now San Diego to Phoenix.

Today, a lot of grief came up at the loss of my mom that I didn’t even know was still there lingering. Being on this journey with grief, I do know that every time a major event in my life happens, my grief will be triggered.

When I moved to Santa Barbara, it came up to a small extent. However, I was still living pretty close to home (about a four hour drive), so I felt a sense of still being attached to that part of myself, and it wasn’t too intense.

Now that I’m here in Phoenix, which is actually the city in which my mom grew up, I feel a lot of it coming up. Phoenix feels like a bigger move than Santa Barbara was. It’s about six hours away instead of four. I am older, wiser, and this move feels like a more permanent or at least a much bigger change—almost like the move from San Diego to Wisconsin was. But this time I am ready for it. I am strong enough. I have healed enough of my own issues that were underlying the grief to the point where I feel comfortable enough to be here and deal with it head on.

Moving to a new city is listed on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory as one of the major stressful events a person can experience in life. It’s no wonder it is triggering my grief, as I’m sure it would to many other young adults who have lost a parent at a young age.

If you are experiencing a retriggering of your grief upon moving to a new city, know that it is normal for these reasons. You are brave and you are strong for being able to move, and you will be rewarded with wonderful new experiences. Know that your angel on the other side is taking care of you.