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The 5 Stages of Moving

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

The phrase “we are moving” will haunt me until my last day on this dreadful earth. Because of PCS season, many military kids have heard this phrase over the summer. This phrase is like a beacon of dread for anyone who has previously moved because they know what is coming. They will once again (or maybe for the first time) have to uproot their life and move across the world for their parent's job. Many emotions can be felt at this time, but the most common emotional order is that of grief, which often comes in five stages.

1. Denial

Denial is the first stage. This is the part of the move where you first hear about it and are trying to find some sort of loophole to stay where you are. This is the part where you tell your friends, and there are the jokes about, “I’ll sneak you in my suitcase and take you with me”. At this point, you may or may not know where you are moving - and that’s scary. The prospect of going to a new place (that you had most likely never heard of), moving into a new school district, and having to make new friends is terrifying. The best thing to do here is to try and prepare yourself for what you know is about to come.

2. Anger

Anger is the second stage. In this stage, you are cursing out the military in your head (I know I did) and venting to your friends about it. You don’t want to start downsizing and getting rid of your old clothes because you just don’t want to move. There may also be angry tears at this stage - that is ok. It is good to cry it out sometimes. It can also feel good to talk to someone about how you are feeling (like a school counselor or teacher) to get a fresh perspective on the actual move. It might not be as bad as you might think.

3. Bargaining

Bargaining is the third stage and is unique and different for everyone. You might argue with people (your parents) about what house you are going to move into, how much stuff you need to get rid of, or even what you are going to do that day. (My sister tried to hide the majority of her stuffed animals in her closet when my parents said that she had to get rid of some because the apartment we were going to move into didn’t have enough bedroom space for all of them. She had a collection that was getting close to about 30 stuffed animals.) In my experience, the best way to deal with this is to talk it out with someone who understands and has been through this process before.

4. Depression

Depression is typically the fourth stage. Again, similar to bargaining, depression can look different for everyone. It’s important that you can look at the bright side or find some type of hope at this stage in the move. Depression can come when you are packing up your house or saying goodbye to your friends. Some advice that I have been given for this stage is to stay positive and think of all of the new opportunities that are being given to you. (This wasn’t the best advice and didn’t really make me feel better but the person meant well)

5. Acceptance

Acceptance is the fifth and final stage. This stage usually comes when you are on the way to your “final destination.” This is where you finally have to accept that you are moving. In my opinion, this is both the hardest and easiest stage to go through. This is the part of your move where you have to realize that you are in a new place and you will eventually have to make new friends and find your people again. This is the stage where the only thing that someone can wish you is luck.

As cheesy as this article was, I hope that you can take something away from it. Even though you may go through all of those stages, moving is a part of military life. And even though it is one of the toughest parts, you can get through it because you are adaptable and have come across these challenges before.


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