Moving After the Death of Your Loved One

Woman sitting with box inside storage unit

There are many factors to consider with moving and it's never an easy process. There is even more to think about after the death of a loved one. Military families move often, but this relocation will be different since you will not have the support and help of your service member. Additionally, you may be faced with deciding where to relocate, wondering if you are entitled to that last paid military move and worried about what you should do with your loved one's belongings.

Deciding where to move

Some things to consider when deciding where to move:

  • The best location to find support. Depending on your situation, you may find it comforting to move near family and friends, especially if you have young children. You may want to relocate near a military installation for medical services for yourself or a child who is an exceptional family member.
  • Relocating for a job. When you're transitioning to a new job, you are also transitioning to a new life. This may be what some survivors need to find their new purpose in life. If you're seeking employment through the federal government, you may be able to take advantage of special preference programs.
  • The affordability of your location. Perhaps you need to relocate to a place that allows you to live comfortably with your survivor benefits.

What's next?


emotional support through Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or Department of Veterans Affairs bereavement counseling.

Once you've made a decision about where to move, you may want to:

Take your time with your loved one's possessions


A Survivor's Guide to Benefits for an overview of your benefits and entitlements.

You, and only you, should decide what to do with your loved one's personal belongings. Don't force yourself to do anything if you are not ready. Take your time and if you are not ready, have everything packed for sorting at another time. After all, you are not on a timeline for coping with your grief. When you are ready, you can sort your loved one's belongings at your own pace and may want to consider asking friends and family for help. Ask yourself questions about each item to help you decide what to do with it. This can give you a sense of control over the situation and help focus your decision-making process. Ask questions such as:

  • Could this item make a good heirloom for kids or grandkids?
  • Would a family friend find comfort in the item?
  • Can I donate it to charity to provide comfort to others?
  • Should I keep it for myself?



financial counseling through your installation's Personal Financial Management Program office and through Military OneSource.

Moving away from the military doesn't mean that your relationship with the military has to end. Keep in touch with military families who are your friends and others who understand military families and their unique lifestyle. As a surviving spouse you have access to military installations and may access your Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities, commissary, exchange and medical privileges.

Military OneSource can help you through this process, from financial assistance and counseling to letting you know what resources are available in the area where you are relocating. Available 24 hours a day, this free service can provide you help through:

  • Confidential, non-medical counseling from specially trained counselors
  • Financial assistance for your move and your future
  • Job transition support and education
  • Other financial assistance options

You don't have to do this alone. Sharing your feelings with family and friends, reaching out to clergy or counselors and using your available resources can help you move on to the next phase of your life's journey.



Find programs and services at your local installation.

View a directory of installations