I have been supporting a client for several months now who has been ‘paralyzed’ by the grief she is experiencing associated with the loss of both her best friend and mother in a one-month period. Almost numbing to even think of how much emotional upheaval was going on for her. We were and are making steady progress in processing her grief.
Today we had a huge breakthrough.
It involved not only my client, I shall call ‘D’ and myself, but several friends who came to help and support her clutter clear and tidy her home. You see over the past months ‘D’ was so grief struck and full of emotions she was unable to attend to her everyday household duties. Duties that were once normal and easily accomplished. Added to her clutter were all the remaining artifacts from her mother’s apartment and a similar collection of goodies from her deceased best friend’s home.
All of a sudden, it seemed, ‘D’ was stuck emotionally and physically and her home became as cluttered as she was emotionally. When we first started working together I noticed the physical clutter in her home, as I do house calls. She was embarrassed by the state of her home while I was informed by it. So we did our session outside under a lovely tree in the front yard – leaving the home and the clutter alone for a while.
As we moved through our sessions ‘D’ began to regain her life energy and focus. She noticed she was also making a little progress with paperwork and a bit of the important clutter. She proudly made the claim, and rightfully so, that she was moving forward though slowly.
With her public acknowledgment of feeling stronger and making some progress I floated the idea that perhaps it was time to begin de-cluttering the house. ‘D’ response was; “Absolutely!” And before I knew it the clutter clearing party was on. Three of us were invited and the goal was simple – start letting go of the clutter. Coffee, snacks and lunch we on tap too!
We all showed up on Monday morning and with a little ceremony we began.
One of us in the kitchen, one of us loading stuff on to a truck, me in the bedrooms and living room, and ‘D’ supervising and say yes or no to trash / keep / recycle requests. Garbage on the truck, including a fridge, a mini-fridge, old tires, and a treadmill; recycling in my car including her late mother’s walkers, some clothes, and bags of yet to be knitted wool. Oh yes, a suitcase or two and several magazine racks; The kitchen was spotless, cupboards cleaned, countertops well organized and dishes back where they belonged; Bathroom tidy and clean, no more empty toilet paper rolls littering the counter tops. The thrift shop and recycler were so happy to receive these ‘gifts’ that once littered ‘D’s home.
Two of three bedrooms were clutter cleared, cleaned and organized. The grandkids room is now ready for playful visitors and the guest room ready for a sleepover. The living room and dining room now spotless and ready for visitors.
Whew, all done with the loving support of a small group of friends.
Through out the whole process we made time for memories, sharing and the natural emotions that arose as ‘D’ let go of things that reminded her of mother or her best friend. Those items she wanted to keep were placed in ‘special’ spots in the home; a guitar on a shelf in the grandkids room; a photograph or three on the fireplace mantel in the living room; a clock on the wall in the kitchen; a framed picture hung in the hallway. Each item placed lovingly as ‘D’ remembered emotionally what each piece represented for her as she recalled times with her best friend and with her mother.
As we cleared the physical clutter we were also supporting ‘D’ in releasing her emotional clutter. The two go hand in hand.
If it takes a community to raise a child it must also take a community to grieve the loss of a loved one.