Friday, August 9, 2013

Season of Loss and using a Decluttering Challenge to Heal?

First, I want to express my sincere thanks to all of my readers and friends who have, and continue to offer sympathy, kind words, and love.  Your thoughts and messages in this painful season of my life are so comforting and very appreciated.  I sincerely thank each and every one of you for reaching out to me.

I am fully aware that this season will be long for me, it will take time, I think the grieving process is extremely important but I am also aware that for those that have not experienced grief or have gone through it themselves it is hard to comprehend and understand the depths and layers of the grieving process.  I will still touch on how I am doing here and there, but am struggling yet trying very hard to move forward.  Bear with me, as my blog will not be turning into my journey with grief, but I will be me and comment honestly and openly about my feelings as I move forward.  We are all in different seasons of life and it is important in this journey of life to understand one another.  I remember listening to friends in their season of loss, tucking thoughts they shared away.  Now that I am again in my own season of loss, these thoughts and feelings make even more sense and I understand their journey so much more clearly and what they were trying to convey.  I first experienced death of a loved one at a very early age.  I remember vividly the pain and feelings, the questions and the struggle.  I took from that complete and total empathy and understanding and shared love and kindness with others when their season of loss came.  Through my sadness, I tried so very hard to help comfort those that felt the same pain I felt first so long ago.  I listened and I was just there to comfort and support.  From that first loss, at such a young age, I am able to completely relate and comfort my own young girls as they grieve.  I had no idea all those years ago that when my daughters were the same age as I was then, that they would be experiencing grief unimaginable all these years later.  I am so thankful that I can be here for them.
Dad's apartment numbers outside his door.
As I work through this season, one immediate obstacle was the abrupt clearing out of my dad's apartment.  To quote my mother "Life is what happens while you are busy planning it" I am sure she heard that somewhere, but she says it all the time and one year a while ago it "clicked" for my husband and I.  It is a true statement.  In death as in life, no matter how much you plan, what happens despite your best laid plans is life.  You have to deal with things as they come.  My father was renting a small two bedroom apartment that we did not have the luxury of renting indefinitely, or purchasing.  After what seemed like a whirlwind, we  realized we had a little over a week until his rental month was up and we would need to have his belonging moved from his apartment.  Still in complete shock and overcome with grief, the first thing we did was take as many pictures of everything just as Dad had left them.  We wanted to capture things before they were sorted and moved and disturbed.  We knew once we touched anything that his "presence" would be gone forever.  Since we did not have the luxury of going to his apartment and just sitting any time we missed him or wanted to feel closer to him, the next best thing was to take pictures and remember how things were.  We all took pictures, the grown ups, the children, everybody took all the pictures they wanted, and then we started the sorting and packing process.  It was long, exhausting, and all consuming.  We donated what we immediately knew we would like to be donated and packed the rest and moved it all to my house.  Yes, you read that correctly.  As I type this it is ALL in my family  room, dinning room, study/sewing room, and trickling to other rooms as well.
A small stack of Dad's files and boxes to be sorted through.  One of several stacks, in several rooms.
I could have rented a storage unit for his belongings, but realized from previous and current conversations with others that in this situation most everyone I spoke with, no matter how many years later STILL had a storage unit full of their loved ones belongings that they couldn't bring themselves to sort through and were still paying on that said unit. I decided no matter how difficult I wanted to move his things home and I would slowly sort, and go through the things I was unable to decide on in the comfort of my own home.  Just a few days before my Dad passed, I was planning on cleaning my garage out...again.  A task that is done often twice a year here spring and fall.  So putting things in my garage was out and it all was placed in our home.
Beautiful dried flowers from an arrangement sent to our family.
I am a very tidy, usually uncluttered person and though I have sentimental things in our home, I try very hard to work on keeping clutter to a minimum.  This month has been difficult at best all considering, but to have every spare spot including my dinning table and kitchen island stacked has been challenging to say the least.  On the same coin, in an odd way, being surrounded, and I mean completely surrounded by my Dad's things has been a comfort.  I have been looking at his things, clothing, pictures, books, and other items and they have brought comfort.  I think mainly because they are all around me, and I feel almost like he is all around because of these things that belonged to him.  I also feel ready to sort and donate because I have grown so used to his things all around me, I am ok with it.  Of course it will be difficult time to time when I come across an item that brings back a special memory, but because I am not opening the door on a storage unit and feeling overwhelmed about grabbing a box or tote and having to make an impulse decision. I feel very calm and ok with the process.  I have been thinking about it and as I was getting ready to start and had began to sort a few boxes my friend Rhonda, at Down to Earth posted a De-cluttering Challenge on her blog.   What perfect timing.  So this month I will be working on sorting both my own personal items, and my Dad's belongings, and you can tune in on Rhonda's blog as she talks about Decluttering and gives encouragement and keeps the motivations going.  The people that have committed to decluttering are making great strides and working really hard to make their homes a haven for themselves and their family and I am really proud of them.  There is also a thread about the challenge on the forum at Down to Earth here; Rhonda's August Decluttering Challenge .
Taking time to enjoy beauty and life around us, even when we don't feel like it!  It cheers the spirit and helps heal.
 I invite you to join with me as I work along with many many others on Rhonda's blog, or the forum as we declutter in August!  Anyone that has followed my blog for a little while remembers that I love to declutter and donate the extra stuff to bless others.  I am especially excited to be able to bless others with things that came from dad's and our home.  My dad was an amazingly giving selfless man.  Literally the most selfless man I know, so I know he would be excited to have things that do not have a significant memory attached donated for the good of others.  I cannot think of a better way to help heal in this season of loss than to honor his memory by blessing others!


Little Home In The Country said...

Oh, Amy... I know your pain. When my beloved Grandmother died, I went through so much grief. I still miss her TERRIBLY but the pain is less acute. Grieving is a necessary journey and one that is unique and personal for each of us. Sorting through your Dad's things will be very healing for you ~ difficult, yes, but very healing.

Hugs to you XO

prairieharmony said...

Thank you so very much, it is absolutely amazing how much those in our lives impact us in ways we never even realized. It in turn triggers moments of grief when we least expect it as those memories surface in so many ways in our daily life. It has been very helpful to physically touch and hold my dad's belongings as I think of him and remember him while sorting through his things. (((hugs)))