One of the most challenging spaces I helped organize was a home office. This client was amazing; she managed three businesses out of her home office while raising a family and volunteering at her children’s schools. Outgoing, personable, and eager to help others, she found great satisfaction in her external life, however at the end of the day she still had mountains of clutter to conquer before she could get down to business.
Her clutter was evident and overwhelming throughout her beautiful home. Although her space was still functional, her hobbies, home businesses and excess purchases littered every space. Unable to properly clean because of the clutter and recognizing she needed help, she hired me and we began uncovering the cause of her clutter and internal chaos.
She was very up front about the loss of her daughter, to cancer at an early age, and the impact of that loss was evident throughout the house. Even more so, her home office was a mine field of memories and tributes to a courageous little girl and a mother’s determination to honor her by helping others.
I almost immediately recognized that what had once been beneficial was now triggering daily pain and loss for her. Never knowing when she would come across something belonging to her daughter, photos or memorabilia that flooded her with pain. This kind of random pain made healing very difficult because she never knew when she might come across something that would trigger the loss, yet putting everything away made her feel like she wasn’t honoring her daughter.
So where is the line between honoring the loss of a loved one and surrounding yourself with painful memories?
First if you have keepsakes, make sure you store them properly so they will not be damaged. Identify what you want in your home. Then decide whether you want to display that keepsake in a public or private space. Does seeing this keepsake bring you joy, remind you of a happy memory, or cause pain? Focus on where you are now and how you feel now, knowing that time will bring more change.
It is important to honor keepsakes you not longer wish to display by storing and labeling them to access in the future. This way you take charge of what you need and want in your space rather allowing misplaced memories to become damaged or lost.
There is no right way to deal with loss; it is important to honor and preserve keepsakes and memories that are important to you as you will always feel that loss, in different and changing ways.
My client reclaimed her space by confronting the clutter and making informed choices about what items to keep and what to let go, by first confronting her fears of the pain finding keepsakes would cause. We came across keepsakes and photos that made her feel joyful and displayed them in her office as an inspiration to continue reaching out to others, while storing other keepsakes in a beautiful, brightly colored container. We came across keepsakes and photos that made her feel sad, but she embraced that feeling and honored each keepsake in a meaningful way to how she was feeling in that moment.
Becoming organized didn’t take away all of the pain, however it did allow her to become current in her life so she could move forward with a new found clarity. Reclaiming her space allowed her to start entertaining again, bringing new found joy into her life. More importantly, she took charge of her space and was finally able to honor her feelings.
Has a loss in your life stopped you from honoring your feelings? Is it taking over your home?