I am currently working with a client whose’s life is in total transition – her son has moved out of the house (empty nest), she has recently lost a parent, and she is recovering from surgery. As she struggles with her loss, deals with her new role of an empty nester, and heals from her surgery she is clearly overwhelmed. Moving forward means confronting the clutter in her spare room upstairs and her office downstairs. Unfortunately many of the items cluttering her current space reflects the difficulties and triggers of past events.
The upstairs room was filled with her college son’s high school trophies, wrapping paper, current work blueprints, dusty desk, computer and a closet full of old electronics and clothing. Adding to this eclectic mix was a makeshift work table filled with current bills, legal papers regarding her father’s trust, condolence cards from his recent funeral, and a bed she was using while she recovered from surgery. It was clear that her son’s former room had become a makeshift bedroom/office while she had been recovering and unable to get up and down the stairs.
I honestly didn’t know how she could sleep in a room with a stack of unopened mail, a mixture of her son’s belongings and her father’s memories, all calling to her at every turn. We discussed that maybe it was time to restructure her home space to reflect where she is in her life right now. She realized that even though she was able to get downstairs again, she liked working upstairs and wanted to use this spare room as an upstairs home office. Once she realized this, it was time to start moving forward.
Distinguishing what is necessary and current vs. what can be put away as a memory to address at a later less emotional time will help her minimize the daily overwhelming feelings of loss. Even if the steps are small, putting things in order and creating a space that will allow her to become current and move forward is healing and empowering.
Sometimes all a client needs is help catching up with the accumulation of everyday life that had to be overlooked during a time of crisis. Once the crisis subsides the residue of acquired clutter is overwhelming, and being able to help her get back on track and creating a space that brings her joy and peace of mind rather than stress is very rewarding!