New friends, let’s get comfortable while we sip on our tea together and have an honest conversation about organizing through loss & grief because the sun ain’t always shining around these parts and more often than not, the rainbow on the other side feels like a mountain to climb.
Whether or not grief and loss have snuck their way into your life, we are bound to meet clients who are living in grief or have lived through it. When these clients reach out to us, when they choose us - it’s a dare to an emptier, fuller life.
This grief, the one that feels like literal heaviness of the bones resting in your body, is the kind that aches for relief. This grief will eat all in its path, alive. It does not know history, memories, childhood stories. It takes nothing into consideration.
When we, professional organizers, come on the scene, we see the struggle in the clutter. We know that not all clutter is the same and we know that the more we listen to our clients when they speak, that guides us in seeing the unfolding of the true underlying issues that are happening.
When this grief clutter is recognized for what it is - by us, by the client - that is where the work begins toward a deep life overhaul. It is at this moment that we, as the professional organizers, can dream up our fairytale ending for them, imaging the client’s journey toward release and restoration.
First, how can we as professionals recognize grief clutter? It looks like an accumulation of our things in all the places. High piles of mail, all the everyday items gathered on the table, on the counters or shoved behind whatever cupboard hasn’t been filled yet. It is in the daily habit of avoidance, deprioritizing. The higher the piles grow, the stronger the power is that these items hold over our clients' lives. They’ve been caught in a rhythm that’s hard to break.
Keeping the home organized and “breathable” is literally the last thing on our clients mental ‘to-do’ list at this point. With our guidance and our help digging in to do the hard work during the decluttering and organizing, we are able to help bring them through the process of being able to tell their own story again and understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’s’ of their journey.
At the beginning of your clients journey, gather the goals, the struggles, the daily habits, and an understanding of their loss & grief. More than anything, listen with intention. When the sorting & decluttering happens, encourage your client to hold each item in their hand. When this happens, they relive the memories that come with, they feel every emotion that rides over them, they see the importance that item was in their life at the moment it happened. They remember and a thankfulness awakens inside of them; one that gives them permission to let go of their things and make space for new memories or to store their sentimental belongings.
If sorting through their belongings trigger strong emotions, intentionally hold space for them to unburden the grief they carry and grieve through the moment. Allow them to honor the loss through this process. Expecting struggles with these clients gives us more grace to give. If they are stuck on making decisions, give them the permission they are not able to give to themselves in the moment.
Suggest sentimental storage options for the treasured & tougher decisions or donating to a charity or organization that may benefit from their gift. Sometimes, focusing on different areas of the house will aid as they are able to see what a difference an uncluttered & organized space feels like.
During these sessions, you can expect hearts being poured out to you. Stories are shared, struggles are listened to, victories big + small celebrated. Slowly, while the client touches, sorts, and declutters, the peeling of doubts is happening. The doubts that eat at them saying they can’t discover the treasure of freedom in their own house again.
The hard work that goes into each client’s journey is peeling back the layers bit by bit to get behind the feelings that keep them struggling with disorganization. This is the stage where we get to help our clients move one more step closer toward wholeness.
We help them celebrate through their grief & their glories.
Rounding up to the end of their journey; we witness the magic of them coming alive. The childish excitement and giddiness escapes from their eyes and pours out of their words of praise. We see their hearts bursting open in the freedom we helped bring them to.
The fullness of surrender restores the soul. Liberation and relief float around; pouring out of the soul like honey, so smooth and raw like. So organically. This is where the magic happens. This is where we as the professionals gather up our hope once again that this process actually works. It produces life changing results.
It doesn’t have to be today, nor tomorrow. But, one day, be the one to offer hope to those who struggle with disorganization. Offer a hand to those who cannot speak up for themselves yet. Offer an ear to those who fight to survive in their own minds & spaces every day.
Be their dream coming alive.