Not in a million years would I have thought that clearing out my late husband’s belongings would get me feeling lighter and assist in my healing. After all, I was removing his things from my life. There were emotions, memories, and stories attached. Our stories.
But, it did just that. As hard as it was to do, it brought about a lightness and much needed emotional healing. When we are able to let go of the attachment to things, we are able to let go of the pain.
Our shared times are lost forever
The times we shared together alone are lost forever. It’s a part of me only he knew. That part of myself and my story died with him. There is nobody to remind me of it. To help me relive those moments or to say, “do you remember when….”. It’s gone! All gone.
Our shared story is gone and that made going through and clearing my husband’s belongings both overwhelming and emotionally challenging. For me, it wasn’t the possession itself so much as it was the memory attached to it that made it hard to let go. I felt as though getting rid of certain things, would also get rid of the memory. In some cases it did. In others, not so much.
Into the first clearing, I went
Unfortunately, the first time I had to sort and clear out things, I just wasn’t ready. Yet, it was necessary. Six months after his death, I found myself having to sell and move from the home we shared. Into a much smaller place. With no room for everything.
As I write, I am trying to hard to dig back into the past and pull out the memories of going through the house and all I can get to is giving away the furniture that I knew wouldn’t fit into my new home. Calling places to see where I could donate it in hopes it would bring some light to someone else as I struggled in the dark.
It’s like the big dense fog that covered my entire life at that time.
One thing I do remembers is that enlisting the help and support of my dear friends made all the difference in the world. We sorted, told stories, laughed and cried. I shared memories and emotions and they listened without judgment or making decisions for me unless I asked. I felt so blessed.
Decisions are just so dang hard
It’s not easy deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. With some things, it was an easy drop into the ‘get rid of pile’. For others, I had to ask myself, “What stories or memories are behind it?”.
Not everything will have a connection or bring about an emotion. It’s those that do, we need to pay close attention to. Those are the belongings that are hardest to let go of. It’s the remembering and telling or writing about the story or emotion that’s connected to the object that helps us let go. Therefore, it’s the releasing that leads to feeling lighter.
Another round of clearing
Over the years, it took me several rounds to clear Jeff’s belongings and the things we shared. I decided that was ok. The next round of clearing was 2 years later when Jeff’s son was coming to get some of his things. For some reason, I felt the need to just do it alone. To be blunt and very honest – it sucked! Big Time!
I remember spending hours upon hours opening boxes that hadn’t been opened since my move, looking at things and repacking them. I can’t describe the level of emotions that came up for me. As I processed each emotion, I kept telling myself that it was just stuff. All the important memories would remain in my heart. I told myself that life was waiting for me on the other side. After I finished, I was feeling lighter!
In spite of all my hard work, there were still things I was unable to let go of. Like the fishing and camping gear! Oh, the memories we created with that gear. Not to mention the homebrewing beer stuff. I decided from the beginning – it was staying. All of it. There were too many stories and memories I wasn’t ready to deal with at that point. Besides, I still had our boat. I might wanna go camping and brew beer.
The end of clearing all which held me back
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally realized, I wouldn’t’ be using the camping or the beer brewing gear again. I gave it to my son. I also gave Jeff’s Christmas cactus, he had given to his grandmother years before, to his daughter. Of course, I kept a snippet and smile when it blooms.
My last clearing was just over a year ago when I decided to move to San Diego. Eight years after his passing. That’s when I finally sold the fishing gear and Jeff’s Mustang Convertible. The car just wasn’t going to make it to San Diego and I was never going to use that fishing gear again. I am not sure which of the two were the hardest to get rid of. I guess it doesn’t matter. Healing and feeling lighter is what matters the most.
What my dearest remaining possessions symbolize
Now after 9 years I only have a few things left that were Jeff’s and a few that he gave me or we accumulated together or he gave me. My dearest possession is his Bible. It’s filled with handwritten notes and scriptures. I touch it, read it and just hold it sometimes. Oh, the comfort I get from that Bible is amazing
The Bible – A symbol of faith, hope, and connection.
Just like the story about my antique Hoosier cabinet. It’s one of the other items I have kept and use daily. It was in pieces. We spent countless hours in our garage sanding, putting it back together and refinishing it to its glory.
The Hoosier cabinet – A symbol of new beginnings.
Remember that snippet of the Christmas Cactus I kept? – That’s a symbol of everlasting life!
So you see, even though most of Jeff’s belongings and those we shared are now gone, I still have beautiful memories without all the attached emotional pain. All the important things I kept have deep meaning. I pull them out when I want to be close to him. Once in a while, they bring and tears from missing him. But most of the time, they warm my heart and make me smile.
The one thing that will always remain true and constant – I don’t ever have to give back or up – is the love we shared for one another. The memories we made together!
Ultimately, I am feeling lighter!
What Are Your Next Steps?
STEP 1 LET ME HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Have you cleared out your loved one’s belongings? Are you feeling lighter as you go through things? If not, does my experience give you hope that you too can feel lighter?
Please comment below
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