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My grief story. Tips for downsizing after a loss.

text states grief is love coming out backward, photo of sky with tree tops

I felt anxious and apprehensive about picking up my dad’s cremains.

Would I be sad and cry once they placed his container in my arms?

Should I accept my husband’s offer to pick them up or have him accompany me?

In the end, I decided I’d do it after a client appointment since she lived near the funeral home.

When they handed the box over to me, dad’s cremains felt surprisingly heavy and comforting at the same time.  A bit surreal and a tad weird.

On the drive home “we” chatted about life and all the driving we once did to his doctor appointments.  Then we entered my home and I looked for the most appropriate place for dad.  Certainly not in a closet.

He’s cremains are only with me temporarily while my husband constructs and paints the burial urn. Eventually, dad will be buried next to my mom.

I love having his cremains in our home.  Is that weird?  It feels healing and comforting more than weird.

I haven’t found THE perfect place for him, I’ve found several.  I move his box of ashes around our house to places I know he’d like.

He’s sat at my puzzle table with me because he used to marvel at my ability to reassemble 1,000 mixed up jigsaw pieces.  When his favorite team, UW Badgers, is playing he’s in the comfortable recliner facing the tv.  He even kept me company as I sorted out his tax paperwork.

I know he would be honored that a special box is being created for him by a son-in-law he adored.  In fact, he’s been in the workshop “watching” my husband create the urn.  It’s pretty special.

Grief isn’t a predictable path nor is it identical to any other grief you’ve experienced. I encourage you to honor your own grief.

We don’t stop grieving or stop missing our loved ones but grief will change in its intensity.  There will be more ease.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t be sad after a certain period of time or that you need to get rid of your loved one’s stuff before you’re ready.

“Allow yourself to feel, deal and heal.” -Tiffany Roe

90 year old man with gray hair and glasses eating breakfast of eggs and sausage at a restaurant looking at the camera

It’s especially emotional and challenging to sort out and make decisions about your loved ones’ belongings. You’ll feel all kinds of feelings, don’t avoid them. Dealing with and sorting out their stuff is an important part of the healing process.

I’d like to provide some pro tips for downsizing after a loss.  I’ve helped dozens of clients through this process.

Be ready. You’ll probably won’t feel completely ready but ready enough to at least begin.  For some it’s immediate for others it may be many months or longer.

Ask for support.  Someone who isn’t uncomfortable with tears and a good listener because you’ll have memories you will want to share with them as you sort.  FYI, professional organizers are good listeners and don’t judge. You aren’t alone.

Start small and with the easy stuff.   Not the photographs, the letters or other extremely sentimental items.
Ask other family members if it is anything they want.  Text photos of the items in question to simplify this process.
When you find it hard to let go of an item, take a photograph for yourself and then let it go.

Choose a special charity to support with your donations.  Or choose a charity that is the most convenient for you. It feels good to bless others.

Take breaks.  Take care of yourself. Physical self-care and emotional self-care.

Get help if you’re overwhelmed and feel paralyzed. Friends, family or a professional will lighten your load and your burden. You deserve to have the support and it’ll be comforting to have a compassionate person by your side.

Grief is love coming out backward.

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