I was recently helping a client remove the clutter from her living room when she got stumped by a glass cube photo of her very recent ex-husband. She turned to me and said, “I can’t make up my mind. Part of me wants to keep this since I had it made of him before he left for deployment early in our marriage, and part of me wants to just throw this at his head!”
This is not an uncommon question I get from recently divorced clients or those who have had any recent loss in their life, such as the loss of a job or a parent. Disorganization often occurs when there is a major change in any person’s life. Sometimes my clients are introducing a lot of new items into their home that they have inherited, or they are trying to purge a partner’s items from their space. Either way, there is a period of mourning that needs to take place.
I usually guide my clients to pause and not make a decision at that time. I’ll have them put all the questionable items in a box outside of their main living space and schedule a time a year later to review the stuff again, preferably with an unbiased friend or professional organizer. We know that items carry memories and can be symbols of former achievements. If we rush the mourning period, we might regret getting rid of certain items. If we take the time to mourn, deciding what to purge becomes a lot easier. In one year (or sometimes five), my client (and her children) will be able to review the items created with her first husband (photo glass cubes and family portraits) from a less volatile perspective.
So if you are having a hard time getting rid of memory-filled items due to a recent loss, give yourself the time to pause, reflect, and reassess a year from now.