When my husband died in 2015, I was completely overwhelmed. I was anxious. I was suddenly terrified that I would die too and leave our children to be orphans. I was depressed. I experienced PTSD. I was waking up every day feeling like I was drowning under a load of emotional baggage, trauma, and horror that I could never climb out from under.
One day just weeks after he died I stood looking around our house. I felt an awful dark dread come over me. I didn't know how I was going to take care of our two young children, dog, cat, house, vehicles, and everything else that makes up a life......all by myself without him. I knew I would now have to learn to mow the lawn, shovel the snow, take care of things when they broke in our house, and so much more that he did all of those years we were together. I was suddenly a widow and had to go through my husbands belongings and decide what to do with them. I had to keep up parts of his life like feeding the birds and our big garden....for our kids. I was drowning in my grief and the extra responsibilites were pushing on my shoulders until I couldn't breathe.
That day I decided to go simple. I got out some boxes and started going through our home and packing up anything that I hadn't used in the past year, anything that didn't bring me joy, anything that I didn't love. I got rid of almost every knick-knack and decoration that I own. I went from 5 tubs of Chrismas decorations to one. I went through my closet and got rid of clothes that I knew I could never wear again because they reminded me of him and other clothes that were not going to fit into my new life as a solo parent. I went from owning 20 coffee cups to 5. I sold dishes that I was never going to use. I simplified my kids toys down to their absolute favorites and the classics that get played with every day like legos, blocks, games, and books.
Next was the garage. Of course I kept all of my husbands tools and things that were wonderful reminders of him like his workboots. But other things? His random boxes of broken parts and rusty nails? I couldn't breathe with those boxes staring at me. I got rid of them. I donated things. I sold things. I gave things to close friends that were my husbands when I could feel him nudging me to do so. I gave my kids outgrown toys, books, and outdoor stuff to very close friends.
My basement storage room is now empty. How does this make me feel? It makes me feel free. I am free of taking care of all of that extra stuff. It makes me feel like I could move if I wanted to and it wouldn't be overwhelming.
What did this do for my grief? It soothed it. No, searching for simplicity can't heal your grief but it can aide in calming it down a bit. I now have less stuff to worry about, take care of, sort, and dust and can completely focus on my children and my work. Sitting in my living room with less knick knacks in it makes me feel like I can breathe on the days that my grief is sitting on my chest. I'm not telling you to throw out all your stuff. It's a very personal choice. I felt an overwhelming need to do this after my husband died and it made me feel "better". It soothed my anxiety, and my sadness. It gave me something active to do in those first months when my brain was scrambled, I wanted to hide away from the world, and I couldn't sit still.
Simplicity can soothe your grief.
I chose simplicity not only in what I own but in my everyday life. To me....nature is part of this simplicity. Getting outside and breathing fresh air when my grief is pulling me down......it's a simple and yet magical way of soothing my heart. I chose simplicity in the way that I raise my children. I want to feel more alive because death knocked on my door and I have found that by trying to live a more simplified life......I feel more alive. I feel closer to my soul. I feel closer to God, the universe, divine energy.....whatever you want to call it. I don't need much for a happy life. A roof over my head, books, one good coffee mug, hiking boots, my children, my dogs, and my laptop for my writing and reaching the world. When my husband died we owned 3 vehicles. I now own one and that's plenty. I couldn't go from being in a partnership to being a grieving widow with very young children and take care of all of that stuff so I set that stuff free and in turn in soothed my grief more than I ever knew it would in the beginning.
You're now more likely to find me in jeans and a flannel shirt and tank top than anything else because it's simple and it feels like me. I donated most of my husband clothes which was very, very hard for me but it was the right thing to do. I kept some favorites, his hunting clothes for our son, and his old pair of work Carhartts. The rest of those clothes? After about a year they weren't any longer aiding in my personal grief healing. I would almost daily go into my basement, get out those clothes, lay on the floor with them and wail. It was too much of a trigger for me so with my husband's voice in my head saying, "Nik, give those old jeans to some guy who needs them. It's ok. It doesn't mean you don't love me anymore. Do what feels right, Nik. But hey, keep my dirty farm hat, ok?"
Choosing simplicity has helped to soothe my grief over the past almost 2 1/2 years. I don't regret anything that I sold, donated, or gave away. I can breathe. I feel free. And on the days that my grief returns, I don't have all those knick knacks to dust and I can take care of myself and that matters more to me than all of that stuff because I need to be alive, healthy, happy, and joyful to be able to raise my two beautiful kids.
"Simplicity reveals the real beauty of life"
Find small ways to simplify your life and you just might find that it helps to soothe your grieving heart.
All my love, Nik