Fly with the Phoenix

Taking out your trash

Friday is trash collection day where I live. Because I spent most of last week cleaning up my home following my husband’s moving out, there was a lot of trash. One of the items I hauled to the curb was a memory of our wedding.It hung over our bed, a drawing of a bride and groom, personalized with our names and wedding date and signed by wedding guests. I’d taken it down and hid it behind my bedroom door for a few days, but it nagged at me, a closeted reminder of my failed marriage. I dragged it downstairs and put it in the garage, wrestling with myself over whether to keep it or get rid of it. Thursday night, I carried it to the curb where it sat through the night, unloved and unwanted.

Talk about symbolism.

With it when the good wishes of friends and family, hopes for our happy future, dreams of a blended and bonded family. When I drove past this framed failure on my way to work, I literally told it goodbye.

Am I crazy? Well, I guess you can make up your own minds about that, but I think people who are grieving (like myself) have to clean out their junk, both physical and emotional.

When I cleaned out dresser drawers of his unwanted socks, scraps of paper and such, I not only got rid of some physical reminders of my husband–which was exceedingly painful–I paved the way to begin clearing my emotional bins. This isn’t to say I’m going to pretend I never knew him, but I can start to release old disappointments and other negative feelings.

Are you grieving over a loss due to divorce, death or another form of separation? Maybe these few suggestions will be helpful to you:

  • At the earliest time you feel comfortable, go through closets and drawers to discard your loved ones belongings. Ask a friend to help you if you don’t want to do this task alone. Donate as much as you can to charity because this will help you to associate something positive with the person you’ve lost.
  • Take some time and a little money to update your home. Redo your bedroom in such a way as to make you feel relaxed and comfortable. Decorate the living room in a fresh look. This nesting process helps you gather what you love around yourself, bringing comfort and security.
  • You’re going to likely find remembrances in your home of your loved one. Tonight for example, I found a couple of boxes of personal items he left behind. When this happens, stop and allow time to feel the associated emotions. If you want to cry, do it, then if you can, allow a good memory of the person to come forward. Don’t dwell, just let it happen, smile and give thanks before going on with your business.

Grief is a normal reaction to loss. The cycle is different for everyone. If you would like some resources to use during your grief journey, email me at


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