Today is the three year anniversary of my dad’s death. Although he was a fairly successful Washington, DC lawyer, he struggled with a dependency on alcohol for at least as long as I knew him. Alcoholism runs on both sides of my family, and because of that, I am grateful that I don’t have a compulsion to drink alcohol myself. Yet as everyone knows, alcoholism effects everyone in the family. I am very grateful for the lessons that I have learned through growing up in my family.
Alcoholism is known to be the Disease of Connection, or the Disease of Isolation, depending on which way you are looking at it. Addicts deeply want to connect with others, yet they often aren’t able to establish healthy and meaningful emotional bonds. Due to the global pandemic, our entire world has been forced to confront our connection with others. For some who live alone, the sense of isolation from others could be just peachy, or it could be bringing a lot of grief to the surface. For those who live with others, you may have filled your life with “being busy” to avoid confronting the fact that there may be some serious conflicts going on with the people you live with. But I’ve also been hearing and seeing some really lovely things about friends connecting, reaching out, being present, having meaningful conversations, and really enjoying each other’s company. But for everyone, the isolation has probably put a magnifying glass on your identity. What do you do when you are in isolation? Do you anesthetize yourself with compulsive behavior, or are you able to cultivate presence and empathy for yourself? I know I do my fair share of eating chocolate and scrolling through my phone, but I am also making the most of this time by engaging in creative projects, physical fitness, and personal development.
With the entire world experiencing grief, in one way or another, it’s almost like a huge window has been opened, to allow for people to do some healthy grief releasing work. Several years ago, right before I even knew my dad was going to die, I met a woman named Rhonda Frachiseur, who is a Grief Recovery Specialist. She recommended a book called The Grief Recovery Handbook. In this book, they identify the following myths about dealing with loss:
As a Professional Home Organizer, my main job is not actually to help people organize their homes. It’s about helping them process grief. Each of these false ways of processing grief lends itself to more clutter and confusion. I’ll show you why.
If you are experiencing unresolved grief in your home, you are not alone. This is universal. Grief morphs, changes, moves. New grief comes up. It is a continual cycle which will need to get tended to on a reoccurring basis. But by shifting the perspective from seeing piles of papers, a basement of boxes, and a garage of jumbled tools and thinking you are lazy, bad, and deserve to be shamed, see if you can have compassion for the piles, boxes and jumbles. See what it’s like to spend time with them (the piles, boxes and jumbles), almost as if you are sitting with a small child who is expressing their pain. An incredible amount of healing can happen through the process of decluttering. Decluttering includes a combination of action (physical and mental), spiritual allowing, understanding, cleansing, and repairing. But decluttering also encompasses the very necessary empathetic component to processing grief. Sitting with yourself (and possibly someone else) and experiencing these emotions as they come up, without judgement.
As a Professional Organizer, a big part of what I do is providing emotional support. Sometimes the work is more hands on, and emotional support is purely silent, or through indirect conversation about other topics. Many times, my clients just need someone to sit with them, free from judgement, as they sort through their boxes. I am now working with clients virtually, via FaceTime or Skype, with people all over the country. Virtual sessions have many benefits for my clients.
I am offering an introductory 1-hour Virtual Organizing session for $75. Subscribe to the Seattle Sparkle newsletter and get an additional 20% off your first Virtual Organizing package. April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and I will do another blog post for Adult Children of Alcoholics. Stay tuned!
Please join our Facebook group, Declutter and Organize with Seattle Sparkle, and let us know if you need any support as you declutter.