The hard things

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I am the type of person who likes to get the hard things over with first so I can better enjoy the rest of an experience. Saturday I realized that held true even in mowing the lawn. When I push the mower, I want to tackle the areas with obstacles first, leaving the easy parts for last. This desire may not always leave the prettiest pattern or make sense to any neighbors watching me. However, I do veer off in odd directions while doing the lawn so I can put the hard part behind me and look forward to the easier straight rows as I finish.

Meals hold the same desire for me. If there is food that I like considerably less than the rest, I choose to tackle that and clean my plate of it first, leaving bites of my favorite food for the end of the meal. I figure the lingering taste in my mouth should be the yummiest.

Unfortunately, as you travel through grief, the order in which you face challenges and tasks is not always yours to choose. Pressures to decide on the service, on housing, and cleaning out items are just a few of the decisions you are expected to handle – often times before you feel equipped and able to do so.

How can you deal with those parts of your journey that you dread and wish to avoid? Is it wise to hurry through the unpleasant and difficult tasks that only those walking a grief journey can understand? While I stated earlier that I tend to want to get the hard things finished first, I have learned that rushing through certain tasks while walking through loss is not always for the best.

It is important to realize the value of taking your time on certain things. Going through closets and drawers is one job that can actually bring pleasure and make for treasured memories when handled at the right time. If these tasks are rushed in order to just get them out of the way, regret may be felt later.

It took me a couple of years to finally go through all of the clothes and make decisions on what to do with certain items that belonged to Alan. While they had been packed away in boxes for months, I realized that any rash actions could not be reversed. Not desiring any regrets, I took my time dealing with his things and simply kept them stored in boxes at the bottom of my closet. Friends offered to come help. However, I chose a time when I could be alone and spend time smelling, touching, and caressing his clothing – saying a final farewell.

Are there certain things that you dread? Have you been putting off tasks that you fear will be too painful? I want to encourage you to take your time. As long as the tasks that await your attention do not keep you from living a full life today, there is little reason to rush. While it will be necessary to eventually give yourself closure and face the hard things, determining that timetable is up to you.

Until next time –

Karen

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Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

“Winterizing” for Grief

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The upcoming winter months require us to plan and get our houses in order. As the daylight hours get shorter and the chill sets in, there are certain chores that are required. Furnace filters need to be inspected and cleaned. Hoses are rolled up and put away until spring. Leaf piles are raked, bagged and carted away. Warmer clothing unpacked, aired out and placed in closets. Winterizing our homes is a necessary chore. The same can be said in “Winterizing” for grief.

When we deal with grief, the days certainly seem darker as we face the loss of loved ones. Finding some form of light can be a challenge as we maneuver our way through uncharted waters and uncertain turns. Remembering that Jesus desires to be our source of light comforts me. No matter how dark my future may seem, Jesus can brighten my dimmed vision and provide hope.

There will be parts of life that need to be inspected and cleaned up as we figure out how to live differently. Inevitably there will be papers to sign, files to organize, and closets to clear out. Some tasks will require our immediate attention while others can mercifully wait until we are stronger and better able to handle the job. Not allowing yourself to be rushed and pressured into clearing out and cleaning up is important in order to avoid later regrets.

When we are allowed to tackle changes on our own time-table, chances are they will not seem so overwhelming. In fact, it is possible we may be able to make and cherish special memories while accomplishing our “winterizing” endeavors. I know going through and packing up my husband’s clothes was extremely difficult. It took me over two years before I could face going through his closet since doing so made everything seem final.

I dealt with conflicting guilt as I looked at his things. Giving them away seemed to say I was forgetting him and was ready to say good-bye forever. Hanging onto them longer felt like a waste of good items that I know others could use and benefit in receiving. Continually looking at his things was painful though. This war waged on until I was ready to truly accept the fact that his clothing was not what I remembered or held dear. The memories of the years we spent together are the precious things I will cherish.

Friends had offered to help with the daunting job of clearing out his closet. However, I finally chose to do it on my own one afternoon. By being alone, I was able to take my time, cry if I wanted to, and bury my nose in his shirts without feeling silly and self-conscious as I breathed in his scent. Looking back on it now, I am very grateful that I did not rush this final task. I handled it on my own terms, in my own way and made my own memories for a lifetime.

If you are struggling with difficult decisions that are seemingly pulling you in opposite directions, be encouraged. Only you can determine the right time to “winterize” your life in dealing with grief. As long as you are seeking to heal and striving to honor your loved one as you take care of yourself, you are on the right path.

May your find hope and strength for the days ahead as you tackle the job of “winterizing” for grief.

Until next time –

Karen