“Winterizing” for Grief


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 –