Rearranging from the Outside In


BY: Susan Hamme, LSW

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss

​This season is traditionally marked as the season of new beginnings, fresh starts and commitment to our resolutions and goals.

For those who are grieving, the relief of having survived the holidays may have worn off. They are looking at spring and questioning “now what?” During the first year of grief try to avoid big life-changing decisions. You may not have the energy to look beyond the end of today.

Consider embracing the potential hope of this season in a manageable way. Start small and look around outside yourself to see if it initiates a little bit of change and healing inside. an article about how rearranging external surroundings creates a pleasant change in perspective, mood and creativity.

When I read this, I called my mother, who was famous for rearranging multiple times a year. Her response to me was, “Sometimes you just need for things to look different.” For her it was a tool for coping that allowed her to feel in control of something. “The furniture stays where you put it.”

It also made her feel that she had accomplished something and it always changed says that when you place things where you want them, it can help you achieve inner and outer harmony. What about when you are grieving? What if the things in the house are a combination of yours and your loved one who died? As mentioned before, start small!

There can be guilty feelings associated with removing or moving things that belonged to the deceased. Start by simply moving things around. Many people still have medical supplies lying around. Do those remind you of the life or the illness of your loved one? Perhaps they could be moved out of sight for now. For many, it is the chair in the living room where their loved one always sat. How hard it is to come into that room every day and want or expect to see him or her sitting there. Perhaps moving the chair to area or another room is the place to start.

If it can’t be moved, a new pillow, cover or blanket may help. For many who are bereaved, being able to sleep again in the bedroom is prompted by a little rearranging or a new comforter. Some may choose to remove the pictures, flowers, and cards gathered from the months surrounding the funeral and replace those with pictures of your loved one that remind you of great times spent together. A fresh coat of paint, cleaned carpets, a new tablecloth, or a few different pictures on the wall may make an enormous difference.

What begins to happen is that you become more connected to the things that you like and that make you happy. Give it a try. Pick a room or even a corner and get started. You may find a part of yourself that has been too busy, too tired, or too overwhelmed to show up.

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