The Process of Restoring Peace
Updated: Apr 18, 2018
People often ask me, “How do people get where they are, and how do you help them?” The answer isn’t simple. For some, it’s having children and their life needs a reset; others have moved or are going through a divorce. While everyone’s story and circumstances are different, there are two clients I would like for you to meet.
I recently started working with Dan and Kelly*. They called me a few weeks ago to ask for my help and to share their story. Two or three years after marrying, they experienced the sudden loss of one of Kelly’s parents. Two years later one of Dan’s parents passed away, then the second. After that, and within six years of each other, they lost their remaining parent and two additional close relatives. Their prolonged grief was staggering as you can imagine. Both Dan and Kelly are busy professionals, and while staying on top of things at home was doable, grief gradually altered that stability.
After such a great loss, there was an understandable level of debilitating depression, which adversely affected the proper functioning of their home. Kelly began to shop to fill the void, and those items added to the pile. Over time, things became unmanageable and then the task of cleaning out and moving on felt too daunting and was avoided . . . avoided until there came a tipping point: the mental drain of being surrounded by all this "stuff" was taking a huge toll on the couple and completely sapping their energy. Dan and Kelly felt like hostages in their own home — trapped, embarrassed, and unable to let friends come over. That’s when they reached out for some assistance and called me.
When I arrived for our first appointment, they were glad to see me, but nervous and embarrassed too. We spoke more about their story and talked at length about their goals for the house. I was very encouraged to hear that both of them were on the same page and were ready to tackle their home together. This is a couple with great respect for one another, and that alone goes a long way in the process. While they both expressed frustrations about each other, they were able to do this openly and without animosity. Neither one was throwing the other "under the bus" of blame and shame.
Next, we toured the house, and each room proved to be in need of major cleaning out. Together we made a plan. A great deal was self-admittedly Kelly’s to clean out, so, agreed upon in advance of my arrival, Dan left us for the day so she and I could begin. One of the challenges they faced was stopping the shuffle game of moving things from room-to-room. I like to look at a project this size like a spill that needs cleaning up: begin with wiping up all the drops on the periphery and work your way into the heart of the problem. We chose to start with the front rooms of their house. Beginning that way gave a sense of immediate accomplishment. Clients need a place in their home where they can be free from sensory overload and see that yes, this can indeed be done! The other purpose is that as you go further into the ‘spill’, you need a place that has already been cleaned out to serve as a temporary staging area. Some rooms may be too cluttered to actually work in, and items need to be pulled out into a clutter free space to do the sorting and purging.
Kelly and I worked for 7 hours the first day and got an enormous amount done! She was able to see the process started and could already see the bigger picture. We set aside a small area to hold boxes (that had already been purged) of items that would go back into their proper places as we went along. Now that the front rooms were cleaned out, we set a series of appointments to work on the other rooms one-at-a-time. I left Dan and Kelly with small homework assignments and also reminded them to work within their comfort zones.
I am so excited to work with Dan and Kelly and know they are going to be successful for the following reasons:
They are committed to the process!
They are committed to making changes that keep all the work we do intact.
Both are on board and ready to do what needs to be done to reclaim their home. They are willing to put in the time and effort knowing this will take many hours of hard work.
The big picture is in view and both of them recognize this as a process starting with baby steps that lead to bigger steps.
Dan and Kelly are a TEAM. They respect each other, support one another and want the other to succeed.
As you go forth, if you know someone who has had a rough time and has perhaps had an experience similar to theirs, I ask that you be kind and have some grace about their situation. They have nothing to be ashamed of and my hope is that everyone who feels trapped by belongings will reach out and ask for the proper assistance. Reclaiming one’s space is enormously empowering! This lovely couple is on their way and I am very excited to be a part of their journey to find peace in their home. I look forward to sharing their story and its happy ending with you.
*Not their real names
Heather Shore is a professional organizer based in Cary North Carolina. She brings peace of mind to her clients one room at a time, with budget-friendly decluttering, no judgment, and a friendly disposition. Peace of Mind Decluttering services the Raleigh and Cary areas, with appointments for clients available in Wilmington for an additional fee.