Suddenly Solo? Simplify Your Surroundings!

In the wake of a divorce or the loss of a spouse, there is an acceptable (and expected) period of “mourning” during which time things seem to stand still.  After time passes, and when you feel up to it, we suggest that you continue the healing process by de-cluttering your environment.

De-cluttering has a salutary effect by “opening” up your living space and providing you with an opportunity to achieve some real closure.  Remember, we are not talking about packing up a house for a move – that may come later.  De-cluttering is far faster and it can achieve some very positive results for you on many levels. De-cluttering does not require you to discard anything.  Just put it away and out of sight. If you don’t have storage space, investigate a local facility. Here are some tips to help you through the process:

Get Supplies.  You can save some money on “newspaper” packing by checking if local community newspapers have unprinted paper rolls for sale.  Boxes are available at storage facilities, but ask around and see if someone is moving in to the area – they would likely be happy to give you their supplies for nothing.  Small boxes are better than large ones for de-cluttering.  They will weigh less and by filling up quicker, you’ll feel like you’re doing more.

Take baby steps.  Plan to do one area at a time and then stop.  By compartmentalizing the project, it will be more manageable for you and not seem so overwhelming.

Do the most visible areas first.  For example, the entrance hallway may have accumulated lots of “knick-knacks” that you don’t relate to or don’t want to see as the first thing when you come into your home.  Living rooms, TV areas and dining spaces are all “in your face,” so go after these early in the project.

Give yourself extra time for the bedroom.  It is only natural to be somewhat emotional in this part of the house.  Try and remember that you are now embarking on a new phase of your life and keep only genuinely treasured items out.  It will help you to make retention decisions by knowing you aren’t “throwing things out” necessarily – only storing them for now.

Bathrooms are different.   Unlike the other areas, you will more likely be discarding things outright.  Old prescriptions, no longer needed toiletries (hers!), hair brushes, etc. should be put into trash bags and taken to appropriate disposal facilities (many municipalities have special drop-offs for medicines).

Clothing closets.  Think Good Will or the Salvation Army here.  Her old garments with their scent of faded perfume will only make you sadder than you already are.  Ask your children if they want anything first, then have the rest picked up.  This is a good time for you to go through your closets as well.

Label all the boxes carefully and date them.  Make a note on your calendar to review the boxes in a year’s time and see if you want to continue holding onto them for any reason then.

A de-cluttered space will actually seem more spacious and it will soon become “your” space.  For even more help on de-cluttering and moving tips, check out


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