Part of the reason for this blog is to share my journey, so that when you work with me, you get that I’ve been there. We all have areas in our lives that are extremely painful, and I wanted to share what has been the hardest declutter for me. When decluttering your home, Marie Kondo suggests leaving the emotional stuff to last. There’s a reason for it!
I’ve been gradually decluttering my house for a while, and with Dad’s stuff now looking for space, I’m revisiting each room. I’ve been decluttering even more, to pare back what we have. In doing this in our bedroom, I tackled the one box that I have avoided like the plague since I started.
The hardest declutter
It’s a box that is simply labeled “Emma”.
Emma was my daughter. She was stillborn in 2005. If you’ve ever had a child, you’ll understand that when you prepare for it’s arrival, you buy, or are given, a range of different things from cribs to clothes. Most of the practical stuff that we’d bought online, and had delivered to our house. After Emma was born, we were able to return most of this stuff to the shop. What was in the box was everything else.
This time was the most painful time of my life. So you can imagine, re-visiting the box would be like opening an old wound.
As it happens, the box contained not just the clothes that Emma wore in hospital (she was buried in a beautiful christening gown), but also the medical records, scan images and keepsake things that the midwives saved for us. I’d also kept the bag the christening gown came in and a few other things.
Focus on what sparks joy
As I went through everything, I focused on what sparked joy. Whilst losing Emma was heartbreaking, she also gave me joy. Up until that point I thought we couldn’t have kids, and in the weeks before she was conceived, we were due to meet social workers to start the adoption process. There are some people who would advocate decluttering everything, because it’s holding us back in time. And they may well be right.
However, to me that would mean not acknowledging her presence and the impact that Emma had. Unlike my Mum who had a lifetime of things that she had accumulated, there was very little evidence that Emma even existed. Up until recently, you didn’t even get a birth/death certificate for a stillborn child. It was like the child never existed. Except that as the person who carries that child, you know that he/she/they did.
In the end, I kept one outfit, Emma’s scan images and the keepsakes that the midwives gave us. Everything else was decluttered. What was left filled a box a third of the size. Most importantly though, it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be, and I can look at the things in the keepsake box and remember the joy I felt at being pregnant for the first time.
There may well be stuff in your home that holds a particularly painful memory. If you need some support to go through it, give me a shout. I know how hard it can be, and we can work through it together.
Take care for now.