Dealing with Loss and Grief During the Holidays

Change and Transition, Grief: Death and Dying - End of Life Planning, Health and Medical, Holiday Organizing All Year Round, Inner Clutter: Consciousness Building and Self-Care, Relationships, Support System, Stress Management 3 Comments »

candle - red burning

This time of year brings up a lot of emotions for those dealing with loss and/or still in grief.

My father died 5 years ago this week after 3 weeks in ICU after falling backwards on the front steps and cracking his head. He never came out of the coma.

This wasn’t the first holiday season we spent in an ICUs or hospital over the years due to his or my moms surgeries.


While decorating and shopping, cooking and planning, there are many who will get stuck, stand paralyzed at times in pain and sadness, thoughts of the past and “if onlys”. There will be others who will run around frantically in a daze or trying to push the pain away. Still others sleep, or sit and sob.

There is no perfect way to grieve, but to grieve.


If you are dealing with loss this year, I want to offer you a few tips that can help ease the pain from time to time and help you move through your transition.

1. Your feelings are your feelings, and they are normal.

Recognize that all feelings associated with loss and change are normal: grief, hurt, fear, sadness, anger, remorse, guilt or despair. Some may be very open with their feelings, while others may be very private. It is however important to feel your feelings (stuffing them will cause them to show up side-ways through your body in symptoms of illness and pain.)

2. Move your feelings out by journaling.

journal 1 - illustration

Keeping loops of thoughts in our heads is exhausting, unproductive and creates more stress. Journaling, the simple act of writing down deep and personal reflections on paper is often helpful. This process is just for you. File them away in a dresser drawer and tear them up later is you like.

3. Talk with a supportive and caring person.

Whether you talk to your minister, a counselor or a friend, find someone who will listen to what you are going through without telling you to change or guiding you in or out of it — just listen. Sometimes finding someone who has experienced a similar experience is helpful too. Basically, you just need to talk it out and release the energy of emotions from your body, mind and soul.

4. Share the good times and stories.

“Do you remember when …” is often a great way to communicate how much you loved that person. Some stories may be sad, leading you to cry with others and embrace in loving arms. Some stories may lead you to remember and realize what an interesting and fascinating life your loved one led. Still others may be humorous, causing us to laugh and cry with tears of joy.

5. Photos and personal treasures.

Photos are an easy way to remember someone and tell the stories attached to that time or place. Photos and personal items are tangible and may also help us to remember and pay tribute to their memory. This activity may be done in private or with others.

6. Physical touch.

Make sure to be held and hugged during this time. We too easily forget that as humans we need touch.

7. Sleep, eat, rest.

Make sure to take care of yourself by getting enough sleep and rest and eating regularly. Don’t skip meals or pick at food. Your body needs nutrition more in times like this when your immune and adrenal systems are bombarded with stressors, emotional upheaval and pain. Keep taking your vitamins as well.

8. Meditate, pray and breathe.

Whatever way is your way to pray, meditate, be quiet and centered, do it often during this time. Some people read scriptures and sing, others sit in the quiet or in the sunshine just feeling the silence, others go for walks and let nature help in their letting go and healing.

9. Be kind to yourself.

Above all, be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to stop when you need to stop, cry when you need to cry, be angry when it shows up. It’s all part of the grief process that is normal and natural.

My thoughts go out to you this holiday season if you are feeling sadness over a loss.

Big hug, Kim


7 Thieves That Live In Your House: Thief #5

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Have you read the first 4 Thieves? If you‘ve read them and are doing the assignments I’ve set for you, you will be feeling really good right now! YEA!!! 🙂  Keep going!

Feedback coming is so great:

“So far, your “thieves” articles have jumpstarted me in areas I normally have just kept putting off. What a difference I’ve made in just the few weeks of your articles set up this way. I’ve been doing one thief at a time and I’m winning!!” ~ Thanks, Carol.

Patty wrote, “NO MORE STEALING FROM ME! Boy, your articles have really helped me put my foot down in my house about all this clutter baloney! Thanks!”

And from Maggie, “I’ve dug out years of stuff that the thieves have been piling up in my house! What a great difference I see already. My family is much happier too. Thanks, Kim!”

Now, onto Thief #5.  emotions - sad - crying - kleenex

Thief #5: The Past, Grief and Regrets (holding onto the past)

When you look at photos, a gift from someone, any items, jewelry or clothing you have that reminds you of another time, a person or situation that now brings you sadness, grief and pain, how much time and energy, joy and life are you losing?

Example: I’ve had clients who’ve lost pets who would feel sad and reminisce every time they saw the picture on their counter or came across something that was from the pet. In many cases these pets died years and decades ago. This is not healthy.

Grief has its place and takes time, but not a lifetime. And, it cannot rob your of YOUR life-time and that of your loved ones.

It takes at least a year of going through birthdays, anniversaries and other calendar events to deal with someone or something being gone or changed. But after year two and on there needs to be closure on many parts of the grief so that you can move on and not get stuck. Yes, always remember them, but don’t get stuck in thinking and reacting daily in pain.

What if it’s a child, spouse, sibling, friend or parent? Same thing. Yes, it will take a lifetime and your heart will never fully heal, of course. But, on a daily basis, life is now and those who are still around you need you to be here now with them too.


1. If you are stuck in grief over some loss, seek out a grief group or counselor to help you heal.

2. If you can put away some of the photos of the lost loved one – events or experiences that will never be the same again – that can be a very good step in the direction of healing, to give your mind and body a rest.

3. If you have regrets or resentments of loss or bad situations and items in your home that keep reminding you of it/them, or, worse yet, your entire home reminds you of this pain,

  • make amends where you still can,
  • forgive and let go,
  • seek help to resolve it,
  • clear the items that remind you,
  • redecorate and make you home fresh for you now,
  • and/or as drastic as it sounds, it might be time to move and get a fresh start.

4. Have only the items that are stories of the past that are happy and enjoyable. Store or get rid of the rest.

“Some people believe holding on and

hanging in there are signs of great strength.

However, there are times when it takes much more strength

to know when to let go and then do it.”

~ Ann Landers


Stop the thieves from stopping you. Jump into your messes and stresses and make the changes necessary to reorganize, redecide and recreate for a new you. No more waiting!

You really do have control over how much time, energy, etc. is robbed from you every moment. Taking control of what you can is paramount in living a more balanced, confident and happy life.


If  you just can’t get started, or stall out too often, I can help you set your priorities and stay the course to make the changes you desire by working with you as your Priority Coach. Get your Ticket To Shift here.

Oklahoma Tornado Survivor Finds Dog During TV Interview

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Wow! What a role model for being this calm, collected and grateful in such devastation and loss.

Prayers for more blessings and finds for all natural disaster victims worldwide.

I Have A New Article Published In Miss Kitty’s Journal For Red Hatter’s

Change and Transition, Find My Articles - Where I'm Published, Grief: Death and Dying - End of Life Planning, Sorting, Stress Management, Time and Money Management No Comments »

Miss Kitty's Jrnl Issue-17 - Spg-Smr 2013

Are you a Red Hatter?!

If you want to know what’s going on in the Red Hatter’s world, you must subscribe to Miss Kitty’s Journal to keep in the know! It’s a lovely, glossy magazine that shares so many ways Red Hat Lovers can travel, get together, learn, laugh and love life even more.


My article in this edition’s “The Success of Everyday Living” section is, ” How To Declutter, Downsize And Let Go Of Your Stuff.” This is important information at any age, but especially after 50.

Enjoy this Spring/Summer Edition ladies!


Steps to Take When Decluttering Items That Bring Up Emotions

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Do you find it hard to declutter the past, family items, memorabilia and such? You’re not alone.


Decluttering emotional areas and sentimental items is hard, often very hard. It takes longer and is more emotionally draining than decluttering the bathroom drawers or closets.

When I work with people to declutter the past they will often literally just stop moving and do what I call “trance.” They drift away and can’t pick up any more items. Their minds glaze over and all decision making stops. And, that’s why I’m there. To help them move past the past, one item, box or heap at a time.

Why it’s so hard

You are making a deliberate decisions and sometimes pain-filled choices to let go and start freeing yourself, and your home, from the weight of these things and the past. Be patient with yourself. Take time. Don’t let go of certain things if you are really having trouble with it.

You know the best answers for your own life. Sometimes you have to go with your gut. Sometimes you have to be brave.

Start small

  • one storage box of keepsakes
  • one lump of photos
  • a shelf of knick-knacks
  • a cupboard of old toys or clothes from your grown-up children

Sorting Containers

1. Things to keep (you may need to return to this box again and cull out at least one more time if you’ve kept too much)
2. To give to others (maybe to children, grandchildren, back to where it belongs)
3. Donation
4. Real trash

For each item you pick up, ask yourself these 4 questions: 

1. If my house burned down, would I miss this?

Actually, would I even know I had it? Asking this shocking question several times during any decluttering project really does help get our perspective in balance. We hardly remember that we have 80% of the stuff in our homes, especially from the past. So, if you really wouldn’t miss it or care about it, let it go. Burn Your House Down is also the title of my book and workshop on organizing.

2. Does this item mean something to me?

Often we keep things because we think we “should”. Or, because it is representative of good times, fun holidays, our now-grown children or people we love. But does the actual item, the thing you’re holding in your hand mean something to you?

If not, then the decision to remove it from your home should be simple. Decide whether to donate it or throw it away.

If the item has any life left in it, meaning someone else can use it, donate it.
Let the thrift store decide if it can have another go round or is truly trash worthy.
Don’t send stuff to the landfill that doesn’t have to be trash “yet.”

 3. What emotion does this item bring up?

If it does mean something to you, study the connected emotion for a moment.

  • What is it? Why do I feel it?
  • Do I have multiple items that rouse the same emotion? What if I kept one or two that are truly meaningful, instead of blindly keeping everything?
  • Can I take a photo of it and look at the photo from time to time, but let the item go?
  • If the emotion is painful, it’s a good time to release it so that you don’t keep bringing up the pain, grief, loss, regret, anger, etc.

If there is no strong emotional attachment you can more easily decide to remove it from your home.

4. Would you display the item in your home?

We all keep things that we wouldn’t display in our home. If you wouldn’t display it, then really examine your reasons for keeping it. (Remember, there is no right or wrong here. But the intention is to pare down and simplify these sentimental things.)


Once you’ve asked yourself these questions and decided whether to keep the item, donate it or throw it away – you can let go and be happy with yourself.

  • Let go of the guilt of removing it from your home.
  • Let go of the weight of the thing you are keeping.
  • Be proud that you are surrounding yourself and your loved ones with things that are truly meaningful.
  • Bring yourself into the present and the future you really want and desire.

PLAN B: If You’re Really Struggling…

If you’re really having difficulties letting go, you can box up the firm “maybes”, write the date on the box and 6 months later, if you haven’t missed or needed anything in the box, donate it, unopened. (Avoid this if possible though – you are more likely to hold on to things unnecessarily if you know there is a second-chance rule.)

There is no easy way to declutter and simplify sentimental items, but these questions should help as you move through your storage. Also, know that it does get easier. As you begin to feel lighter and happier in your newly simplified home, it will not be so difficult to let go of things. I promise!


If you’re really stuck and can’t seem to move forward on letting sentimental items go, I suggest

1. Help from a Professional Organizer like myself who can care for you in the process of your deciding, and

2. My book Letting Go With All Your Might as it has helped many others with this process. Find out more here (This book is available at most of my live programs too.)

Keys to Organize and Simplify Your Life

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Henry David Thoreau said, “Simplify. Simplify.”

To follow his lead, here are two important ways to deal with clutter, get and stay organized and enjoy your life more today.


Do you have lots of “stuff?” How’s that working for you?

The next time you want to add more stuff to your surroundings, remember this:

90% of life is maintenance!


Declutter more of the 90% to keep your life more simple.

Declutter and cull out what you don’t truly love, and what doesn’t truly love you back.

Declutter items that are not the special, enjoyable and necessary items surrounding you.

Say goodbye to things that don’t fit, are out of style, tattered or are unflattering. This goes for clothing, furniture, knick-knacks, and other possessions you’re not happy with.

Also, let go of pictures and memorabilia that emotionally upset you, make you sad, lonely, relive grief and lock you into the past. Store them away and let yourself move on.

Comedienne Phyllis Diller said, “Cleaning up after kids is like shoveling snow when it’s still snowing!” Organizing is a learned skill, a life-skill. Be a role model, help your children, your family to learn these skills too, and you’ll be in heaven!

PS – Thoreau died at only age 44. Boy, he did a lot back when things were simpler, and is known worldwide anyway!  He was an author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist and author of renowned book, Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. Whew! 

“Simplify. “

Holiday Blues: How’s Your Post-Holiday Mental Health?

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Mental Health care increases 30-35% during January and early February.

Over the past few decades, typically 80% of psychiatric and psychological problems are related to marriage and family, and the rest to professional and job conflicts. Now, we can add major financial debocals and recession and, and, and . . .

Here are some simple TO DO TIPS to manage post-holiday blues. 

. . . eat right.

. . . get plenty of rest.

. . . exercise regularly.

Do set realistic goals:

. . . organize your time.

. . . organize your space, stuff and things.

. . . make lists (use a notebook, not little pieces of paper!)

. . . prioritize.

. . . make a budget and follow it.

. . . set New Years Resolutions and Goals on which you can really follow-through and succeed.

. . . find ways to simplify your life on a daily basis (the “blues” can be directly related to feeling overwhelmed and getting little done on TO DO lists that are unrealistic to begin with.)

Let go of the past, embrace the new present and future.

Allow yourself to feel sad, lonely or melancholy when these feelings arise, these are normal feelings, particularly during and after the holidays – and before Valentine’s Day.

  • Do something for someone else.
  • Enjoy activities that are free.
  • Spend time with family and friends, people who care about you.
  • Spend time with new people or a different set of friends or family.
  • Contact someone with whom you have lost touch.
  • Give yourself a break: plan to prepare (or buy) one special meal, purchase one special gift, and take in one special event.
  • Complete small jobs and projects, or let them go.
  • Start a Gratitude Journal. Daily write 3-5 things you are grateful for.

Organize Around Holiday Health – When Grieving is an Issue

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Losses throughout the year of any kind, human, animal, health, wealth or of spirit can take an extra toll during the holiday weeks. Here are a few steps to take care of yourself during this time.

1. Make time to grieve.

Set aside time to really feel your feelings, cry your tears and let it all go where it needs to. Your body needs to mourn your loss or change all the way through.

2. Get support from others.

It’s not always easy to ask for help. Being “strong” isn’t smart. Being “human” is. Whether you talk to family or friends or see a counselor or minister, you will find layers of grief just waiting to spring forth when you talk to someone else and tell your story once more.

3. Develop skills that help you remember you are a worthwhile person.

You can let grief control you and fall into a deep depression or illness, chipping away at your self worth; you can ignore and deny it and stay busy, keeping your “mind off of it”; or, you can gain knowledge of how to embrace your pain and grow positively from it.

4. Create a physical environment that supports rather than stresses you.

During the mourning process stress levels increase. You need to create a space where you feel safe, comfortable, quiet when you need it and nurtured, even if only by yourself.

5. Take care of yourself.

There are physical as well as emotional aspects of grief. Exercise increases your strength and stamina and reduces your stress. Healthy eating gives your body the good nourishment it needs. Find quiet time. Schedule a massage to stay connected with your body.

Bottom line, grief is hard. Make sure to take the time to face it and deal with it, otherwise it will affect you for years to come.

Declutter Your Past – Make Room For Your Present

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You may know the Bible story about Lot’s wife. God told her not to look back on her village and “past” life or she’d turn to a pillar of salt. Well, she looked back.

Every time your attention is distracted into the past you turn to a pillar of salt. Your thoughts and attention literally “crystallize” (like rock salt) into “what was,” not “what IS.” You get stuck in old stories and memories; mental movies unable to stay HERE NOW, open to your PRESENT and move forward.

Most people today are walking, talking pillars of salt. Filled with thoughts, looping memories of regret, remorse, sadness, grief… how do you do this? Do you have items in your home, in your life, or stories that you tell that make you constantly “look back” to your past?

Look around your house right now. What photo’s, greeting cards, knick-knacks, letters, emails, articles of clothing, jewelry, books, gifts, etc. drag your attention into the past? Moreover, into a negative past filled with, “Why me?”, “Why them?”, “Should have’s,” etc.

You can’t open your PRESENT in the PAST! Stay present in your present. Open your present NOW, in the PRESENT!

                                     “Whatever the price, identify it now.
             What will you have to go through to get where you want to be?
      There is a price you can pay to be free of the situation once and for all.
               It may be a fantastic price or a tiny one — but there is a price.”

                  ~ Harry Browne, 1933-, American Financial Advisor, Writer

Life is about learning from our past and living in the NOW, creating plans for a better FUTURE. It’s time to LET GO (maybe, with all your might!) of whatever is not true for you anymore.

Will “letting go” be easy? Some will, some will not. But decluttering and reclaiming your space for your HERE and NOW “conscious” life is a very important decision and act to do for yourself – it’s in fact a very selfish act… good for you! Reclaim your home and environment as yours.

Grieve your grief, resolve your areas/emotions incomplete and move on, no matter what it was (“was” is the operative word here.) Reset your energy for TODAY and your wonderful FUTURE. LET GO of anything, anyone, any thought, any statements and old stories that keeps dragging you backwards.

                                                 “The world is a great mirror.
                                          It reflects back to you what you are.
                          If you are loving, if you are friendly, if you are helpful,

                      The world will prove loving and friendly and helpful to you.
                                                 The world is what you are.”

                                                          ~ Thomas Dreier

Upon meeting a person I can pick up if they’re in grief or depression, and I certainly know upon just a few steps into a house if a person is still stuck in their past. I have worked with clients to declutter their outer stuff only to walk, sit and talk about their “inner” stuff – emotions, fears, frustrations, stuck places. Your outer world is a manifestation of your inner world. Start with either. Clean up one and the other will “shift.”

So, look at everything you have and if you get a twinge of remorse, grief, negative longing, sadness, etc., pack it away in storage (some are family heirlooms, etc.) or get rid of it. You can’t have joy and pain the in the same place at the same time. Choose one or the other: why wouldn’t you choose joy?!


Holiday Stress Be Gone! Keys To A Better Holiday Season

Change and Transition, Goal Setting and Success, Grief: Death and Dying - End of Life Planning, Holiday Organizing All Year Round, Stress Management, Time and Money Management 1 Comment »
Are your holidays going to be all you wished for this year?
Here’s one “secret” I want to share with you. They won’t  .  .  .  if all you’re doing is wishing!
Life doesn’t happen just because of our wishing and hoping. We have to do our part to intentionally create the holidays we want.
How do you do that?
I’m excited to tell you! Click here and get my free-call replay, “The 3 Secrets to a Stress-Free Holiday.”
Get helpful tips and ideas for a better, or much better holiday season starting now!
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