Click on the keywords to read relevant articles

Decluttering Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally: Navigating Loss and Grief with Purpose

Decluttering Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally: Navigating Loss and Grief with Purpose

April 05, 20248 min read

When life gets tough and you feel overwhelmed by grief emotions such as sadness, regret, guilt, anger and unforgiveness, it can be hard to keep your thoughts and things organised. Our inner and outer environments can reflect and impact each other. Whether someone you love has passed away, you've lost an important relationship, or something you were hoping for didn't happen, it can feel like too much to handle. But here's what I have learned: getting rid of things you don't need anymore, organising your thoughts, and dealing with your feelings can actually help you feel better and move forward after your loss.

I've seen how this works in my job as a Grief Specialist, helping people who are struggling with loss and grief. I've learned some tips along the way, and I want to share them with you. In this article, I'll show you simple ways to tidy up your space, clear your mind, and sort out your feelings, even when life feels really tough.


When you're down, it's easy for things to get messy. Sometimes clients use shopping as a self-soothing behaviour. This helps temporarily by providing a distraction but doesn’t deal with the root cause of the pain. Your room might be full of things you don't need or want anymore. Your mind might feel cluttered with thoughts that won't go away. And your heart might feel heavy with grief emotions and feeling lost and hopeless. Sometimes you may even wonder what the point of going on is. All of these physical, mental, emotional and spiritual messes and clutter can make you feel even worse.

I had a client who didn’t realise that grief is not only negative but also cumulative. She confessed that sometimes, she had to force herself to carry on but life just felt too hard and it would be too easy to just give up. After working together, she regained her peace and passion for life. She started to take better care of herself and to take responsibility for creating moments of love, joy and peace for herself and her family.


cleaning up your room and your life

Let's start with your physical space. Taking the time to make your bed and tidy up your room can make a big difference in how you feel. Here are some simple steps to get started. If you are not naturally a tidy person, decluttering can feel really difficult. There are lots of tips on Youtube and I have had to call on help from those who are differently wired to me and more organised. Remember, there is no shame in asking for help in areas where you struggle.

🧹 TAKE A LOOK AROUND YOUR ROOM. Decide how you can simplify your life, decide what you really need and what you can let go of. Creating a picture in your mind or on paper of how you want it to look can be really helpful. If something doesn't bring you joy or serve a purpose, it might be time to say goodbye. 

🧹 PICK ONE AREA OF YOUR ROOM TO FOCUS ON FIRST. It could be your closet, your desk, or even just a corner that's become cluttered. Choose the one that will make the biggest difference when it is sorted. This week I am going to focus on my desk and bedside cabinet. Some decluttering experts suggest you pile everything that needs sorting onto your bed or the middle of the room, but if you are handling grief, this approach can be very overwhelming.

I used to decide that I was going to tackle the whole house in a day! I would not have a clear plan but pull everything out, get overwhelmed and exhausted and end up with a worse mess than before I started. I would often then stick things back in and feel I had made no progress but ended up exhausted! I have learned that doing a little and often is far more helpful.

After listening to Mel Robbins podcast interview with Dana White, I could see where I had been going wrong!

🧹 SORT THROUGH YOUR STUFF. She suggests that you can’t organise clutter, you have to first work towards reducing how much stuff you have. Think of the decluttering in layers. First, pull out anything that is obviously rubbish and put it in the bin. Then, look for things that you definitely want to keep and need to be put back in their home. Avoid making piles. Instead once you have enough to hold, go and put them away. If you feel overwhelmed, just pick up one item at a time and put it away. This way you will be guaranteed to have made progress instead of ending up with lots of piles that you will have to deal with later when you’re feeling exhausted. Use a timer to help you focus, if you need it.

🧹 CREATE A NEW HOME. Find a new home for the things you want to keep, but don’t currently have a place for. Ask yourself where you would look first if you needed it. Make decisions and put the items away as you go along. Put them away neatly so you can find them when you need them. Use a label maker, if you need.

🧹 GET RID OF THE THINGS YOU DON'T NEED ANYMORE. You can donate them to charity, give them to a friend, or just throw them away if they're no good to anyone. Sometimes we leave them outside with a label saying help yourself.

I struggle to let go of things because I am good at seeing possibilities and how it might be useful one day but I have a favourite charity shop I love donating things to. This makes it much easier knowing it is going for a good cause. Ultimately, I tell myself that if I really need it, I can always get another one. To avoid regrets you can put the items you are not sure about into quarantine. This means that you pack them away out of sight and if you really miss the item or need it, you can retrieve it. If you haven’t needed it or missed it after 3-6 months pass it on or sell it.


clearing out your headspace

Now let's talk about decluttering your mind. When you're struggling with grief emotions, your thoughts can get all jumbled up and overwhelming. But there are simple ways to clear out the clutter:

🍃 Take a few minutes each day to sit quietly and pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without judging them. This can help you feel calmer and more centred.  

🍃 Putting your thoughts and feelings down by writing in a journal can help you make sense of them and feel less overwhelmed. This can also help you identify the things that you can do something about.

🍃 When you catch yourself thinking things like "I'm not good enough" or "I'll never feel better," Check if these thoughts are really true. Check if there is an action you can take to move forward. Check if the thought needs to be replaced with a more helpful one. 

🍃Find inspiring quotes that open your mind up to new possibilities. What you feed yourself mentally matters.


dealing with your emotions

Finally, let's talk about sorting out your feelings. It's normal to feel sad, angry, or confused when something bad happens, but it's important to deal with those emotions in a healthy way. Remember that the thoughts we have, what we focus on and our self talk often create the emotions we feel. Here are some tips:

💟 Allow yourself to feel your emotions. It's okay to cry or not, yell, or even just sit with your feelings for a while.

💟 Talk to someone you trust. Sharing your feelings with a trusted colleague, friend, family member, or Grief Specialist can help you feel less alone and more supported.

💟 Do things that make you feel good, like taking a bath, going for a walk, or spending time with people you love. Remember, self-care is not selfish. Take responsibility for creating moments of joy, peace and calm even in the midst of handling your grief.

💟 Be patient with yourself. It’s important to acknowledge how you feel and it’s okay to not be okay. Remember you can’t change what happened but you can choose what you focus on, feed yourself on and how you respond.

When you're feeling overwhelmed by your grief emotions, adding the messiness of life just makes things worse. But by taking small steps to declutter your space, clear your mind, and sort out your feelings, you can start to move forward and get your life back without spending years in pain and therapy. Remember, you're not alone, and it's okay to ask for help when you need it. My DMs are always open.

With patience and kindness to yourself, you can find your way through the darkness and into the light so you can regain your peace, productivity, passion for life and purpose and create a life well lived.

🎧 Listen to the full podcast here:

👫 Join my FREE Facebook community here:

Grief Specialist

Ghulam Fernandes

Grief Specialist

Back to Blog

© 2024 Handling Grief