Friday, June 12, 2009

Room for Change:Help with Hangers, The Closet

One of the most difficult spaces in the home to address after the death of our loved one is the closet.

The clothes, being the closest physically to our loved plus the memories associated with certain clothes with certain times can create an overload on our senses and keep this spot a place most difficult to address.  I have found that this space often requires the help of family, including the children and outside assistance, whether it be professionals or volunteer organizations.

If you are "stuck" or lost on what to do some suggestions follow.  Again, as in all grief work, there is no timetable. Change will come, but often change can come sooner if there is physical room to grow. The closet is often one of the first big steps in this change. This is one place where removing an item may feel like we are dishonoring the memory of the person. It need not be true. Their memory will survive and flourish. 

Consider the following:

If you are not going to be using it , make it purposeful and donate it to someone who can use it or to an organization that will.  Consider this recycling for the planet and a gift to others.  Many churches or social organizations will gladly pick up clothes.  After the death of my husband a local missionary and his wife came and collected my late husband clothes and they were sent to Africa.  My daughters and I discussed a few items to keep and put them into a large clear storage bin that we would review later in time. When asked if family members wanted items some were afraid to say no. Remember their desire to have items owned by the deceased does not necessarily mean they do not care to carry on the memory. Some of us are more visual or tactile than others and some of us carry our memories without many objects near to us.

Several suggestions for using the clothing that may be in the closet or dresser drawers is to make a quilt out of different pieces of clothing to give to needy children or donate to an organization.  One person I knew opened up the old ties and sewed them together to create a table runner. My church has a quilting circle that will gladly accept materials and fabric to repurpose into a quilt or blanket for those in need. Another person took her mother's old costume jewelry from dresser drawer and glued the random pieces onto Styrofoam balls tethered with ribbon. These created Christmas ornaments for the family members.  Would you consider gluing such items onto a box or even glass vase to hold flowers and catch the dancing light? This may be the time to enlist the services of a friend that sews to create something for you. 

This is also a time when the services of a professional organizer or interior redesigner may be of benefit. Professional organizers can work with you side by side to evaluate what you have and what you need and what can be donated or sold.  It is a way to incorporate a more neutral decision maker into the path of change.  Many redesigners also do "clutter control" and have an eye for repurposing items and how to transform any existing space into either a more efficient,practical or beautiful setting for you without purchasing items. An example of this may be using a closet, that is not holding clothes now, to be used as a study or office area. Closet doors may be removed and the cubicle now created can house a desk or shelves to provide that niche to work, write or for computer use.  A mirror placed inside the "closet " can open up the room thereby bringing in more light and creating a more spacious feeling.  I used a small walk in closet and by placing a free floating desk top, made it into my office cubicle. When my "work day" is finished I simply close the door. It is painted a bright tropical turquoise, while everything else in the house remains a cool neutral. It provides me a fun working space unique to me.

Closets that are cleaned out can also house a dresser, thereby freeing floor space in the room. The newly discovered space could perhaps to accommodate a chair to create a reading nook, or another place to call your own.  Closets are a great place to experiment with fragrances you might enjoy within their confined space. Diffusers or air fresheners are economical. Find one that is pleasant to you. Using extra closet shelves to house a collection or even a few photos is also a possibility.  I always find a place to prop a childhood doll of mine.  The whimsy of spotting her from time to time helps to keep me lightened up!

Remember there are people and organizations willing to help you move forward when you are ready. Enlist whatever support you need. Others can benefit in what you can offer to donate or sell.

Resources for closet revamping include:

Salvation Army                                         
Association of Design Education                 
National Association of Professional Organizers
Interior Redesign Industry Specialist           

Listing your items on can help you sell items locally with no advertising cost. Most individuals will pick them up from you directly.

Lighten your space and enlighten your heart!

1 comment:

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