Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Converting the Home

Journal entry 32

Today I gave away more of Evelyn’s possessions.

I filled the backseat of the car with her professional outfits and drove them to a place that helps low-income women acquire the business clothes they need to interview for decent jobs. I took her teaching resources to a teaching friend, and her music to someone who sings.

Disposing of possessions can be done quickly. Just drag everything out the door and stuff the garbage cans. The only cost is the loss of memories, because each item has the power to evoke an important story back from the Land of Nodding. “Oh yes,” I say, nodding my head, “now I remember!” I’ve been careful with Ev’s possessions because of this.

In Beverly Gordon’s book, The First Year Alone, she says that she got rid of all her husband’s clothes in a week because emotionally it was hard to have them around. It is hard, and the benefit of tossing everything is that survivors are no longer tortured by seeing objects all the time that remind them of their sorrow.

But then they have to deal with the sudden emptiness of the house. 

The rest of Evelyn’s things I pack into boxes and will decide later what to do with them. As I pack, the rooms in the house begin to covert to being my room, my closet, my home. It’s tempting to keep everything the same because I liked my life the way it was, but a refrigerator magnet that says “Evelyn’s Kitchen” feels out of place, and it reminds me that this is no longer true. I add it to my box of keepsakes.

I will not rope off her places. There won’t be any shrines like “Ev’s teaching desk.” “Evelyn’s chair, we don’t sit there.” or “Ev the laundry person’s washer.” I will sit in her chair if I want to look out the window when I eat dinner. I will hang my robe on the bathroom door where her robe used to be. I will move my computer to her desk because her room has better lighting.

I want to preserve her memories, not create a museum that accumulates dust.


  1. I did the same thing. I put a lot of thought into it and asked myself, "Who would he want to have this," or "Who would benefit the most from this." It helps comfort me that I did my best.

  2. It's like spreading our loved ones throughout the world, where others can see these objects and remember who they were.