A Place For Everything

Our society is one obsessed with organization.  There are even stores that sell nothing but storage bins and totes of all different colors and sizes.  Good thing, so we can put our excess stuff on a shelf, in the closet, or under the bed, in style.  The world tells us that stacking everything neatly is much better than spreading our belongings out in the middle of the floor to sort them one-by-one.

I’m finding my emotions aren’t much different than the “things” I tuck away into their designated storage spaces.  The “bad” feelings are folded up and buried beneath the daily have-to-do’s.  The “good” emotions (the ones that lift me up and draw others to me) flow freely like the toys that are forever strung across my family room floor.

I never consciously chose to avoid feeling sadness, longing, anger or grief – all of the emotions that weigh down a smiling heart.  But like a storage tote stuffed too full, the lid popped off and pain spilled over the sides.

After my grandma passed away, I acknowledged my loss and allowed myself to cry for my own sadness, knowing full well they were selfish tears.  My mind knew I didn’t need to cry for her because she was free.

Within weeks, I returned to “life as usual,” whatever that means, because my life is one continuous crazy mess.  There was enough going on that I didn’t dwell on missing her, or my grandpa, who passed away several years ago.  I thought I had healed, but it turns out that healing is a process of relapse and recovery.

Going to my grandparents’ house was much more difficult than I thought.  Food needed to be cleared out of the house, and I knew being in that house made my mom sad, so I told her my husband and I could do it.  My husband took the lead and I held trash bags open.  Silly as it sounds, I felt like pitching the expired food was like tossing pieces of my grandparents’ lives away.

My mom surprised me by showing up and filling more bags to take to the landfill.  I distanced myself from the labels I peeled off her prescription bottles; I made myself focus on the “things”, not the owner.  It wasn’t until I reflected on it later that night, and days later, that tears fell and I recognized that my wound had opened up again.

Tempting as it is to slap a bandage over it, I’m not going to.  Eventually, joy will replace grief.  This metamorphosis is promised in the Old Testament of the Bible (Jeremiah 31:13) as well as in the New Testament when Jesus prepared the disciples for His death (John 16:20).  One of my favorite songs, Before the Morning, embodies this message.  It’s hard not to feel some joy after listening to it 🙂

I’ve thought of my mom often throughout the week.  Neither one of us cried in my grandparents’ house.  I wonder if her tears come at night too; if her wounds are healing, just as mine are.


29 thoughts on “A Place For Everything

  1. Damyanti July 10, 2011 / 4:23 AM

    Grieving is a long process. You have been able to look at it from the outside, and that is not an easy thing to do. Wishing you all good things.

    • jannatwrites July 11, 2011 / 4:00 PM

      Thanks for your nice comment, Damyanti. I have moments of clarity 🙂

  2. J. P. Cabit July 10, 2011 / 5:09 AM

    What a great post, Janna. Well done again. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Probably one of the worst things you can do for grief is to compartmentalize it and think about something else. We have to face our dragons head on.

    • jannatwrites July 11, 2011 / 4:10 PM

      I agree that compartmentalizing is not the healthiest thing to do, but for some reason, I do it anyway. Kind of like how I know that too much sugar is bad for me, but I won’t step away from the chocolate bar.

      Now that I’ve acknowledged my weaknesses, it’s time to “face those dragons”.

      Thanks for your kind comment, Seph.

    • J. P. Cabit July 12, 2011 / 1:55 AM

      I LOOOOOVE sugar!!!

      That is all.


  3. Debbie July 10, 2011 / 8:53 AM

    Janna, your beautiful words reminded me of my feelings, nearly three years after my dad’s death. I held up stoically for my mom’s sake, but you’re right — it’s not been easy. We had to compile all Daddy’s belongings and donate the clothing to charity; his personal effects like books are still in his office. The bigger part of me is confident he’s in a better place and no longer in pain (for which I’m grateful), but his absence leaves a gaping hole in the lives of his family left here. Grieving is like the tide — it ebbs and flows on its own schedule. Blessings to you and your family!

    • jannatwrites July 11, 2011 / 4:32 PM

      I’m glad you can relate to feeling, but I’m sorry you have to experience it. Does that make sense?

      Sometimes it’s hard to focus on the joy for them being in a better place when we’re hurting from their absence. There’s yet another thing that I can improve about myself. What a long list I have going here…

      Thanks for sharing your experience, which is much like mine. I hope you and your family are handling your grief. Blessings to you and your family also, Debbie 🙂

  4. Carl D'Agostino July 10, 2011 / 9:49 AM

    To the landfill? Good Lord, you gotta lot of stuff. Some say unless it is an object of personal value, valuable as $, or really needed in emergency, get rid of it if you have not used it in six months or some say a year. Moving several times I have probably cut inventory 75% and don’t miss a thing.

    • jannatwrites July 11, 2011 / 4:35 PM

      Moving is an excellent way to trim down the excess. (Having children is not a good way…trust me :)) There is a misconception (genius marketing?) that more is better. Less stuff is more liberating.

      There is so much more to go through. Much of it can probably be donated, if everyone can keep sentiment and emotions in check.

      Thanks for your wise comment, Carl!

  5. nrhatch July 10, 2011 / 10:05 AM

    Sorrow is the price we pay for Joy.

    • jannatwrites July 11, 2011 / 4:36 PM

      Such truth in so few words, Nancy. We’d be so empty if we didn’t allow ourselves to love others. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    • nrhatch July 11, 2011 / 7:42 PM

      I think it’s from the movie Shadowlands, starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. She’s dying and he’s having a hard time dealing with her demise.

      • jannatwrites July 11, 2011 / 7:58 PM

        Oh…wisdom usually doesn’t come from movies (not the ones I’ve watched, anyway ;)) You could’ve passed this off as your own observation and I wouldn’t have known any better!

        I like your honesty 🙂

      • nrhatch July 11, 2011 / 8:10 PM

        I pick up bits and pieces of wisdom from the unlikeliest places . . . and sometimes I even remember which bit came from which source. 😀

        I don’t think it’s an exact quote . . . but it’s the gist of what she tells him as she’s saying good-bye.

        • jannatwrites July 11, 2011 / 11:08 PM

          You do okay, Nancy 🙂

  6. pattisj July 10, 2011 / 1:40 PM

    Grief has its way, whether we like it or not. As mentioned above, it does tend to ebb and flow, and its visitations come fewer and further between as time goes by. Hugs!

    • jannatwrites July 11, 2011 / 7:36 PM

      Yes, no matter what we do, grief happens. I’m looking forward to a long span of time before grief washes over me again 🙂 Thanks for your comment, Patti!

  7. judithhb July 10, 2011 / 2:08 PM

    Thank you for sharing. Now some 13 years after my husband’s death I am still often overcome with sadness and grief.
    There is no set time for grieving. Just let it come and then move on. Time does not heal but it does make the day to day living just a little bit easier.

    • jannatwrites July 11, 2011 / 7:44 PM

      If time did heal, we’d all be fixed up nicely by the time we reached our “Golden Years” wouldn’t we?

      I’m sorry you’ve had to live with the grief of losing your husband. Although I can’t say I know how it feels, I’ve seen how it hurts. My grandpa passed away several years before my grandma and she missed him every day. It’s like he took half of her with him when he died.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your grief, Judithhb.

  8. dorcas July 10, 2011 / 5:30 PM

    Love the way your mind deals with issues Janna. Hope you heal faster…

    • jannatwrites July 11, 2011 / 7:45 PM

      Thanks for your sweet comment, Dorcas. I’ll take the healing however it will come 😉

  9. Tori Nelson July 10, 2011 / 5:44 PM

    I’m convinced there is no right way to heal or grieve or feel things. Each person cries when she needs to. Wishing you and your family lots of comfort!

    • jannatwrites July 11, 2011 / 7:47 PM

      Thanks, Tori. My problem (well, one of them, at least) is that I hold things in without realizing it and end up crying at inopportune times…like a job interview, for instance. Oh, yes…that’s another humiliating life moment that I’ve not yet posted about. Someday…

      I appreciate your well-wishes.

  10. 2blu2btru July 11, 2011 / 8:11 AM

    I’m back here again, ironically because of this camp NaNoWriMo story I’m working on. It’s over two years later, and I still haven’t dealt with my stepfather’s death. I just compartmentalized it and buried it. Now, trying to describe what grief feels like for one of my characters, I have to take it out and unpack it all. I’m still waiting on the joy part of things. 😦

    Grieving is hard to do. No one wants to dwell in sadness. But it’s so necessary to truly move on and get back to being happy. Hopefully now that you’re allowing yourself to grieve, your joy will be swift in coming. Blessings to you and yours! *Hugs*

    • jannatwrites July 11, 2011 / 7:56 PM

      You are a kindred spirit, 2blu. I hope that in writing your NaNoWriMo story, you will be able to properly grieve. I think it’s courageous of you to tackle such a project with your past experiences. If it begins the healing process and results in a story you love, it will be so worth it 🙂

      I agree with your observation that no one wants to dwell in sadness. To me, sadness is like house guests that arrive without any clue as to when they intend to leave. I’m afraid to allow sadness in because I’m afraid it will get too comfortable, or I won’t have the will to make it leave.

      I hope you post about your story status and/or your grieving process. I’m curious to see how it works out for you. Blessings to you also, 2blu 🙂

  11. Jackie Paulson Author July 12, 2011 / 8:29 PM

    This year I am finally having a garage sale and letting it all go. I am so done.

    • jannatwrites July 12, 2011 / 8:56 PM

      You’ll feel so much lighter, I’m sure 🙂

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