Yesterday's client had a room in his home that was stacked and stuffed with boxes from his mom who had passed away five years ago. He hated being in this room. He thought about doing something with his inheritance every day, but couldn't take action. This stuff was emotionally loaded and shut him down. If the trash can in his kitchen got knocked over, and the contents spilled onto the floor, he could immediately clean everything up. But the emotional hold of clutter goes beyond the intellect and frustrates us.
I asked my client what he wanted to do with the room. He said he wanted it to be a guest bedroom. I quietly, simply and easily suggested we do that by going through the contents of the first box within reach. The grip of clutter is loud and chaotic. I find it helps to approach the situation with a gentle matter-of-factness. It allows the clutter bustee to slip through clutter's bars.
With a trash bag at my side, I picked up a handful of papers from a box and set them on the empty space of a dresser. My client picked up the first paper which was a letter to his mom from one of her friends. He read it. He started to get lost in it. I asked him what it was. He sighed. He looked around at the boxes in the room and said, "It's almost a curse I inherited this stuff."
I said I've worked with a lot of clients who have similarly inherited lots of stuff from their parents and have felt equally cursed. It's hard for the person receiving these things because they're overwhelmed by the sorrow of their parent's death and don't have the capacity to deal with the stuff. Because they're so fragile, they feel if they let these things go, they're letting their parents go. An intuitive part of them knows this isn't true and that they don't care for most of the stuff. But it's hard to access. Living under the great weight of this stuff is painful. It helps to accept this is what's happening to you and start the process of letting go.
We worked for about three hours and filled four big trash bags. A third of the room was now free. This made him happy. I'm going back next week to finish up the room.
I encourage everyone to consider clutter busting as a gift to the people you love. We don't know how long we'll be around. But when we do go, it's a compassionate act to prevent our loved ones from living under the avalanche of our stuff.