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How can I put away the evidence of our life together? How can I erase Alan’s life from my home? Of course, I can’t, but I almost feel like that’s what I’m trying to do when I went through some of his things yesterday.  I couldn’t get rid of anything, so I put it in the attic. The process isn’t even close to finished, but I know it is something I have to do.  I definitely have mixed feelings about it.

It is comforting, in a way, to see evidence that Alan existed, with me, in this home. But it is also supremely painful.  I cried over a credit card statement, of all things, that showed all the little transactions that constructed a history of part of his life. I saw the charge at Dairy Queen at Jekyll Island on our vacation this summer, all of the gas stations he went to, his Thursday lunches at McDonalds and his weekend thrift store shopping with Ashley. I saw the charges in Cherokee and then all the transactions suddenly stop, on 9/16.

I also saw birthday cards he gave me and anniversary cards I gave him. I saw the toothbrush he used on our trip to Cherokee and all the stuff that I have been keeping in place since that terrible day when I came back alone from that trip. I still left his razor on our bathroom sink and his toothbrush in the toothbrush holder. I don’t know why.

I wish I could say I was happy about this process or that I feel like it is a way to move forward. Instead, I feel almost like I am turning my back on our life together.  I needed to do this, so the mixed feelings are not welcome.  Somehow I’ll just have to manage to get through this.

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Comment by lowrsr (Sherry) on November 10, 2016 at 10:05am

Thank you for your comments! I did it in part because it just needed to be done - I came home without him from our camping trip and unpacked his suitcase by putting piling his clothes up on the floor. It just didn't make sense to put them back in the closet. But they were in my way. He was also something of a clutterbug so important papers are just piled in with random receipts. I still haven't found some papers that I need. So I felt a need to organize and put away some triggering objects (but not get rid of them). I am also planning to have a quilt made from some of his shirts and I needed to choose which ones. In some ways it was a good thing to do but it was also very hard. Nothing is gone, just out of sight. I think it was the right thing to do, but I just had to express how hard it was to do it. In any case, the job is only partially done, and I'm not sure when I will continue it. I'm not in any rush now that the hardest part is done.

Comment by Nieta on November 10, 2016 at 7:17am

Dear Sherry,

Eliminating or removing some or all of the things from your home does not necessarily mean that you are erasing him.  When the time and circumstances felt right to me, I either gave things away to charitable institutions, thrift shops or friends.  Some things were harder than others to part with and some still are.  As others have here have mentioned, there is no time-table.  You simply do it if and when you are ready.  For example, I gave one of my husband's judo uniforms to his sensei (teacher), as he trained with him since he had been a boy.  On another occasion, I gave some judo books, videos and literature to a childhood friend of his.  Some of his ties went to his colleagues/friends.  Shoes, suits and clothing went to charitable institutions for others in need to use. The "evidence" can be a double-edged sword - at least it is for me - because it can be heart-warming after some time and wrenching early on.  Of course, that can also depend on the item and the emotional trigger that it awakens.

I still have my husband's razor in the medicine cabinet, as it is an old one in which you simply switch out the blades.  I think it used to belong to his father.  I kept a couple of his polo shirts for myself to use when doing yard work or painting, as well as his pajama bottoms, which I wore for a while when he first passed away.  They are flannel so I save them for when the temps dip, as they still bring me comfort.  I also kept a couple of his blazers in his closet along with my things.  They aren't hurting anyone and I like to see them in there. 

My Patrick used to put our photo albums together and included things like old Valentine's day cards, etc.  Lots of beautiful memories for me to look back on and I love that he did that.  Those memories are of our life together and I earned the right to keep them.  I continue to move forward - sometimes with more trepidation than others - but it's a journey that can only be traveled by me, which means there are no rules and there is no map. 

You are not turning your back on your life together even though it may feel that way at times.  Just breathe and take one step at a time.  And, most importantly, don't worry if any of those steps seem to go backwards or sideways or in circles.  This journey is anything but a straight line. 

Huge virtual hug from a fellow widow whom is still very much in love with her husband.

Comment by Doug02122014 on November 9, 2016 at 5:28pm
Sherry,

I don't know if reading through this will help you out but I was in your place just a couple years ago.

What to do with spouses personal effects and when?
Posted by Doug02122014 on March 3, 2014 at 1:28pm in Open area

http://widowedvillage.org/forum/topics/what-to-do-with-spouses-pers...

I think we can be crippled by all the reminders in our houses. I say keep doing what you are doing by boxing things up and storing them until you are at a better place to triage everything. Now is just too early. But like me you will likely benifit by redecorating your home in a way that it hasn't been. New beginning. Some reminders keep out of course but you and only you will know which ones are not triggers to you.

I'm available to correspond with if you want; friend me and I'd be happy to help any way I can you or any other Widville Member.

Take care.

Doug
Comment by Callie2 on November 8, 2016 at 5:03pm
Sherry,
It's OK to do this when you're feeling less emotional, there is no timetable. It took me almost three years to get through everything. I doubt that this will make you feel better or worse, grief takes as long as it takes. Be gentle with yourself.
Comment by SweetMelissa2007 on November 7, 2016 at 4:20am

SHERRY)))

Is there a particular reason you're doing this early out? Did someone say something to you about getting it done now? I ask this since you are raw & it could cause problems w/decision making as well as regrets.

I found there were times of surrealism when I needed to hold or see particular items to dispell it to make it real again. Keeping Bob's items in their place also helped desensitize triggers.

Do this only if you are completely certain it is best for you at this point in time ...

Comment by Liss on November 6, 2016 at 1:56pm
Hello Lowrsr (Sherry),
I understand the pain and ambiguity you are feeling about putting away your husband's things. Only do this if the time feels right to you, and not a moment sooner regardless of what anyone else thinks. I have given away or thrown away some of my George's things (he died August 10th), but his T-shirts are hanging about face height to me in our closet, and I bury my face in them once a day usually as I am getting dressed. Maybe I won't want to do this two months from now, or maybe I will, and if it gives me some comfort, then as the old blue's song says, "Ain't no body's business if I do..." The heart has its own schedule.

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