The last time I spring cleaned my house was the early part of 2015 it was around May before I was due to have a big operation in June. I remember getting as much as I could organised before I went in to hospital so that when I came home there would be very little for Brooke and Josh to do while I convalesced. They both had very pressurised jobs, and I didn’t want them having the extra burden of having to do housework as well as look after me. Since losing Josh anything other than basic housework has been a challenge for me, something about moving, changing or getting rid of something has filled me with dread. I had wanted everything to stay as it was when Josh was here with me as if time had stood still.
It was so hard that a couple of years back I had to replace the kitchen tap, shower head and a kettle and iron all around the same time, and to do that it actually brought me to tears while also leaving me with a massive amount of guilt. The reason for this was because Josh had touched and used all of these things and each item had a memory attached to them. Josh loved a shower, we joked because he was would be in it for ages just like the bath. He was independent and would iron his own clothes make me tea and wash up, so they were a part of him, and I could still see him doing those things whenever I used them. So when I use the replacements, I know Josh has never touched them, and I find myself thinking of the older broken ones and upset that they had to be replaced. I know it sounds odd, but that is how hard grief hits me, and I know I am not the only one to feel this way.
This Christmas and New Year for the first time in the past five years, I took time off from running the charity. Everyone, from friends and family along with work associates and contacts, said they hoped I would be taking time off and just how important it was for me to unwind and recharge my batteries. Anyone who knows me knows this would be no mean feat as I like to keep myself busy all day everday of the week. Surprisingly I found myself warming to the idea despite the long to-do list that would be easier to work through without the constant flow of emails and online meetings.
However, as Christmas got closer and closer, I could feel the pain of facing another one without Josh. All too familiar emotions started to rise within me, the sadness, and emptiness taking hold along with the upcoming new year, another year that I would bring in without Josh.
Now, the thought of relaxing and taking time out seemed like a bad idea, but I knew I had to and, that Josh more than anyone would want this for me. So I decided to get the house ready for a Christmas tree, I hadn’t put one up for years, but before I did this I wanted to get the house in order, so I started to declutter. I began to tackle one room at a time with one draw sometimes taking hours; it was after all five years since I had last done anything like it on this grand scale. Finally, days later, I stood in Josh’s bedroom, fighting with myself, knowing what I was ready to do but dreading it. As I lay down on his bed and held his pillow, I tried to find his scent; it was so faint that after pushing my face in deeper and deeper, it faded away. I found myself saying ‘Josh I am going to change your sheets now and put fresh bedding on, I am not moving on though I am just moving forward’. Doing this was a massive step for me as his bedding was the same bedding he last slept in and the same bedding I slept in long after his death so that I could be as close to him as possible.
So there I was spring cleaning in winter and taking this massive step forward in my grieving process, and changing Josh’s bedding. Peeling back the quilt cover was like peeling back a layer of emotions the same when I removed his pillowcases, the feeling even as I write this blog rises inside me. While it is painful, sad and challenging, as I am still grieving the action, it is also a feeling of hope, of new beginnings and a new found strength, but most of all, it is a feeling of love, a love so strong that words can never describe it. Now when I sit in his room, sit on his bed and smell fresh bedding I know the time was right for me to take this next step as I smile knowing he would be so proud of me. And probably be saying ‘well done Mum I am so proud of you’. I know this because Brooke tells me this most days and they are like two peas in a pod when it comes to me.
Everyone’s grief is individual to them, we all move forward in different ways, and we should only do what feels right to us at any one time as no two people can ever experience the same pain of losing a loved one. After I changed Josh’s bedsheets, I started to work through the rest of the house moving from one room to another and whenever I found something that made me smile instead of cry belonging to or connected to Josh I added it to my memory box, a place I can visit with fond memories, a box that had been empty before then. Although Josh’s clothes and belongings are still in the same place I know when I feel stronger I will sort threw them too, but for now, I open the wardrobe and smell his clothes because there is still a faint smell of him and close it again.
For anyone in any doubt about how they should grieve, what is right or why they are not doing what the book says in the time it suggests, don’t be. Do what is right for you, don’t compare or seek approval, your grief is unique to you, and when the time is right, you will know it is the right time for you 💙🙏🏻
#5years3monthstoday #springcleaninginwinter #amotherslove #grief #movingforward