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I'm having a hard time getting rid of my spouses clothes and other personal items? Any suggestions?

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Therapist Answer and Transcription

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Hi, I’m Dr. Kevin Skinner. I want to thank you for being here on brighter mornings and asking your question. Your question is I’m having a hard time getting rid of my spouse’s clothes and other personal items. Do you have any suggestions for me?

First of all, the fact that you’re asking about it tells me that you’re thinking about getting rid of those items.

Now, a lot of people, they don’t do that, or they wait for a long time because they feel guilt and sometimes they’re just frozen. Either way, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact in my experience has been that it takes time. So if you’re considering it, let me give you maybe some strategies of things that you could do as you prepare to remove some of those items from your home or from the bedroom.

First of all, is you might not do it alone. And you might think some of the items you might do alone. But you might do it with other family members. And the reason why this matters is because you’re creating a memory around those. I remember when this, or I remember when that, and you’re sharing those experiences with, other loved ones, which actually creates a new experience and it’s a way to transition.

And you got somebody there to comfort you. A few years ago, somebody did a research and they had individuals putting their hands in cold, ice buckets of water. Those who are going through that difficult time, who had somebody close to them or somebody that they trusted next to them, holding their hand, we’re able to keep their hand in the water longer. Now, analogy wise, having people around you as you take these items, remove them from the bedroom or from your home, the garage, wherever it may be. One way to do that is with people around you. So you don’t have to do it alone. Now, you may say some of the items you want to do by yourself, but as you do that, I would actually have you having a conversation as if your spouse was still there with you. I’m removing this, it reminds me of you. I still love you. I still care about you.

It doesn’t have to be an experience where you feel guilt or like you’re doing something wrong. In sometimes we hold on to things because we don’t want those memories to leave. If you’re not ready for it, don’t push yourself. Don’t push yourself thinking, you’ve got to move on. Maybe right now, you’re not ready. But the fact that you’re asking the question tells me that you’re thinking about it. So when the time is right, make sure you have people around you much like the cold bucket of ice water and make sure that if you’re doing it by yourself, you can talk with your spouse, even though they’re gone, you can have this conversation and there’s no reason why you can’t share with them what you’re doing and why.

In that process, you’re going to be sharing real and authentic emotions and those are very important.

Anyway, thank you for your question. It’s a really good question. May be comforted as you go through this process. Thanks a lot for asking. This has been Dr. Kevin Skinner.

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