As widows, we often talk about “new Normal”. Right now, it seems that the world is looking at this term as well. Many discussions are occurring about what life will be like after this quarantine. It seems like everyone is looking for the “New Normal” of the world. Without the factories running and the constant commuting, we are seeing cleaner air. Families are spending more time together and learning about each other once again. A lot of people are taking this unexpected time to deep clean or clear clutter from their homes.
As spring is coming and the whole world seems to be on a spring cleaning spree, we thought we would revisit the process of cleaning and clearing out the clutter from the widow perspective.
When you first lose your spouse, you might just let the cleaning go. Those who care about the cleanliness of your home may just jump in and help you take care of things. If you are handling this issue on top of the quarantine, just do what you can and feel up to doing. Everything will be there when you are ready to handle it or when help can once again come in to visit.
Breathing and taking care of yourself is your first priority. Once you have accomplished that great feat, you may start a new daily routine and start to notice that the house may have been slightly (or not so slightly) neglected in the grief process. That is normal. Let those dust bunnies grow. It’s OK. Just focus on taking care of you.
If it feels way TOO big, ask someone to help. If you aren’t alone during this time of quarantine, ask others in your household to help out. If you’re alone, don’t fret. Do what you can.
Don’t worry about clearing out closets, dressers or other items that were left behind unless that is what you feel like doing. These items have been there a long time and they will be there when you are ready and able to sort through them. As we always say, this is YOUR Journey and it needs to go at your pace. Just because the world has stopped and everyone is trying to get things done at home--it does not mean you have to step up your game and clear through everything in your home. In addition to the entire world stopping, YOUR personal world has stopped and you need to take the time to get used to your “New Normal” while the world gets used to theirs.
We are not saying that you shouldn’t be washing your hands or that you shouldn’t make sure you have clean clothes, dishes etc. You need to make sure you are keeping things healthy for you...that is part of self care. However, leaving a cup on the counter for a bit will not hurt….nor will an unmade bed destroy your life or health. Take care of your basic needs and handle whatever you feel up to tackling as we move through these times and as you are handling your grief.
Here are some things to consider when you feel up to it (Cleaning Tips):
- Decide what is clean enough for you in these times.
- Decide what you would like things to look like after the quarantine. What is clean enough then.
- Do you want help from friends or family?
- I enlisted my boys to help and made a chore list ~Teresa
- I have allowed others to help when needed ~Jeni
- How much help do you want from friends and family? Try to decide where you don’t want them involved. This will help you to create healthy boundaries for yourself.
- Pick a task per day or do it on a day when it feels right?
- I chose one Saturday per month and enlisted the boys help. It was the start of our new normal. - Teresa
- I have played with different methods. Choosing a day, paying a kid, doing little things here and there. ~Jeni
- Celebrate you took some action and did something. Even just a high five to yourself.
Some Tips for Keeping It Clean
- If you can’t tackle the huge projects, tackle the little ones
- Wipe out the tub when taking a shower
- Wipe off bathroom sinks when you brush your teeth
- Dust the dresser when you get dressed
- Start a load of laundry before work
- Swap it when you get home
- Hang it up from the dryer - no ironing!
- The little 5 minute projects make you feel accomplished
- Use door mats to collect the mud, leaves, etc. from outside
- Window cleaner is a quick cleaner trick to spiff up the kitchen and bath
- Get all the machines (dishwasher, laundry) running while doing other things, that way you are accomplishing multiple items at the same time. You can use the time the machines are working to either clean or watch something on the TV … .your choice.
- Keep cleaners handy in the messiest locations, kitchen, bath, etc.
- Have wipes available in high dirt areas as well
Make a list of people to ask for help from after quarantine. Often there are those just waiting to help you. They want you to ask and know it’s OK to help. You need to give them permission so that they know they are not overstepping. Also, do not be afraid to let them know your boundaries if there are areas you want left untouched for now.
Above all, realize that you need to be comfortable in your space. How do you want it to look and feel? There is no pressure and no one is grading you on your house or how clean you keep it. The nicer it is for you, the better you will feel. So, do what you can and feel up to doing. Celebrate when you do accomplish something. Get someone else to do the rest for you -- allow yourself to be taken care of when needed.
For those supporting the grieving - you can be a huge help
- Reach out during this time of quarantine and let them know you are thinking of them
- Let them know if you would be willing to help after the world gets back in gear
- Please ask first what the bereaved would like or tolerate
- Offer to help clean - pick a specific area or task you’ll do
- Arrange a cleaning party with friends
- Hire someone to clean for your bereaved
- Respect the areas that they do not want touched
One of my cherished moments was when two friends came over - complete with new cleaning supplies and said, “Hey, we’re here to help clean, where shall we start? Do you want to help or just direct?” I had options. They also brought over treats and we had a time visiting and then all cleaned together. I still have my beloved Swiffer. ~Teresa
One of the “gifts” I received after Bob’s passing was a cleaning service that came in and helped. I remember feeling relieved of the task. ~Jeni
So, as the world defines its “New Normal” and as you define yours, take your time to breathe and practice self care. Tackle the projects that you feel comfortable handling and make some lists of things you might want to handle later and people who you might be able to reach out to for assistance.
Here’s to not dreading spring cleaning too much. May you find the peace and ease of living comfortably with your new reality.
We'd love for you to share your cleaning stories or tips? Please share your thoughts with us.
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Peace & Blessings,
Jeni & Teresa