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Grief and the “distance” of decluttering.


I’ve had a super emotionally heavy day.

To make space for my semester-long stay here, I started clearing out some of my sister’s things.

I can’t really place a finger on how I hierarchized these material objects, but I started with the most “distant” thing.

I tore up all her medical documents and discarded her old medication. I associate none of these things with the memory of my sister.

Then I threw out her old shoes but kept the pretty ones and the ones with sentimental value, like her first pair of highcut converse.

I accumulated enough strength from hanging around the “distant” shoe rack by the doorway and moved into her bedroom.

There were too many categories of objects with intensive affective value: Books, hand drawn art, boxes of photographs, clothes…

So I started with the category most distant to me: Makeup.

I grouped her lipsticks and blushers and foundation and eye things into separate piles on the floor.

I stared at them for a long while, agonizing over what to do.

I have no use for makeup, but wanted to keep all these things because they belonged to my sister.

They were beginning to dry and crack, but I couldn’t bear to discard the objects that have been in intimate contact with my sister’s face.

I ended up discarding her contact lenses and solution – I have never used these myself and feel they are the most distant to me.

I packed everything else into a canvas bag and put it back nicely among her things.

I left her three hair brushes on the dresser: I couldn’t bear to move them from their place because there were still old stands of her hair entangled.

By then my heart felt so heavy and my eyes so full that I decided it was enough for one day/day one.

Perhaps in the morning, when I go to shower, I will finally discard her toothbrush.

I will use tonight’s sleep to muster strength for that.

It has been such a heavy day. I feel too depressed to finish all my overdue work. But I keep reminding myself that I am a resilient person.

I am a resilient person.


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