Tis the season… for broken ornaments. I was hiding the famous “pickle” ornament deep inside the branches early this morning before the kids woke up. In my haste to get the task done, another ornament fell crashing to the ground and into a million pieces. Sometimes letting go isn’t by choice… it just happens.
As I started picking up the little shards of glass, my heart dropped as I realized that is was a special ornament that had broken. One that someone had made for my husband and I as a wedding gift. It had a beautiful hand-painted bird and our wedding date inscribed on it. I was sad for our loss and felt helpless at the same time. There was no way I could every replace that ornament. It was gone forever.
This small moment made me recognize the importance of those times when we must declutter an item not by choice but by circumstance. It is a time of sadness. A time of loss. And even a time of grief. But it can also be a time of gratitude. A time of growth. And a time of new beginnings.
Sometimes Life Just…. Happens
My ornament is just one small example of how life, well, just happens. Unfortunately, there are more devastating circumstances that can completely shake the ground we stand on. People that bravely endured Hurricane Katrina. Those that lost everything in the Joplin tornadoes. The impoverished people in Haiti that saw their lives torn apart. When we are forced to “declutter” literally everything we own, how can we possibly move on?
It’s OK to Grieve
First, we must acknowledge that it’s ok, even helpful, to grieve our losses… both large and small. From my small ornament to an entire home, we can be sad for our loss. We need to express those feelings and acknowledge them in order to move on. These huge life shifts can shake the sense of safety and comfortableness many of us have always enjoyed. We must lean on others, cry on their shoulders and be humble enough to accept their support.
Picking up the Pieces
One of the greatest gifts we are all given is the gift of fortitude. The ability to keep forging ahead no matter the circumstance. As my ornament sat on the floor in a million pieces, I dutifully grabbed a towel and broom to sweep up the pieces. Picking up the pieces also means physically letting go of those items that we can no longer keep. Those broken or damaged beyond repair. Although difficult, it is a necessary in the process. We must discover an action plan that gives us hope for a brighter future ahead.
Choose Joy in the Chaos
Two years ago, my parents basement flooded… like really flooded. It was a lot of work as we moved item after item out of the basement and into the dumpster. But we also enjoyed uncovering long-buried family memories hidden within storage boxes. Silly snapshots of holidays past, old newspapers from my great uncle, and even a suitcase that hasn’t been opened since the 1920’s. The wonder we enjoyed as we slowly lifted the lid was one that I will always cherish. My family choose to embrace the opportunity for joy that the chaos brought. A chance to band together as one unit to accomplish a large task. To reminiscence together on times gone by. And listen to my parents share the stories behind the heirlooms that were found. Although water damage forced us to let much of it go, the time spent together can never be taken away.
Have Faith that Better Days are Ahead
When in the midst of loss, we often focus only on what we will no longer own. What we forget is that this world is a place of PLENTY. Sometimes letting go allows us to grasp for something even better. Maybe that car breaking down will allow you to find another one that better meets your needs? Maybe that job loss will lead to a better opportunity? Maybe that broken ornament will allow me to keep a fonder memory of it for years to come? We always must keep faith and hope that better days are ahead. Every circumstance has a silver lining.
Right now as I write this post I am still sad about the ornament… almost to tears. Letting go doesn’t mean putting on a happy face and moving on right away. It simply means knowing that there is beauty in the struggle. There is power in accepting that what’s done is done. And it doesn’t mean losing hope or giving up. Rather it means embracing the opportunity to grow and embrace what is.