The new year dawns.  Fresh starts.  Newly formed commitments.  Anticipation and hope of greater, grander or simply a gentler existence.

In and through grief, the past wafts by us unexpectedly with its pleasures and its challenges.  The new year brings for us a time to reassess which things to carry along with us , which outlooks in our mind and which outlooks in our surroundings.

Working with therapists and life coaches, the emphasis lies in changing the inside thoughts to bring changes to the outer side of life.  I have also found that sometimes the reverse can spur me onward, that is, tweaking my environment can help me tweak my mind set and then my goals, hopes, focus and energy.

Think about a sunny warm day with a gentle breeze vs. pelting rain and a stormy wind on your face.  Simple change, yet  it may create huge change in your mind set and experiences.

Loss of a loved one may be complicated byloss of relationships, loss or change in your health or economics, loss of dreams and  loss of hopes.   How can this daunting change be beneficial?  What can you do within your space to assist you through change?  Why even try to change?

Benefits of Change

Decrease fear of the unknown

Develop skills and talents that lie dormant

Create unexpected opportunities

Healthy for body, mind and spirit

Along with change comes attachment.  Attachment is not good or bad.  It is something that is.  How you use the attachment to ideas or things can become the catapult into a more peaceful and growth fulfilling place or a tormented and retracted existence.

I have done both with trepidation, changing something I felt was dramatic and holding onto something that brought me no joy any longer.  I am now finding that things are not memories, stuff is not filled with love, and change can be done in small ways that can support me where I am now.

What does this mean for you and others within loss and grief? Small changes can create great changes in perspective and it can start within your home.

Basic Bones for Your New Palette

Function – Do the items in your room service you in comfort, mobility and visual pleasure?  Or do you grumble every time you sit in that chair or not even use the room  because it is non functional for your lifestyle these days?

Safety- This may include distance between items and placement, visual ease to find and remember ( refine number of items ), obstacles such as electric cords or sufficient lighting for tasks.

The elements that are layered upon the Bones of your new palette and great space include: Lighting, color, aromas, sounds, meditative motion.

Enough about design technique and more about you.  What does this mean for you?

Ask yourself a few of the following questions.

Where do I gravitate to these days?  Are there any rooms I am not using?  How do I feel when I enter the house? Is my home a haven for me and a place to refuel?  What is the focus within my space (overladen counters or a fresh vase of white flowers)?

With loss and adaptation to the change associated with it, it is important to have a spot for yourself with the items for you. It might be a corner with a reading chair, blanket and phone close by.  It might be the kitchen table , now being used for scrap booking instead of eating.

This might be a time when you change bedrooms and try out the guest room or buy new sheets for your old bed.   What is the worst thing that can happen?  You can change  back again.  An unused closet can be turned into a desk area for your computer by adding a writing surface and grabbing a chair from another room that fits you perfectly.

What color speaks to you these days?  One of the least expensive ways to freshen a space is paint or you could purchase  yourself a new pair of red sneakers! Look to color to enliven your space and you.

Remember the smell of your grandma’s cologne?  Remember the smell of Christmas morning?  Those were all created once upon a time, in an instant.

Now is the time to look to see what you can create and decide what ones to continually incorporate in your daily life. My late husband only used white Dial soap, so we had white Dial soap.  After his death, I was still buying white Dial soap.  I did not even think about what fragrance or texture I might to linger and in the shower.  I went for Zest, and now I go for whatever is cheapest!

As with color, sounds can be irritable, neutral or soothing.  In grief, how you perceive sounds may have changed.  What music do you like to listen to now?  What daily sounds irritate you?   Do you love the quiet or are you finding white noise of comfort?

Assess what resonates with you, and place a bit of it in your home, your car or work. I found that music without lyrics was soothing for me and that I also gravitated to drumming rhythms.  This too can change.  Nothing is static in supporting you and your environment.

Meditative motion is a phrase I coined.  For me, they are the  “things” that move onward without my volition: the birds in flight around my bird feeder the tick of the clock., the silk butterflies that are hung over my living room air duct and dance when the heat or air conditioning comes on.

There is room for change within your home, with what you already own.  There is room for change within you, with what you already are.  Take small steps in change to support yourself.  Treat yourself as a guest in your own home. You are worth it and you deserve it.

What would you do for a guest today? Do it for yourself instead.  All the details will fall in place.

Susan Reynolds 2011

Susan Reynolds

Susan W. Reynolds developed her innovative system by combining interior redesign principles with grief recovery methods. Susan is a member of the Association of Design Education and a Certified Physical Therapist. Her training in wellness and ergonomics has given her sensitive insights into the needs of people in grief. She is a consultant to hospices on how interior design can help clients feel comfortable and safe. She speaks at bereavement groups to teach her methods to people who have suffered loss. She helps those in grief visualize how small changes in their surroundings can result in big changes in attitude. After her husband died of cancer after a difficult two-year battle, Susan participated in traditional grief groups. She found that a practical approach worked best for her. She uses her blog, "Room for Change", to present her ideas about the role of ergonomics in grief recovery. The book version of her system reflects input from bereavement coordinators and other specialists in the field of death and dying. Her company, Revival Redesign helps people refresh and enliven their personal space using items they already own and love.

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