Walls are dividers.  Walls are providers.  Walls are low. Walls are high.  Walls are protectors. Walls are prisons. Walls with cracks fall down and can be rebuilt or replaced with something else.

Moving through many changes after loss (the major one being the death of my spouse), I have moved my literal walls. In fact, I have moved three times within the last 6 years.  I have constructed walls from blue prints; I have adorned and painted them.  I have purchased a new home only to sell it 2 years later and rent after 30 years of owning my own home. The walls of my rental home remain the color they were on move-in day.  I am not investing time and money and effort this time around to make them “mine” in the same way I have in the past.

My not “owning” these walls has caused a sense of uneasiness and yet it frees me from frantic activity.  Renting places leaves the repairs, the attendance to grounds, and the property taxes to someone else.  I still feel a bit of a nomad within these walls.

Part of my release of tending to walls also goes to the personal level. I have dated some fine and not-so-fine men since becoming widowed.  The walls that defined me have been cracked.  Walls that I used to protect me no longer protect, and the walls of opening to others come tumbling down and then get constructed back up again.

I could lament as I sometimes do and ask, “ When will I feel that protection I once had? When will I see the bright sun through the windows again?” 

Telling my story to others, especially men, gets tiresome and yet it is a part of me.  Each time another relationship begins or ends, I am building the foundation for what supports me now.  My gut is getting stronger in trusting my instincts even though my heart still jumps at being a partner again with a framework of walls.  So even with cracked walls, the light shines though and even with shifting walls, the foundation can be firm.

Today, I look at my walls as a resting place for growth, ideas and healing.  I don’t have to adorn them, shore them up or paint them. (Well, knowing me, I might have to hang a tapestry or a piece of favorite artwork.)

Whatever walls appear to be in your loss, they can be temporary.  Placing the items, ideas and purpose within them is important.  Remember that you are the carpenter these days. Measure twice, cut once and all will be aligned.  Trust your gut, trust your level-headed judgment, and your walls be straight, tall, elegant and adorned beautifully just  like you.

Susan Reynolds 2011


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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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