Reduce the Clutter and Focus on the Basics—in Life and in Grief

Simple red building front, yellow door, bicycle, reduce clutter, grief healingI don’t know why this is true – but when you reduce the clutter in your physical surroundings, something takes place inside of you, too. When you clean out and discard things you don’t need, and organize what you decide to keep, it seems as though it’s easier to think, to move forward, and to do the things you need to do. Reduce the clutter and focus on the basics, and you will see benefits – in life and in grief.

It’s easy to get bogged down by surplus ‘stuff,’ hindered by excess details, and paralyzed by ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts.’ And it’s especially easy to get stalled in grief when grief is already puzzling and overwhelming. Add extra hindrances to the mix, and you have a surefire recipe for getting stuck!

Focus on the Basics

Often people who are grieving try to take on too much at a time. They fail to realize that they’re probably operating at less than full speed, and they don’t take the necessary steps to cut back and focus on the basics.

Each of us has things in our lives that we don’t need to attend to right away – or sometimes at all. Stop, look around, and identify what you absolutely must do. See what you can let go of. And choose to focus on the basics, the necessities. Let go of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts.’

The ‘Urgent’ –  a Master Masquerader

Some live their lives based on the tyranny of the urgent. Only sometimes the ‘urgent’ simply masquerades as the most crucial or necessary, when it is actually the loudest, most persistent, most attention-getting device to coerce you into dropping everything else and putting out the fire at hand. When you allow the ‘urgent’ things to consistently control your life, you’re squandering your time and forfeiting your option to choose what is best.

Grief is not a time in your life when you need to be overloaded or weighed down by unnecessary duties, tasks, responsibilities, or difficult negative relationships. Decide to give yourself a break and focus only on the things that are truly important and essential. Direct your attention and action toward the steps that will benefit your life and your grief journey.

Be kind to yourself. Take care of yourself. Be a friend to yourself. And don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about these choices.


There is something enormously freeing about reducing the clutter in your life. It’s like taking in a breath of fresh air, being energized, and just letting go. Somehow you’re propelled forward in a fresh way. A weight has been lifted. You entertain new ideas. Your perspective shifts.

Life is much less stressful when you whittle down your ‘must-do’ list to the things that really are crucial. Don’t be fooled by imposters that try to steal your time and attention. Stand firm on the basics. Then you’ll also be stronger and more able to face your grief head-on and take the steps to work through it.

Once you catch the ‘reduce the clutter’ bug and focus on the basics, it’s contagious. I’m speaking from experience. When you begin to let go of things (physically and mentally), the letting go gets easier. I’m ready for the next round. How about you?

© 2015 Judy Brizendine

Related reading:
Back to Basics – The Tasks of Grief – Leslee Tessmann
Finding a Balance: Self Care Quiz – Patti Cox from Hello Grief blog
How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress – Julie McCormick on Lifehack
Clear the Clutter to Reduce Stress – Cynthia Ross Cravit on



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2 Responses to “Reduce the Clutter and Focus on the Basics—in Life and in Grief”

  1. Geneveive Reid says:

    At this stage, I’m too weighed down by grief to be functional at anything, including reducing the clutter in my life.

    However, I do get your point & will attend to clutter when I move through more healing. I also believe this will be a healing journey for me.

    • admin says:

      Dear Geneveive,
      Thank you for reading the article and sharing your thoughts. Grief can be overwhelming and overpowering, and although you’re not able to reduce the clutter at this time, be sure to take good care of yourself. Say no to activities and responsibilities that are simply too much to handle. Saying no will help you conserve your strength for the things that are necessary and helpful, including your grief journey.

      Grief takes time, and it will be a healing journey for you if you want it to be – and it sounds as though you do. In its time.

      I hope you have some friends or family nearby to encourage and support you. I pray that God will hold you especially close during these difficult days.