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Archive for December, 2009

Interview with Sally Wagner, Organized Peace – Professional Organizer

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on December 10, 2009

Welcome Sally Wagner of Organized Peace. 

Sally is a Professional Organizer and we are delighted that she has taken the time to provide us with her suggestions on how to assist a love one with re-organizing their home after the loss of a family member.   Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences in the comment section below.

And here is our interview with Sally Wagner…

After the loss of a loved one, people often don’t know where to start when going through their belongings.  What suggestions do you have on where to begin? 

This is definitely a task that should be done with someone at your side.  Until a person has gone through the effort of releasing no longer needed items, it is hard to understand the emotions tied to them.  This is where we can really help.  A professional organizer can step you through the sorting process with sensitivity and empathy, while guiding you to completion.

Rearranging your life, including your home, after the loss of a spouse, parent or child is very emotional.   What are 2 or 3 strategies you can suggest to help ease someone into this process of giving away clothing and other items of the deceased?

  •  Evaluate the environment for the volume of things to be taken into consideration
  • Determine what items can quickly be released – given to a family member, donated or tossed
  • Evaluate the sensitive items and decide where they will go, or if certain items will just have to wait
  • Set a future date to complete paperwork or decisions, if needed
  • Put special items in a special place for memories

All of us have attachments to our “stuff”, what are some of the strategies you have used to assist your clients with easing through the process of letting go of the items in their home that they no longer need?

During the sorting process, many people will come to the conclusion that all of the items are not needed.  This is based on asking specific questions about what the item would be used for and how long it has been getting dusted.

Discuss the “real” value of items – furniture, clothing, old papers – 30 years of magazines usually have no value (comic books are another story)

Confirm that it is normal to have some attachment to stuff, but it might feel good to know that someone who really needed the donation could be found. 

Date any boxes or items to see if they are touched in the next 6 to 12 months.  If not, reevaluate the “need”. 

Why should you work with a professional organizer?  How does your service differ from just having family and friends help with reorganizing a home after the loss of a loved one?

The professional organizer will be able to work with you without the emotional attachment.  Of course this will be acknowledged, but having someone else manage the “plan” can be very helpful.  Friends and Family are great resources during the time of loss.  Frequently they are a welcome support in this process, but the professional organizer can lay out a plan, make appointments and provide a focus to getting this difficult job done. 

Where do you recommend that people donate their extra home items and clothing? 

I usually ask if they have specific organizations they would like to support, such as churches and family centers, or I recommend one that I use in the area.  Usually I will take the items with me, to avoid second decisions and having to re-think the same things.  Most people will feel a sense of relief for every box or bag they have sent off to help someone else.  And although it probably won’t seem important at the time, I will send along the tax deductible receipt.

How can your services benefit an elderly family member that is moving into a retirement home or someone that has lost a loved one? 

Frequently the family does not live in the same area or has difficulty taking extensive time off of work.  Also, elderly family members may feel they are being “pushed” to make the move for another person’s gain.  Having a professional organizer as the 3rd party coordinating the move, takes some of the pressure off of the well intended family members.  The professional organizer can act as the mediator to accomplish the goals without all of the emotion.  

I usually let elderly people know that I will be like their secretary or assistant for a short period of time.  This terminology lets them know that I respect their authority in the situation and plan to work hard to make them as comfortable as possible. 

What about you stands out from other professional organizers? 

I clearly understand the issues and emotions about “stuff”.  Most people have a lot to sort out because they have become overwhelmed by papers and things.  They don’t know where to start.  It is beautiful to have a complete clean and organized environment, but that takes time.  And the time it takes is different for everyone.  What makes me stand out from other professional organizers is my large family experience, business expertise and emotional background.  I work with people to find a process that is right for them.   By demonstrating how even one closet, box or drawer cleaned out can happen, people begin to open up and move in a positive direction.

About Sally Wagner & Organized Peace
After 30 years in high tech, I wanted to take all the skills collected throughout my life and provide a service that would guide people to a more comfortable life.  Between positions, I planned to get all kinds of things done, but it only happened if a friend, sisters, brothers or parents came by to help.  I wondered if other people felt the same way and they did.  Having a schedule to do the project made all the difference in the world.  We got it done, and then we went to lunch.  Now that’s a plan!

 There is huge satisfaction in a job well done and I frequently cheer with clients when we look at what has been accomplished. 

To contact Sally Kane Wagner at Organized Peace, LLC, www.organizedpeace.com, skwagner@organizedpeace.com   

Sally Wagner work’s predominantly in the Northern Virginia area and is available by appointment.  If you are looking for a unique gift for a loved one, Sally also offers Gift Certificates throughout the year.

Posted in Grief Resources, Loss of a Spouse, Thoughtful Sympathy Gifts, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Virtual Book Tour – From Sorrow to Dancing by Marcy Kelly

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on December 1, 2009

Thank you for joining us on our Virtual Book Tour.

Today we Welcome Marcy Kelly, the author of From Sorrow to Dancing.  We are delighted that Marcy has been able to provide us with her insights and suggestions on how to assist a loved that has lost their spouse.  Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences with grief and the healing process in the comment section below.

From Sorrow to Dancing is featured on our Helpful Books page under Grief Support.

And here is our interview with Marcy Kelly… 

What inspired you to write the book From Sorrow to Dancing?

I wrote my book because becoming widow tears out your heart and can seem to make you into half the person you were before being thrust into this terrible situation.  Being widowed is certainly not something anyone would aspire to be in life but it is a fact of life for many, many women and men.  As a result of having to go through this situation twice, and actually becoming a whole person who has hope again, I thought I had something to say that might help others.

You lost both of your husbands at an early age, how did losing your husbands change your life?

I lost my first husband after 15 years of marriage when I was 35 years of age.  When he died, I had a nine year old son, a high school education with a few college credits, and a lot of fear about the future.  After I emerged from the cloud of trauma which sets in after a death, I felt the responsibility to continue living because my son needed a mom.  So, I got back into life the best I could.

I remarried 13 months later, and started what I hoped would be a great marriage with a secure life for my son.  The marriage was great, and my son bonded well with his step-dad.  We had been married for 15 years when he also died of cancer.  When I was widowed the second time, my son was grown with a job and a new wife.  I thought this time that there was no reason for me to go on in life.  My son didn’t need me, my husband was gone, I had no real career that I cared about.  I was depressed and sad.  All I wanted to do was to curl up in bed and never get up.  It took me a few years to get back into life and into feeling that life was worth living.

How is the death of a spouse different from divorce?

Although I have never been divorced, I have spoken with many people who have been divorced and my answer comes from those discussions.  I am certainly not an expert on this question.  However, one thing I realize is that when someone dies, all hope is gone.  There is no chance that reconciliation can happen when the person is dead.  I was fortunate to have good marriages so the anger that goes with betrayal, rejection, and other parts of divorce was not something I experienced.  Loss is loss, regardless of the reason.  It needs to be grieved.

How does losing a spouse differ from losing a parent, a sibling or another immediate family member?

I think losing a spouse is different from losing a parent because, hopefully, when one gets married and starts her own family, she moves away from her parents and bonds to her husband.  If the family of origin is a close family, the pain of losing a parent will be greatly felt and needs to be recognized and grieved.  That being said, when the husband is gone, a big part of the wife goes away as well.  Grief over losing a anyone is very horrendous and not to be minimized.  All grieving is difficult.

I understand that losing a child is very different, and since I have never experienced that type of grief, I am not qualified to speak about it.  I have also never lost a sibling so I cannot comment on that pain.

Is there any one thing that your family or friends did for you that assisted you through the grieving process?  (i.e. a special card someone sent you, a favorite place they took you, listened when you needed support, etc.)

In my book, From Sorrow to Dancing, I recount several things that people did for me after each of my husbands died.  An example would be a woman named Victoria who asked what she could do for me immediately after my first husband died.  I really couldn’t think of anything at that time so I suggested she might want to call me in three months to see if I needed anything.  To my amazement, she called three months later.  I still didn’t need anything but I have never forgotten her kindness in remembering me.

What do you wish your family or friends had done differently after you lost your husband? 

My family and friends were extremely supportive and helpful after the death of each husband so I can’t think of anything they should have done differently.  In my book I recount the story of Jean whose husband committed suicide while they were separated due to marriage problems.  Jean’s in-laws blamed her for the suicide and were harsh as they isolated Jean from the rest of the family during the funeral.  Jean had a very difficult time getting over the pain of the way she had been treated.

What is one thing you would like your readers to take away from your book?

I want people to realize that life for the widow does not have to end when her husband dies.  Yes, her life will greatly change and it will be painful and hard for awhile.  However, the choices the widow makes are what determine whether she also dies (literally or figuratively) or whether she moves through the grief into the rest of her life.  There is hope and joy in the future if she chooses to move toward it.

What are your top four suggestions to help people move forward in the grieving process?

  1. Do a personal check concerning your attitude.  Are you bitter?  If so, learn to forgive.
  2. Give yourself and others grace to make mistakes during the grieving process.
  3. Put off making big decisions for at least a year.
  4. Be around caring people and allow them to help you.

What do you want our readers to know about you and/or your book?

I want the readers to know that I am a regular mom and wife who has lived through some very difficult times.  I have made many mistakes and don’t know everything there is to know about grieving but I do know that when my husbands died, I made a choice to act in a way that would make people want to be around me.  I didn’t want to be bitter or angry (that would be the easy way to react to my pain).  I wanted to leave “sunshine in my tracks” so that when people had been in my presence they would come away feeling better than before.  I worked hard to change my attitude and in doing so, I moved into a new, good life.

I also want people to know that I believe one of the biggest reasons I got through the grieving so completely was because of my faith in God.  Prayer and faith are truly healing.

Do you plan to write any other books?

At this time, I don’t have any plans for another book but we never know what the future will bring.

From Sorrow to Dancing is featured on ourHelpful Bookspage under Grief Support.


Posted in Grief Resources, Loss of a Spouse, Virtual Book Tour, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »