When Life Throws You a Curve Ball (Decluttering After A Flood)
When life throws you a curve ball, you learn to organize the balls! When you are going through a crisis, such as our recent flood, your resilience comes into play. There may be a continuum of coping mechanisms. Your response to the situation can be a range of emotions. Here’s a bit of what you might be feeling, doing and experiencing when decluttering after an unexpected situation such as recent flooding. This is a continuation of life in Kingwood after the 2017 flood, better known as #KingwoodStrong.
Going through the initial decluttering experience
When you’re going through a flood, there were most likely people helping you. People showed up to support and encourage you. However, you’re in such a state of shock and so overwhelmed you may not be aware of what is being let go of. The goal seems to be to just get rid of things. There’s a lot of damage to your stuff and your property and you are not sure of what to let go of. Those around you may be more sure in their minds.
Sorting and triaging
In this next phase, you’re trying to triage what’s left. You remember you had some things, however you question if these items are still here. At this point you are assessing what do you have. Your emotions center on a combination of loss and gratitude. It’s time to organize what you have. You keep hold of what you have, knowing it’s all you have.
In this step, you are wondering about what to keep now that you have less. Why do I have any keep things even if they’re damaged or broken or stains? Perhaps you think, “at least I have this.” You may be packing up your home for repairs and think I still have a lot or I don’t have much. It’s when real perspective change happens.
The final steps may occur when your home is complete or you have decided to move to a new home. The final steps start when you are making plans for your new home. The refreshing change you make is that you are now looking ahead. It’s time to assess what will be in your new space. You take a deep breath and are ready to make important decision. You realize that you can start to let things go again that don’t have a space, don’t serve you well or you are ready for someone else to benefit from the items.
Living in a flooded community, if you did not flood
I must add a short passage for those who did not flood and supported others. Your compassion and empathy make a difference for those who flood. As you support others in this experience, you are learning and assessing as well. While you did not experience loss, you may feel that now is the best time to declutter given it could have been you. Seize the opportunity while you are motivated to declutter and donate.
It’s a multiple step process in decluttering and organizing after an unexpected situation, such as a flood. You will learn so much about yourself, your partners, your family and your community. Stay strong, stay connected and seek support as needed. In my work with clients throughout the flood saga, our main focus is support. There’s much work to be done after 6 months post flood. #KingwoodStrong
Want to be prepared just in case? Here’s how to create a home inventory for emergency preparedness.
My husband and I got started on a home inventory but never finished. We definitely need to jump back on the wagon. I so relate to your comments about the initial sorting and shedding. Shock is a strange thing, and it is very easy to lose track of what has been kept and what has not. Shock protects us from the intensity of the emotion, but it interferes with thinking and memory. It has me thinking that it might be smart to keep track of everything you trash for future reference. One of my dear friends and a wonderful organizer – Ann Zanon- is headed your way, Ellen. I know you will be a welcoming chapter as she settles into the Houston area!
I can only imagine how challenging all of this has been for your community. I love the emphasis you shared about the importance of supporting one another. We spend a lifetime collecting things that are attached to memories of events, loved ones, and who were are. To have those things swept away unexpectedly is so traumatic. But what is also true is that it’s an opportunity. And that’s what you have presented. The takeaways are gratitude, opportunity, and support. Your community and clients are lucky to have you to help them.
Yes, this is an experience that no community should have to experience. It’s been a learning curve for everyone here.
Thank you for sharing Ann! We are excited that she is a member of our NAPO Houston community!