Clutter and Grief


Clutter and Grief

There are many reasons why one might struggle with clutter in their homes, but one of them is grieving, which can be the result of a number of losses. Grief, in fact, may manifest in one’s environment as accumulation from indecision and exteriorizing one’s inability to release someone (or something).

When clutter amasses in one’s dwelling after a loss, it’s important to respect that person’s state as, chances are, you might not know exactly what they are going through. Grief-induced clutter is very different in nature and magnitude than say, occasional situational clutter (like when your cousin’s family stays for two weeks and everything ends up in a disarray).

Longstanding clutter could be a sign that someone is stuck in the grieving process, in which case counseling or professional organizing services might be appropriate. Disorganization and clutter can have many sources including:

  • Depression and lack of energy.
  • Difficulty prioritizing and assigning value to sentimental items.
  • Lack of focus and inability to concentrate.
  • Feelings of overwhelm, by the “administrative” duties of burying someone (bills, estate issues, medical bills, social security, etc.).
  • Lack of bereavement support (in the case of a death).
  • An inability to accept the loss, whether it’s a death, an illness, a job termination or a breakup.

While there are things you can do to help loved ones who are struggling with clutter and grief, such as offering to help them sort, clean and organize, sometimes professionals are better equipped to help them move through their feelings and their attachment to things they associate with the object of their loss. Of course, the professionals should be specifically trained in the area of grief and, in the case of professional organizers, clutter and grief.

Losses can take many faces, including bereaved loved ones, relationship breakups, job terminations, or even empty-nest syndrome. Everyone experiences sudden life changes differently, and it’s important not to judge the magnitude of your loved one’s grief. It’s more productive to simply find ways to be supportive.

If someone you care about is struggling with loss-related clutter issues, it’s important to respect their feelings. You may think it’s strange that they want to keep a deceased person’s shoes after they die, for instance, but insisting they are being ridiculous or trying to pressure them into tossing them may do more harm than good. While you may find their attachments to be disproportionate or think it irrational of them to say, “he might need them (the shoes) when he comes back,” that level of denial is extremely common among people who lose someone. That denial stage is, in fact, a normal grief stage, and for some, throwing something away is like throwing someone away. This is not something to take lightly.

Some people may want to immediately discard or give away the person’s belongings and this isn’t necessarily a healthy response to loss either. They could be actually denying the person existed by erasing all the signs. Again, professionals may be better equipped to deal with grief-related issues, and it’s important to treat your loved ones with kindness and respect.

For those struggling with grief clutter, throwing things away and criticizing them isn’t likely to be helpful. Gentle communication, non-judgment, and allowing them to feel empowered and make their own decisions and connections will help them get through their crisis and grief and move onto the next stage.

While professional help for grief-related clutter issues may be in order, there are some practical things one can suggest or offer to help with, that might make a short or long term difference to a survivor of a loss:

  • Ask if it is appropriate to set a time in the future to go through belongings with family members.
  • Offer to help them box up some items for temporary storage – even to get them out of view until a final decision can be made.
  • Offer to help them sort items into boxes and label them.
  • Offer to help them sort and donate unwanted items to a charity, provided they are emotionally ready for that step.
  • Create a “sad box,” a “treasure box” or some other clearly marked place to store special mementos or even those things that might trigger strong emotions at a later date.
  • Ask the person if they can think of something you can help them with, whether it’s cleaning, organizing or communicating with others (chances are, they may not be capable of asking, or sorting it out on their own).
  • Ask them if they would like you to help them find a professional organizer or grief counselor.
  • Simply be a friend.

Jonda Beattie, a professional organizer (, shared these thoughts about grieving people:

  • When first experiencing grief, you are in a fog – time is distorted – events are unreal. There is a lack of focus, so don’t do anything major in your first year.
  • Get help in sorting through important papers as you are not capable of making big decisions.
  • The easiest items to let go of are personal items of the deceased that mean something to someone else. Example: my husband’s wedding ring had his family crest on it so it was easy to give it and some of his most personal items to his son. My mother had many things that some of her friends would really enjoy and cherish. These were easy to give away.

Jonda has several blog posts on her site about preparing for death, including one on death and digital assets, an informative read.

Grief-induced clutter is something deserving of tender care, gentle support and, in some cases, professional help. You can find grief therapists in your local yellow pages or in online directories, and for professional organizers, try the Find a Pro section on the NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) website, or contact Jonda on her website.

Do you have any thoughts or ideas about clutter and grief you’d like to share? Feel free to comment.



Dorm Bathroom Essentials – 10 Employee Picks – Laurie


dorm bathroom

Dorm Bathroom Essentials Employee Picks – from my Organized World to Yours – Laurie

No one is going to argue that dorm bathrooms aren’t the suckiest part of living on campus. It’s just a fact. Whether you share a suite with three or more people you don’t know or you have to lug your bucket of beauty aids down the hall to use community showers, dorm bathrooms will most likely make you um, appreciate your childhood home.

There’s never enough room in dorms for all of your stuff, your clothes, the universe and possessions that you have grown to depend on, the stuff that makes you YOU. Let’s face it, dorms were not really made for humans! But there you are. You have no choice really, but to make the best of it, bite the bullet, reduce, embrace a minimalist lifestyle, and go get an education. There will be inconveniences. Lots. But I’m going to make your life easier, by sharing some products with you, my very favorite, tried and true bath products. With a little luck, these will get your own gears turning for back-to-school preparation.

dorm bath caddy

1. Dorm Bath Caddy

Lightweight, but with lots of compartments for your bath gear, this portable caddy is perfect for lugging your bath accessories down to the community bath – or to your in-suite shared dorm bath. Two large compartments hold large shampoos and skin products and three smaller middle compartments are great for soap, razors and loofahs. Aside from transporting your stuff, this keeps all your bath essentials corralled in one convenient place. Cost: $6.99.

shower rod caddy

2. Shower Rod Caddy

When you share a dorm bathroom, or if you’re lucky enough to have your own, this over-rod shower caddy is great for holding all your toiletries. It has six pockets (three large and three small) for shampoo, soap, foot stones and more… The best part is that it’s made of mesh so it easily drains and keeps your accessories dry. Cost: $9.99.

shower head caddy

3. Over-Showerhead Caddy

This shower caddy is my top pick for in-room bathrooms as it has two adjustable shelves and lots of onboard storage for shampoo, razors, soap and more. The bottom soap dish has two integrated hooks for hanging wash clothes or loofahs. It requires no tools for installation and costs only $21.99.

hairdryer iron holder

4. Hairdryer – Iron Holder

The beauty of this hairdryer holder is it’s simplicity. Plus, it takes up little space and you can use it on a vanity, a dresser, or some other flat space. Because it’s freestanding, there’s no screws or drills to worry about. The resting surfaces are made of heat-resistant silicone, so there’s no worry about burning mishaps, provided you remember to unplug the iron. It includes storage for one hairdryer and one curling iron. Cost: 15.99.

over-tank storage

5. Over-Tank Storage Basket

Provided your dorm toilet has a tank (and maybe it doesn’t), this over-tank wire storage basket is a great way to make extra storage space in that underutilized place next to the toilet. Just lift up the lid and hook it over the rim and tah-dah, instant storage for Kleenex, your hairdryer, or any variety of bath essentials. Cost: $12.99

over-door towel rack

6. Over-Door Towel Rack

Not enough towel racks in your dorm bathroom? The over-door rack to the rescue! This one has three hanger bars for towels and washcloths and fits easily over any standard-thickness door. Cost: $31.99

clear tote

7. Clear Tote

A waterproof, clear tote is a great multipurpose bag for down-the-hall shower use and more. Along with carrying towels and bath accessories, this bag will meet safety requirements for football games and other events, thanks to the clear, zippered design. Cost: $10.99


8. Shower Squeegee

Save cleaning time by using a shower squeegee after each shower session. Get your roomies on board with your routine and quadruple the fun. This one by OXO works great and has a built-in hook for hanging storage. Cost: $9.99.

makeup storage

9. Makeup Storage Box

Put your face on anywhere with this makeup storage box by Umbra. Stylish and functional, this box has a smartly-designed handle for carrying, a bottom drawer for pencils and mascaras, and three upright bins for your brushes and other accessories. It’s also great for storing nail files and other nail accessories. Cost: $29.99.

shower storage suction

10. Shower Accessory Holder – Suction

This is yet another great way to hold bathroom accessories on a shower wall without tools, holes or trouble. This suction accessory holder is 15-inches long with lots of room for storage and drainage holes to release moisture and prevent mildew. Cost: $9.99.


Back-to-School Lunch Accessories – Top 10

  • Reusable Lunch Bag
  • bento lunch box top view
  • condiment containers
  • snack containers
  • sandwich wrap
  • soup containers
  • sandwich box
  • folding cutlery
  • salad to go alt
  • insulated food container

Back-to-School Lunch Accessories – Our Top 10 Picks for the New School Year

It’s now August and the school year’s quickly approaching. Where did the summer go? Well, there’s still a little left, so be sure to savor it, but it’s not too early to start planning for school. Most likely, the priority school concerns are: transportation, school clothes, gathering and packing basic school supplies, locker organizing and, one of the most time consuming – packing lunches.

Lunches don’t have to be hard with careful planning. Check out our back-to-school Pinterest board for lots of back-to-school ideas, including great lunch accessories, meal planning, learning aids and more. For your convenience, we’ve compiled our top 10 favorite lunch accessories for easy, no-brainer, back-to-school shopping. Enjoy our slides above and use the links below to learn more about these handy lunch accessories. Most of these are from the Fuel line by Trudeau, and it’s no accident they’re on our top 10 list because they make super-high-quality products (and many even come with warranties).

1. Reusable Lunch Bag

Eco-friendly, with the added benefit of insulation, this reusable lunch bag has the nostalgic value of a good old paper sack without the waste. Modern and lightweight, the bag is made from BPA-free polyethylene, is foam-padded, and costs only $13.99.

2. Bento Lunch Box

Pack an entire meal in a single container with the Bento lunch box. Two removable compartments hold up to 45 ounces of food. One container has an open design, and the other one has three compartments to separate vegetables, fruits or snacks. This Japanese-style box is space-efficient, and can be tucked neatly into backpacks, briefcases and purses. It’s safe for the dishwasher and costs only $14.99.

3. Mini Condiment Containers

Nothing is more disappointing than a soggy salad on your first day of school (or any time). These mini-condiment containers are perfect for slipping dressings, condiments, or mini-servings of relishes and other foods into your pumpkin’s lunch. They snap together for stackable storage and are safe for the dishwasher. They come in sets of three, hold 2 ounces each and, for only $3.99 per set, you can buy a fleet of them.

4. Snack Container

Celery, carrots, breadsticks, pretzels and other snacks travel happily in this snack container. A small end compartment is perfect for dips, peanut butter or nuts and, at 6.75 inches, it takes up little room in a backpack or lunch box. Cost: $3.99.

5. Insulated Sandwich Wrap

salad wrap smallIt’s not just for sandwiches! The insulated sandwich wrap keeps burritos, pitas and rollups warm and ready to eat. It measures 15.5 by 17 inches and has a foil lining for insulation and a Velcro closure and carrying strap. Cost: $7.99.

6. Soup Containers

These lightweight soup containers keep liquids warm or cold and feature a leak-proof design for secure usage. Each container stores 16 ounces of soup, pasta, casserole or other foods and has convenient, built-in handles. Cost: $8.99 each and available in two color choices.

7. Sandwich Box

The sandwich box is our other eco-friendly pick. Reduce plastic waste by packing sandwiches in this reusable plastic box. It’s BPA-free and includes a limited-lifetime manufacturers warranty. Cost: $4.99.

8. Travel Cutlery

Here’s another reusable lunch accessory for eco-friendly lunches: the travel cutlery set. No more disposable plastic! Plus, it saves you money in the long run. Cost: $4.99.

9. Salad Container

salad to go smallSalads make a nutritional lunch accompaniment while providing lots of vitamins to your kiddo. This secure salad container holds 40 ounces of salad, has a slim profile, and includes an ice pack to keep it cold until lunch hour. Combine it with the condiment containers for a tasty, non-soggy meal. Cost: $14.99.

10. Insulated 12-Ounce Food Container

Hot or cold, beverages and soups travel well in this food container. Super-compact, at only 7.5 inches high, this insulated carrier keeps your honey’s food at the right temperature for eating. Cost: $9.99.

For more back-to-school lunch accessories, as well as back-to-school supplies of all kinds, check out the Organize-It website or use the “shop” link on the menu bar.

kid's lunch