Dismantling the Shrine

Did you know that many people struggle with “dismantling the shrine” following the death of their spouse or loved one? It creates a situation where organizing and decluttering become almost impossible. In fact, one of the top reasons widowed persons reach out to me is because they struggle with what to do with all of the stuff.

Do any of these thoughts ring true for you?

  • If I leave it, he/she might come back.
  • If I organize/declutter it, I’m acknowledging they’re never coming back.
  • It was his. It was hers.
  • I’m erasing him or her.

The truth of the matter is that moving, cleaning, boxing up, decluttering, or giving away our loved ones possessions will not make any of those thoughts listed above a reality. It’s ok.

A large part of moving forward is letting some of the things go, and in the process, making peace with the fact that our loved one will not be coming back.

Julie Martella

If you’re feeling like the universe, or God, or whatever you want to call it, is telling you it’s ok to let some of the things go, here’s a way to help you prepare for and deal with the feelings that will arise.

  • Sit in the space with a journal and write down the thoughts that arise.
  • Sit with them. Allow it to be uncomfortable for a moment. Acknowledge them, maybe even speaking it aloud.
  • Take your “editing pen” and examine those thoughts. Start crossing off the ones that aren’t serving you or no longer ring true.
  • Ask yourself how you want to feel when the task is done. Allow yourself to feel that inside of you for a moment.
  • Then get to work on the room or space, and feel that sense of purpose and determination as you work to dismantle the shrine.

Here’s the beauty in the beast. Cleaning out and dismantling the shrine allows you to preserve the best that was your loved one. By removing the rest of the clutter, it leaves you with a curated collection that you can bring that with you into your new, unintended life. When the process is done, you can tell yourself things such as:

  • Yes, they did exist.
  • I did not erase them.
  • I don’t have to make him or her disappear.
  • I am not deleting them.
  • I am discovering the very best of my loved one.

Remember, you can feel terrified AND still do the hard work of grief!

Blessings always,


I know this is a hard process, so give yourself some grace. I run a program for widowed people to help with these very things. If you want to talk just reach out. I’m here for you, and together we can get this done.

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