Guest Blog by Kerry Anne Nelson
For the past three years I have been on a liberating pathway that came out of the most devastating grief that I have ever faced. The darkness of loss is gutting to the point of nauseating. It is sadness as deep as the Grand Canyon, and terror as blinding as the black of midnight. On May 28 2014 I returned from working in our family business to find my husband had passed away unexpectedly at home. Some might think it strange that a journey filled with light, positivity and empowerment could begin with this kind of loss. Indeed … I don’t think I could have conceived it myself if I hadn’t walked every step of this journey.
My memory is crystal clear. This freedom trek started on the day I had to remove my late husband’s coffee mug from his desk after he died. Up until that point I hadn’t been able to bring myself to move a single thing that he owned. His towel still hung in the bathroom, his shoes remained on the front step. In my mind’s eye I still saw him there, showering in the morning and preparing for work. To remove his things conflicted deeply with those fresh images I held onto so tightly. In my heart he was still alive through my love, and this looked like holding onto his stuff in our home.
But time passes, things change. The mould after a couple of weeks told me it was time. I wept as I carried the mug to the sink, and my tears flowed as I rinsed out that mug. But the damn had been burst, and the floodgates opened. From there I had to keep going. Over the next few weeks I filed documents, organised drawers, and I slowly cleaned out the rest of his desk. Then I bravely took on his wardrobe. I started with the clothes he had always disliked, giving him permission to be rid of things that were too tight, and the neck ties he hadn’t worn in years. Over a period of months, I had removed everything except a couple of his favourites.
At the same time, I was doing a clean out at work. We had shared an online business for the past decade, so our office space and warehouse needed that same kind of organisational overhaul. It took over a year at work, but I culled papers, stock, equipment and lots of things that others would have described as junk. To me it wasn’t junk. Amidst all that stuff were memories of love, ambition, and a live well lived. It is so easy to attach ourselves to possessions because we defer our feelings there. Letting the stuff go can feel like rubbing salt into the wounds that have already cut so deep. It was hard. It hurt. It was painful, but I needed to be free…
I was ruthless. After 6 months I was ready to take a big step into my future. I moved to a smaller house with my daughter, and the great cull continued. My wardrobe, my linen cupboard, kitchen, office. It was all cleared, cleaned and cleansed. Then, I sold our old business. I made space for new projects, new wins, and you wouldn’t believe it, but I have even made space for new love. A few months ago, I moved again. This time to a tiny apartment above a shop. My daughter moved out and now I have the place to myself with my new partner. Still more cleansing has been done, and there is still more to go. This is my lifestyle now. And I have learned a valuable lesson that I am grateful for to this day.
The stuff is gone, but I have lost nothing. In fact, I’ve gained the world. I am lighter, more free. More able to embrace today, and more prepared to face tomorrow. The love still lives, the memories remain. But I have added clarity, focus, and direction to my personal picture. Without all that STUFF, I can run with abandon towards the deepest passions of my heart.
More about Kerry Anne Nelson
On May 28 2014 I returned from working in our family business to find my husband had passed away unexpectedly at home. I realised overnight that it all came down to one question: “Do I let my passion die with him, or do I follow it with abandon?” Since then I have invested everything into my newfound purpose. Now I’m a speaker, author and event organiser who helps people find and follow their passion. My experience in business, education, event management and team leadership have created fast wins that appear almost instant. When it comes to teaching people that they already have everything they need to follow their passion I’m the inspirational, “overnight success” that has actually been twenty years in the making.