I have always worked my way through grief through cleaning and through playing Bach. I made it through the grief I had during the time of my brother's death last August by organizing his music and the paintings and family memorabilia from my mother that he was transporting to his home in Memphis. I also spent time every day playing Bach on the piano.
I have been making my way through the grief I feel for my father-in-law by getting my own house in order. Marie Kondo refers to cleaning and de-cluttering as "tidying," which is a nice tidy word for a new way of thinking creating order with the things we like keep around us, and getting rid of the things that do not give us joy. Jim Leddy was a very "tidy" man, and my act of tidying is a mindful way of honoring him.
Our daughter sent a message to Michael about Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which she had been reading on the plane en route to the hospice in New Jersey. She thought Michael, who is deeply attracted to the idea of organizing things (and has a lot of things to organize), would like the book. We left the hospice for an hour or two, and went to a fine Barnes and Noble store in Paramus, New Jersey. Michael bought the Kondo book, and I bought a Hal Leonard piano collection of piano music.
The hospice where we were staying had a piano, and I really needed to play in order to work through all of the emotional intensity we were experiencing while Michael's father was in his final days. The piano at the hospice was missing a handful of notes, so I had to use my imagination to fill in the missing pitches. I usually play the piano behind closed doors. Not having all the notes available took the pressure off playing the piano in a public space.
I need to play music in order to feel like a human being. It is just the way I am wired. Years ago, before I started practicing the piano conscientiously, I wondered what it would be like if I were somewhere where the only instrument I could play was a piano. I found myself in such a situation, and I happened to be prepared. Being able to play for an hour or so made all the difference for me. After that I was able to keep myself on track.
We have been home for almost a week, and all my clothes are now folded in the Japanese way. Even though I cannot see into my drawers, I know that they are nicely packed and that everything is accessible. I can now open any drawer and see every item of clothing in it. I also feel that my mind is cleaner when I practice: my playing has magically become more "tidy." Really.
Michael jokes that our house is now a "Kondo-minium." When making the space you live in tidy feels like a pleasure rather than a chore, life feels much more harmonious, even during difficult times.