By Sharon Wilson

Spring Cleaning - Detachment WINE

I tackled cleaning the bathroom today. It was a huge job. It’s not that I haven’t cleaned the bathroom for a long time (it gets a cleaning weekly), but the cupboards and shelves haven’t been cleaned out for years.

I have been watching a few videos on Swedish Death Cleaning, and I am trying to downsize and get rid of my junk.  If you haven’t heard of Swedish Death Cleaning, it is not about cleaning out things after someone dies; it is about de-cluttering your life and possessions while you are alive, so others don’t have to worry about it when you are gone.  It seems to be a hot craze right now on social media, but we Catholics have known about this for a long time.  We call it detachment.


The theme of detachment appears throughout Catholic spiritual tradition. St. John of the Cross’s writings emphasize detachment from the body, mind, and soul’s appetites to deepen spirituality. I am unsure how spiritual this Spring Cleaning is for me, but I am detaching from my excess Tupperware!

I am also considering moving to my downstairs apartment, where my son and his wife live, and having them move upstairs.  Downsizing from a three-bedroom space to a one-bedroom will take some time.  

My husband died two years ago, and I shouldn’t have to be doing all of this on my own. 

I already went through most of Dave’s clothes and other items over a year ago. The kids and I took a few items of his that we wanted to keep, including some slouchy and comfy sweatshirts that we would steal from him anyway. The shaving items on the vanity were one of the hardest things to part with. That and his shoes. I am unsure why, but his shoes were hard to give away.   


I have slowly gone through my clothes, kitchen appliances, and odd drawers, trying to donate or throw away things that I no longer use, and my children do not want. Today, I started with the vanity top in the bathroom and got rid of the extra makeup and other items I do not use. Then I looked to the cupboards below the sink and tossed cleaning supplies I did not use or that were ancient and a few hair-curling devices that never worked on my hair.  

I then moved to the linen closet that has deep shelves.  I was thinking, “How many towels do I need?” when I came across Dave’s shoeshine kit.  “You can tell a man by how well he keeps his shoes,” he always used to say.  I set that aside for my son. Maybe he would like the kit.

The oddest thing I found next was a small medicine travel container filled with Tums. As I opened it, I began to cry.  He was the last one who touched those items. Thinking about him almost seemed sacred, and I cried all over again.  

As I consider this move, I will also need to decide how many pictures of Dave I want to hang in my new space. Right now, Dave is in every room, on the TV, on my phone, and on my computer. He will be in every room in the one-bedroom apartment downstairs, too, and even if he wasn’t, he occupies that space anyway. 

Pain of Loss

It has been over two years since Dave passed away.  The grief doesn’t go away. A friend of mine, Colleen Connell, author, and just an all-around amazing woman, posted about the loss of her infant son fourteen years ago.  She describes her grief this way.

“Grief is a strange companion. She is more gentle with me now than she once was, but still, she begs my attention and tending.”

While I detach from material things, I am noticing a lessening of the day-to-day pain in the loss of my husband.  It’s not that I think of him less or that I am forgetting him, but I am letting go of the pain. With less pain, I have more room in my heart. 

What might you be called to detach from? 



Christ, graciously hear us so that we may be detached from the things of this world and strive for the things that truly matter. Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. Through Your light and love, we may find comfort and resilience.

Call to Action

This summer, take one bag of weekly donations to a donation center.  Not only will your closets be cleaner, but your heart might be lighter!


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