Emotional & Mental Health for Widows

Spring Cleaning Our Minds and Hearts: Be a Warrior

Marilyn Nutter

Field – Colorful Flowers – Summer, freerangestock.com

One of my friends posted on Facebook that she was selling/donating all of her hobby items because she no longer had the desire to use them. She listed a broom and dustpan, sponges, mop and bucket, window cleaner, and a vacuum. I burst out laughing as my thoughts turned to Spring cleaning in my pollen-covered environment.

My mother approached Spring cleaning like a warrior. Back in the day, women washed blinds and walls, polished furniture, moved seasonal clothing to closets and chests, and mopped and waxed floors. Venetian blinds were put in a bathtub with a pungent cleaning solution. My grandmother used mothballs to store wool clothing and coats. Windows looked like crystal, and my mother used a furniture polish I can still smell if I close my eyes.

Today we don’t approach Spring cleaning with that same effort or enthusiasm. I once used a cleaning schedule, and by doing a major project every three weeks, I didn’t have to Spring clean.

Or maybe you hire someone.

Whatever we choose, our real priority is Spring cleaning ourselves—not a spa and a pedicure, as delightful as that is, but our minds and hearts. So as I took personal inventory, if I want to thrive and not just survive, I thought of three areas of focus for personal spring cleaning.


Perhaps you’ve heard the story about the young couple who moved into a new neighborhood. One morning while eating breakfast, the young woman looked out her window at her neighbor hanging the laundry. She made the same observation for weeks: “That laundry isn’t very clean”. One day, the woman said to her husband: “Look. Her laundry looks better. I wonder what she did.”

“The husband answered, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”

Read the rest of the Dirty Laundry Story

If our windows are dirty, will we see fuzzy surroundings? In history books, date are noted as BC and AD. Currently, we reference our activities or lack of them, as “before Covid”. And widows use our husband’s death date as a marker. “When I was married, we did _____ but after Randy died, I ______ ” That’s our window. So how do we look through it?

  • I can dwell on our Noah’s Ark couple’s culture and feel invisible or alone. Or I could say in the reality of my singleness, “I am thankful I have found resources and support through MWC support. I’m glad for new friends. I’m glad I can walk alongside another widow in new grief. I’m thankful I ___________”
  • I can lament my husband only knew four of my eight grandchildren, or I can think wow—what a blessing to have four more and see my children happy.
  • I can know I still have purpose.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV


The mothballs and chemicals were not a fragrance but an odor. Not an awful one that made me nauseous, but certainly not pleasant. The furniture polish was pleasant, and to this day, I associate it with the security and sweetness of my home and a Mom who was an amazing housekeeper.  

I determine my fragrance–a pity party with complaints, or I with responsibility, think about how to use my gifts and talents. I can find a hobby, reach out to others, or find an area to serve. Sadness and loneliness are real, but I don’t have to live there 24/7. 

We spread the fragrances of encouragement, mentoring, fun, and laughter. We spread the fragrance of optimism when we try something new or watch another widow who is adventurous and courageous. The aroma of love and grace fill a room when we are present for a woman who is hurting.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 2 Cor. 2:14 NIV

Our pleasant fragrance spreads, lingers and is life-giving. 

Finally, clutter

Marie Kondo author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, says if something doesn’t bring you joy, discard it. Is what I dwell on and talk about healthy and bring joy? Each of us is different in what clutters our minds: dwelling on hurts in a relational conflict, TV shows that keep us awake, comparisons to married couples or other widows, regrets over what we can’t change or replace, or time on social media. Clutter and distractions rob us of time, joy, and stability.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV

As restrictions are lifted, it’s fitting we can turn to spring cleaning and begin to re-enter living. Think about what you want to tackle in your personal life:

  • your windows of perspective 
  • fragrance—attitudes and what you communicate to others, or 
  • clutter—discarding those activities, thoughts or even relationships that don’t bring joy. 

My mother, the warrior, left an amazing sparkling legacy—so can we.

Bio: Marilyn Nutter is a member of the Greenville SC MWC Community. You can find more encouragement at her site at MarilynNutter.com

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Knowing there are women who have not only survived what I was going through, but were also thriving and moving forward in their lives.
— MSC Wister® (Widow + Sister)