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Because there’s so much unsolicited advice and opinion floating around the grief world, it’s easy to lose track of what you actually want for yourself. Many people write to me wondering when is the “right time” to remove their wedding rings, or convert their child’s bedroom into a guest room, or stop referring to their brother in the present tense.

The answer is simple; there is no right time.

You can’t wait for the time to feel right, because it like never will. None of this is something you would ever choose. When you’re trying to make a decision, you can’t wait until it feels good.

I like the vomit metric for making decisions. If taking off your wedding rings make you feel sick, it’s not the right time to take them off. If you start to panic at the thought of moving anything in your child’s room, then don’t move anything. If someone has told you it’s time to donate your sister’s clothes and you break out in hives, immortalize her closet.

You don’t have to change anything until you’re ready. There are weird family politics to contend with at times for sure, but for the most part, what you do with things in your home or on your body is up to you. When you make larger life decisions—like when (or whether) to date, sell your house, or change careers—is entirely up to you. No time is the right time. Nothing is too early or too late.

Along these same lines, it’s perfectly normal to leave things exactly as your person left them. Evidence that they were here, that they lived, that they were part of you is important. When your life has evaporated, those touchstones become the whole world.

A friend whose husband drowned the year after Matt died told me she kept a bottle of his hot sauce with her through two different moves. She couldn’t bear to see the refrigerator without it, even though she would never open the bottle again. I kept the container of ice cream Matt and I bought two nights before he died right up until I moved across the country–four years later.

It was nearly a year before I changed the sheets on the bed where we last slept.

You will do what you need to do when you need to do it. Not a moment before. It will never feel good. But if it makes you feel sick, now is not the time. Use the vomit metric for any decisions you have to make and for the one you feel like you’re supposed to make.

pp.75-76. Excerpt reprinted from" It's OK that You're Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture that doesn't Understand" by Megan Devine. Published by Sounds True, 2017.

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