How grief taught me to keep my life simple

When my nine-year-old niece died last August, I was devastated. For two years, our lives revolved around her. So when she died, something in us died as well – our hopes, our dreams, including our  drive, motivation and inspiration.

Incidentally, my job contract expired a week before she died so I was given a chance to cope with her death. They say the best way to cope with grief is to actually grieve. So we went to places, ate, cried again, and watched movies just to keep ourselves busy and from missing her.

I intentionally didn’t apply for a new job that time because apart from the fact that I was still grieving, I wanted to take a break from work. I’ve been working non-stop for close to 15 years and our past two years were devoted to Rianna’s hospitalization and rehabilitation, so we were physically, mentally, and financially exhausted and drained.

So I grabbed the opportunity to just stay at home and rest. But as months of no-work went by, I started getting bored so I decided to do something productive – as in really productive and meaningful.

Photo by Jane Love

HOUSE CLEANING. My sisters and I started cleaning our house while I also supervised all the roof and gate repairs and repainting that were put on hold due to Rianna’s hospitalization expenses.

They say a clean house is a lucky house. Cleaning your house invites good vibes, positivity, and blessings in the family. So I thought that was just the best time to do it. It’s time we throw or give away all the garbage, unnecessary stuffs, and negativity away that were only collecting dust and dirt.

I also vacuumed our sofa set, but forgot to wear a mask that time so that night and days that followed, I suffered severe colds and coughs due to excessive dirt and dust. I also had a hard time sleeping and breathing at night I thought I was going to die. Imagine having to clean the entire house after almost two years and dispose all years of collected stuffs, what do you expect?

Gladly, I was able to recover from coughs and colds and continued cleaning again and look at our house in a different light.

DISPOSE OLD CLOTHES, BOOKS, AND STUFFS. Next thing, I sorted clothes, books, and old stuffs for disposal (My sisters did the disposal by the way). Earlier, we put up Jewelle’s Shop, named after Rianna Jewelle, and sold second-hand clothes, shoes, sandals, books, and bags online to help support Rianna’s hospitalization and maintenance.  (I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who supported our shop before). But not everything was sold so all those left behinds were given away.

It’s hard to give away my precious stuffs, especially those books that made me laugh and cry, discover different places, meet new characters, and believe that love is still possible. Giving them away is like giving away a piece of my heart. But I had to. Mother Teresa once said, “This is the meaning of true love, to give until it hurts.”

PACK LIGHT. When I got a job offer in December, I felt it was time to work again after a four-month hiatus. So I started my new job in January, but was immediately sent on an out-of-town weekend trip.

I was never a light packer. I always struggle the night before my trip on what to pack and how they will fit my bag because I wanted to bring so many extra clothes (just in case it got wet or the weather was hot). But after our first trip, I discovered my companions were not fond of checking-in their luggage and since I hated being the cause of delay or people waiting for me, I had no choice but to carry my bag as carry-on, and learned my lesson well that time.

During our succeeding trips, I learned to pack lesser clothing and stuffs. And during my most recent trip with friends, I have managed to bring just one back-pack. Imagine! What an achievement! Apart from having a lighter bag, I got to bring only the essentials and went anywhere with my bag.  Keeping it light and simple also meant there’s less to lose.

KEEP FEWER (BUT REAL) FRIENDS. After what my family and I had been through (this I have got to admit), I distanced myself from my other “friends” and kept in touch with only those friends who were there with me through good times, especially during the darkest days of my life. I realized three important things:

“Friendship isn’t about how many friends you have. It’s about the few real ones you have and get to keep ‘till the end.”

“As people grow up, they realize that it becomes less important to have friends and more important to have real ones.”

“If you have a family that loves you, a few good friends, food on your table, and a roof over your head, you are richer than you think.”

More importantly, I learned to live a simple life, live life to the fullest, let go of material things and focus on relationships, value my family and friends, make every moment count, count my blessings, and have faith in God no matter what.


This is a monthly blog collaboration and our theme for this month is Minimalism. For more stories, check out these amazing and truly inspiring writers/bloggers who participated in this collaboration. Happy reading and hope we inspired you:

Ipuna Black: What Gives You Meaning in Life?

Barb Caffrey: Why Minimalism is the First Step Toward Non-Materialism – A Collaboration with a Purpose post

Gelyka Ruth Dumaraos: Being More With Less: Embracing A Simple Life By Being Zero-Waste

Sonyo Estavillo: Minimalism for Success: Why Little Wins Count!

Nicolle K: Minimalism: Three Ways I’m Applying Minimalism as a Highly Sensitive Introvert

Jane Love: Mind Minimalism: Life Doesn’t Get Better With Worry

Sadaf Siddiqi: Value of Minimalism

Published by Mylene Orillo

Mylene Orillo is a contributing writer at My Pope Philippines. Prior to that, she contributed to the Health & Lifestyle magazine.  She's a former correspondent at The Manila Times; former editor-in-chief of TravelPlus magazine; and former assistant editor of Health & Lifestyle, Zen Health, and DiabetEASE magazines by FAME Publishing, Inc., a company owned by cardiologist Dr. Rafael Castillo who has given her the much-needed break and opportunity in the health industry and medical field.  Her previous job as a Media Consultant at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and Writer-Researcher at the Headquarters Philippine Army ignited her passions for charity, volunteering, selfless service, and love of country. As a young girl, she loved reading her mom's collection of Mills & Boons pocketbooks, which started her passion to write romance stories.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Sto. Tomas in España, Manila. She is now working towards earning her master's degree hopefully this year. She loves traveling, long-distance running, reading romance and non-fiction books, watching Korean Drama series, feel-good rom coms, military movies, and documentaries during her spare time. Someday, she wants to meet Prince William and Pope Francis, settle down with the love of her life and have a family and kids of her own; and become a bestselling romance author.

15 thoughts on “How grief taught me to keep my life simple

  1. You covered so many different topics well! You have gone through a lot over the last two years. It was probably tough cleaning your house out. 😕 I realized how little I need and that not many things are important when Jy was in the hospital.

    I wish you the best with your current job. Your family deserves all the blessings.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you Ipuna, you’ve always been supportive of our family. Yes, it was tough cleaning the whole house. But I’m glad we did it. Finally disposed some of them, but still a lot left to dispose.

      I wish you the best also, especially with Jy. May God bless you and your family always.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Mylene, I think you and your family turned your grief into positivity in the best possible way. (I wish I’d had been able to do something similar after my husband passed away.) And yes, giving until it hurts and keeping only the truly meaningful is a better way to live, but it is hard to do.

    I agree with you also about your friends, and how sometimes people call themselves your friend but truly aren’t and don’t stick with you when times are hard. Those who do, though, are worth their weight in gold.

    Thanks for writing this post. I learned a lot from it.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m glad you liked my post, Barb. Well, don’t force yourself to do everything in an instant. Do it section by section. I am now reading a book, Spark Joy by Marie Kondo where she said give up those things that doesn’t bring you joy. I haven’t finished it but it’s helpful when you are starting to dispose or get rid of stuffs. Try reading it.

      Thank you for the nice words, Barb. I truly appreciate it. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I understand grief, though I don’t always write about very personal experiences on my own blog. I commend bloggers like you who can find the courage to write about personal heart breaks. I think you made the right decision to take a break from work, clean out your house, and symbolically re-organize yourself internally to match your external abode.

    I also totally get minimizing friendship. I think you need to stick to those that can offer the type of moral and spiritual support that doesn’t overcomplicate your life.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. A very modest and nice post. These quotes are a few from my all time favourite quotes:

    “Friendship isn’t about how many friends you have. It’s about the few real ones you have and get to keep ‘till the end.”

    “As people grow up, they realize that it becomes less important to have friends and more important to have real ones.”

    “If you have a family that loves you, a few good friends, food on your table, and a roof over your head, you are richer than you think.”

    Mylene, you and your family have been through alot of hardship for the past few years, but nevertheless, you’ll coped it all so well. Best wishes to you and your family.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Great post, it’s really incredible how you took care of yourself while grieving. 🙂 I also agree “Friendship isn’t about how many friends you have. It’s about the few real ones you have and get to keep ‘till the end.” (That’s my favourite quote here. 😀)

    Also, sorry for being super late with reading this! Let’s just say I got caught up with stuff. Very sorry. 😅

    Liked by 2 people

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