A warning to readers and viewers: The fourth episode of celebrated Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo is a tearjerker.
“Sparking Joy After a Loss” tells the story of Margie Hodges, a grieving window who wants to get organized so she can embark on the next chapter of her life.
Tidying to Heal
Margie Hodges has lived in her Culver City, California home for nearly 30 years. The space is filled with photographs, memories, and mementos from her family’s travels.
From my perspective, the home is warm and lovely. Margie and her late husband Rick spent decades together in the house. Their three children, now adults, grew up there. Every item has meaning, it seems.
But now Margie lives alone—and she’s ready to release the items that no longer serve her.
“There’s a lot of life in this house, and I don’t want to just dump it,” she says, her voice breaking. “I want to be thoughtful about it.”
Margie intends to honor her husband’s memory, yet she knows she needs to put the dark times behind her before she can move forward. Though she worries she won’t have the strength to sort through Rick’s things, she hopes that—with help from tidying expert and renowned author Marie Kondo—she can get organized in a meaningful way.
A KonMari Compromise
Something I really appreciated during this episode was Marie’s flexibility. She is empathetic throughout, cognizant of Margie’s loss, and accepting of her client’s needs.
In fact, she’s so accepting that she adjusts her tidying process to help Margie heal.
Let me explain. It’s clear from the beginning that Margie wants to organize her husband’s things as soon as possible. Marie, however, suggests that Margie start with her own belongings and tackle sentimental items, like Rick’s clothing, later in the process.
Tidying her own garments comes easily. “I’ve been through some serious battles lately, so making decisions about clothes is quite a bit easier than I thought,” Margie admits.
Little does she know tidying won’t always be so simple. When Marie returns to Margie’s home the second time, she suggests they move on to books. The expert organizer is an advocate of making easy decisions first and saving sentimental items until the very end.
But Margie is wrestling with the thought that she still hasn’t finished tidying upstairs. “I was sort of prepared to pull all of Rick’s things out,” she confesses.
So Marie agrees to adjust her rules. She acknowledges that this is a very special case and honors Margie’s wish to organize her husband’s items alone.
This, in my opinion, is an important life lesson. We must be willing to make compromises from time to time, even if that means deviating from a proven process. We have to be gentle with ourselves—and with others too. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to tidying.
Focusing on What We Want to Keep
In this episode, Marie says something I found pretty groundbreaking. I think anyone looking to tidy their home should consider this perspective.
What she suggests is that instead of focusing on what to get rid of, we should focus on what we want to keep. This brings clarity to the tidying process, and it can help us organize the things we aren’t sure we want that we might need again in the future.
This, in my view, causes a shift in Margie. While going through the pantry, instead of keeping all the spices her late husband loved for the sake of keeping them, she makes decisions based on the type of cooking she’d like to do moving forward. This is a real game-changer for Margie, who now feels much less guilty parting with sentimental items.
The verdict? Tidying can be restorative under a full range of circumstances. The KonMari Method helps Margie so much that she creates her own hashtag, #KonMargie, to honor the process and move forward in her life.