How long does your smell stay in your clothes?

I thought I was ready. Then I quickly found a lump forming in my throat. Walked to the garage and cried.

Returned to our closet, the closet I had spent many moments on the ground bawling holding his clothes in my tightly gripped hands. I stood there staring at the wardrobe that clothed him. Of course, going through it there were pieces that stirred up memories.

This was worn when he coached third base and Z did a delayed steal (on her own) from second and he turned quickly yelling ‘GET DOWN’… as he is squatted at the waist with his hands practically on the ground. Shaking his head, she shared a huge smile, as she was called safe, and he tapped the top of her helmet with pride.

This sweatshirt fills many photos… it is the one that was worn on that day he won the State High School Softball Championship.

The Nike 1/4 zip was worn to chemo the day our local news sports broadcaster came to the treatment to record footage for a story he did on Doug’s fight.

Oh, this one was worn a lot but I specifically remember the camping trip when he was teaching Demi to shoot pop cans with the BB gun.


Here is the Nike t-shirt that was worn in one of the last pictures of him full of joy. It was Bentli’s High School graduation party in our backyard.

As I started pulling his things one shirt at a time, folding them nicely, and placing it in a bin, it was the aroma that tickled my nose and drew me to smother my face with it. Oh, my word… it was as if he was standing next to me in my closet.

My eyes started leaking and at one point I collapsed onto the floor of the closet sobbing. In my head, I kept saying he was not coming home. He’s not coming home. I finally screamed into the sweatshirt I was grasping onto…

Did I honestly think he was?

I believe it is this trauma that happens in our heads when grief hits this hard. My heart knew he wasn’t coming home, my conscious mind knew he wasn’t coming home. But trauma can cause a pause in our brain, and I believe that is where I held onto the idea he would come home.

The trauma grief causes each of us is really a spectacular event. The effect it can have on some won’t happen to others. Or the disturbance it may cause one, but it doesn’t on another. Trauma really is individualized by each soul and each traumatic event.

There are a couple of items that I cannot take out. They will hang there in my closet forever I am pretty sure.

Grief enters our life most of the time without an invitation, unpacks, and can try to ruin what happiness we still have.

May you never have to see how long the smell stays in the clothes of a loved one. And if you are faced with it or facing it now, I give you permission to have that time be whatever YOU decide.

So, to answer the question of how long your smell stays in your clothes…

in my case 6 1/2 years, it has stayed in certain items. This is how long it has taken me to finally be able to remove his clothes from our closet.

Some quickly remove loved ones’ belongings from the house while others keep them in place for years or decades. And whichever you may be IS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT for your journey.

I am grateful I didn’t quickly remove Doug’s things. I needed them there for my healing. I for my own grief journey needed to see them hanging when I opened my closet.

It must be your timing or when your heart and head can handle it.

I had a Pastor recently speak the words…
God cannot fix what you refuse to face.

Wait say it louder for those in the back!


Maybe more healing will come now that I have faced the closet.

James 1:12
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Love and Blessings


Jacki Corta is a motivational speaker, intuitive life, and grief coach along with the founder and CEO of Strength > Struggle™. The brand she discovered after traveling the journey of cancer with her husband. She started the Strength>Struggle™ crusade, helping others find their inner strength during some of the scariest times. In 2014, her husband, Douglas was diagnosed with Glioblastoma brain cancer and 20 months later passed away, giving Jacki a new title… Widow. It is Jacki’s mission to share her story with the world and how it can positively impact others in whatever they may face. It is a story of unexplainable strength in life’s most challenging storms, overcoming adversity and finding hope while traveling the difficult path her life took.

It is her ability to communicate and willingness to be vulnerable that connects with her clients and audiences. Jacki believes her purpose here is to impact as many souls as possible showing them that through even the darkest days there is a glimpse of light to grab onto for them to find their strength. Jacki will empower, challenge, and give you a new outlook on your own story.

She is a mother of three adult girls and a Mimi to two beautiful granddaughters. You can follow more of her story and inspiration on Instagram @jackicorta or listen to her podcast Jacki Has a Voice on Spotify.