July 17, 2011

Overwhelmed by a Legacy of Stuff

What to do with all the stuff left behind when a beloved dies?

Rita Emmett lays it out in A Legacy of Stuff

Another email explained the cost of two storage units filled with items from loved ones who have passed away. Payments for both units totaled over one thousand dollars a year, and he wrote that he had not visited them since he stashed everything into the units over four years ago.

So he is spending money he can't afford on units filled with stuff he not only does NOT need, he doesn't even remember what is in them.

He's stuck.

Sorting through, processing, moving on and getting rid of items after the death of a loved one is possibly the most difficult work to tackle. Partly because there is SO MUCH (a lifetime of accumulation), partly because it renews the deep grief in our hearts and partly because there is an odd feeling of "I'm keeping this because I love him so if I get rid of these tools that he loved so much….it might mean I don't love him ….or that he didn't love me…..or something very convoluted and confusing…."

Part 2 here

One woman told the story of how for seven years, all of her parents' belongings were stacked to the ceiling in her basement - furniture, clothes, stuff. So much so that they could not even make a path through it all.

Then her basement flooded and she lost everything. Afterwards, she was amazed at how relieved she felt and how good life was — living without all that stuff. She had zero regrets about what was lost.

And she asked, "Why do people have to wait for a disaster to wreck everything in order to get rid of it? Wouldn't it have been great to pass on those things to people who needed and would be happy to receive all of it?"

In fact, when we hang on to stuff we-don't-need-or-use and wasn't even ours to begin with, it usually as NOTHING to do with the thing itself, but with the tumult of feelings associated with it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at July 17, 2011 9:25 AM | Permalink