For family and friends, us, it may look like “stuff”. To our loved one who is downsizing, de-cluttering, getting ready for the end of their life, or cleaning up after their loved ones has died it is way more than “stuff”!
We are intent on helping our loved one lighten the load and for us on the outside of the “stuff” –
We wonder why they are resisting our help.
We wonder why they labor over what we think are easy choices.
We wonder why they don’t want to let the silliest things go.
We wonder why they get so emotional or the oddest of memorabilia.
We wonder why.
Well for our loved one who lives inside the “stuff” it is a very different experience. The older our loved one, the longer their relationship with their stuff, the more challenging the letting go becomes, especially if the de-cluttering flows the loss of their life partner.
The photographs, the books, the artwork, the clothes, the furniture, the jewelry, the car, the tools – everything is imbued with the energy of their life. The emotional energy in particular fills the stuff with meaning. Their stuff (and my stuff too) is their life expressed through what they have collected – in a way it is their life’s legacy.
Their stuff IS their life’s legacy! Yes indeed it is.
Well, no wonder in some cases it takes time to go through a household of “stuff” and why it can be really hard to let go of things. They all have special meaning to the one de-cluttering. A friend of mine went through this very issue with his Mom recently. He went home to help Mom de-clutter and let go of things and was task oriented as good men can be. Well his task driven-ness was meet with Mom’s wanting to make sure that she wouldn’t need it, miss it or be sad she let it go. There was frustration on both sides.
To avoid this type of clash here are a few hints.
Start well before the moving date, as much as six to twelve months.
Do a little bit at a time.
Create several ‘piles’ – throw away, donate, give away as gifts, keep, and not sure.
Handle the throw away, donate piles immediately as it removes the ‘stuff’ from sight and gives the feeling of making progress.
Find ways to make it a fun time and a time of memories.
Using a few of these suggestions will help relax the tension and tendency to rush and make hurried decisions that will slow progress down over time. Make it a fun and relaxing time for your loved one, a time for one and all to remember in emotional importance of the items we sometimes see as simply just “stuff”.
Warmly and with gratitude