“Every time I turn around, something else has sprouted.”
Ah. The age-old question for us older gals who have accumulated too much over the years: Where did it all come from?
And where can I put it?
During Ice Storm ’98, I realized there is very little we actually need. We need oxygen, water, food, and shelter from the elements. Every species on Earth requires these things. (Yes, yes. I know there are “things” that can live in volcanoes, but you know what I mean.)
Do we actually need those four big salad bowls that probably still have our name taped on the bottom?
Do we need all of those exactly-the-same-size/purpose cooking pots that are now somewhere in the back of that bottom shelf/drawer? Possibly missing a handle or lid? When’s the last time we used them all at the same time? Ever?
How many sets of dishes do we need?
We are now living alone. No spouse. No kids. Twenty-four hours to ourselves but we never seem to have time to do anything other than what we always did. Here we are, doing the same things over and over as though life hadn’t changed in the last ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years…
Times have changed. We are old ladies now and we go to their place for special occasions. We don’t need all that extra stuff in our way, using up the time we have left.
It’s time to give all those extras to the children.
But perhaps our children are now beginning to downsize. They aren’t going to be wanting (needing) all those extra pots and pans and bowls and kitchen gadgets either. They most likely have doubles and triples of their own that they’re wanting to rehome.
It’s time to say farewell to that dear special bowl that holds only memories now instead of potential salad. Memories belong in our hearts, not on the back of a shelf.
If these things are of sentimental value (e.g., something that belonged to Great-Great Granny or Grampy), keep them in the family then. Were we not keeping them to hand down in the first place? It’s time.
Instead of keeping everything until we die, thus forcing our grieving children to go through every little thing in our home for days—perhaps even years—let’s give them to the kids now. Or to the grandchildren.
If we don’t have children or grandchildren, we can give them to our brother’s or sister’s kids/grandkids.
Let’s give them the story that goes along with these objects, thus wrapping these treasures in their own preciousness. Let’s hand over the responsibility of keeping the memories alive to them. Let’s tell ourselves it’s no longer our responsibility. Let’s convince ourselves.
It’s time to relieve ourselves of the worry and potential guilt that goes along with the assumed responsibility of keeping all the family treasures…
… in the back of the bottom shelf in that cupboard in the kitchen? In a box in the basement? What respect does it get there?
“But I don’t have time to sort through everything.”
What did you just say? You don’t have time?
We are going to dump this chore on our kids when we die?
While they are grieving us?
Even if it won’t be our own children, it will be someone’s child, whatever age. Someone’s child will have to go through every single thing we own and decide what to do with it.
It Ain’t Easy
When we lose someone, even a kitty, the experience gets filed away in our brains. I like to think of the brain as a big, huge, giant filing cabinet with oodles of drawers. The Grief Drawer is labeled as such.
As you might imagine, words spoken and sights and things seen can trigger memories. Grief’s memories. And any time we want to file something in a filing cabinet, we have to open the drawer it will be going into and finger our way through the As and Bs and Cs and Ds…
When we open the Grief Drawer, we see all those labels on all those separate files. “There’s Mom. There’s Dad. There’s my cousin. There’s my aunt. There’s that guy I liked when I was in Grade 4, killed in a car accident when he was barely nineteen years old. There’s my first dog. There’s that boss who was always so kind and patient with me. There’s Ruffles. There’s Fluffy. There’s the lady who sang contralto in the choir. There’s that nice old man I lived beside back when I was in high school. There’s Hubby. Oh, how I miss him!”
We have to hunt through all these individual folders to find out where best to put this latest “grief” of ours. This latest triggering.
Pretty much all of this is done subconsciously, of course. But whether subconsciously or consciously, we re-experience every single “file” in there. And we subconsciously refile them over and over each time we must open that particular drawer.
It will be the same when we go through all the extra bowls at the back of the bottom shelf. It won’t be easy. But it must be done.
Next post: How to Handle Letting Go of Our Stuff.
Until next time.