The Year of Living Minimally – Week Eleven

The focus shifted, rightfully, away from us this week. We honored my husband’s father (above) with the military funeral he deserved, and I know that he’s now at peace, after years of living with a cruel disease.

Apart from the viewing, the Mass, and the burial, there was work to do at his house. And that work continues. He clung to his independence, living alone in the same house he’d lived in since 1972. There were memories in that house. And lots of stuff.

Look, it happens. It would have upset him more if we’d started cleaning out the excess while he was still alive. So we have our work cut out for us. Clothes, shoes, blankets, linens. Books, DVDs, CDs. Food. Furniture. And so many photos. Donate, keep, or discard. I’m mindful that there’s a lot of emotion right now, so if my husband insists on carting a few things back into our house, I’m keeping my mouth shut. ❤️

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9 Comments

Judy Weaver Gonyeau October 1, 2017 at 10:49 am

Martha –
Having been through this a couple of times, and working in the Antiques/Collectibles business, I cannot stress enough to take your time. (forgive me for writing like it’s an article – can’t help it!) Unless everything Must be gone Right Away, please breathe first. Grief is a tough group of emotions to avoid, but many times it is done by almost “erasing” the person who passed by removing their stuff. For grandparents, it’s the grandchildren who will want remembrances – but for so many, it is one of their first major losses and when they say, “I don’t want anything,” is their way of avoiding the pain. They are not ready, and when they are ready to remember and feel that love and happiness of life, that “stuff” is gone. Some spend their time trying to reclaim many of the items for their home, and they are often in the Brimfields and Antique shows and shops just itching to feel it in their hands again. For those whose children are those grandchildren, be extra thoughtful, taking a second look at that pin or child-sized table, or that everyday item kept on the grandparent’s highest shelf in the kitchen or at a bedside. And on the flip side, keeping each and every thing is no help — those giant balls of aluminum foil or bags holding bags holding bags or bags of clothes (except vintage) can go. For those of us faced with a parent’s death sans grandchildren (like us), it can be as if we are facing that certain something that has been dreaded for a long time, but it can be taken on almost like a rite of passage – another check on the list. Avoid that pain of mourning by clearing everything out and start another major phase of our lives with a clean slate. Then grief sneaks up and yes, we really do have to face it. But it is a time to be smart about stuff. Be smart and bring in someone who can help get through the stuff in a thoughtful way. There are things of value you may not know about, and haste can make waste as in “what a waste.” Don’t be afraid to sell some things of monetary value but not in your taste range. Put some of the money aside for later, and use what you need to now to take care of expenses you would really like to erase today. Let your late father-in-law take you out to dinner on your anniversary (or buy a burger on your way home from a long day of work), or back to Maine for that vacation you still need, or get you the new air conditioner when one kicks it on the hottest day of the year. It may sound weird, but it won’t hurt to celebrate a life well lived by living one yourself. You can take the money and pay it forward over time. Buy the guy behind you’s coffee. If you have a nice chunk of change, go to the church and designate it to a family in need anonymously. You have a new angel with you now so why not let him help you practice using your wings, too, as you learn about life at this new point in time – in life. You will get tons and tons of advice based upon other life experiences. Take what you need, and leave the rest, as they say. And no regrets. What happens, happens, so be true to You.

As you say, that’s just the way it is and it’s the right thing. I just toured Arlington Cemetery. What a wonderful way to honor and cherish our forebears.

Ahh. 45 years in the same house will indeed create quite a bit of work for you. Hugs.

So… yeah. This is so rough. My mother, too, has COPD, and a house and garage full of stuff. She’s not a hoarder, but she has six kids, umpteen grandchildren, and all of the mementos from a life well-lived and bestowed upon a person well-loved. It is a shame that when you’re grieving someone and should be focused on matters of the heart, you’re bombarded by the material. Sad, but unavoidable. Thinking of you and Jim so much and praying for comfort.

I am sorry all you are going thru, hugs. This does remind us to try to be more mindful of our own stuff. ❤️

All of my boys will be here next week and I will again ask them what they want. So far the only one to want anything asked for my 1910/11 Encyclopedia Britannica with the parchment maps. And what about all the other ‘stuff’????
Sorry for your loss. I do not want to leave a huge clean-up when I am gone, but alas….

    Thanks, Denise. I think many older people (I’m thinking 70s) think there’s time, or they don’t consider they may get sick. My mother had dementia, my father-in-law had COPD. Both diseases kept them from being able to maintain their respective homes. I don’t want that!

Having been there a couple of times, I know what you’re going through. It can be very exhausting. (When the hubs’ mom died, the two of us and his brother went through all of her stuff over several days while my sister-in-law had to keep going to work. She kept her mouth shut while my brother-in-law carted home carload after carload full of stuff to add to their basement. Well… she kept her mouth shut with him. With me, she asked me to please try to keep him from bringing home so much stuff! He was keeping everything! Luckily I didn’t have that issue with the hubs. Since we were living across the continent, we could only bring a few precious items home in our luggage. But I don’t think it would have mattered anyway – the hubs only wanted those few things to remember his mom by. Makes me wonder what will happen with OUR stuff since we have no kids to sort through it. After my mom died, I weeded out a lot of our own stuff!) Sorry again for your loss. Didn’t mean to write a novella…. 🙂

    Hi Jackie – Thanks for this. We don’t have kids, either, and my “Year of Living Minimally ” has been a way for us to pare down to the essentials, with the idea that if we can do that now, it’ll be easier in the future…..
    Thinking of Mike today! 💚💚💚

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