I’m the kind of person who likes to shed stuff regularly. I’ve never been a collector. I see value and magic in having less stuff and I feel best living amongst meaningful and useful things. I’m clutter averse and I try to encourage my family to be the same way.
I’m also part of a large and ever-growing group of people who has had to downsize for a parent who, over the years, didn’t pare down or separate the meaningful and useful things from the clutter.
Almost a year ago, my sisters and I processed and cleared everything from my Dad’s home (my mom died several years earlier). I wrote a bit about it here.
If you’ve ever gone through this experience you become acutely aware of what’s in store for your children in the future, and you feel a strong resolve to not heap upon them the same burden.
The time and energy spent sorting through a parent’s lifetime worth of stuff, coupled with the responsibility to honor the past, is exhausting and overwhelming. It takes a toll emotionally, physically and financially. It can require long plane flights, taking time off work without pay, and leaving family behind to cope in your absence. And if you and your siblings are not on the same page, it can cause tension and arguments.
I’ve read about cases where people pull up a dumpster and get rid of stuff that way. But that approach wasn’t for us. We worked hard to deal with Dad’s belongings thoughtfully and respectfully. We separated the meaningful stuff from the clutter. We doled out heirlooms diplomatically and found good homes for treasured items. We advertised and held a moving sale. What didn’t sell we donated to worthy causes. What was left went in the garbage. It took 5 weeks in total, working day and night. We did it gracefully without tension or arguments, which I’ve also read is rare.
So don’t wait. Clear your clutter and lighten your load now. If we spend the first 40 years of our lives accumulating and collecting, it seems to me we should spend the next 40 years letting go.
It’s nothing short of a gift of love.
Above: What we didn’t keep for ourselves, my sister framed with old frames found around the house and we added them to the items for sale. It feels right knowing Mom’s art will be hanging in so many homes.