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. I feel my best living amongst meaningful and useful things. I'm clutter averse.
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.
I was lucky I could share the responsibility with my other siblings. It made the job less overwhelming and easier to execute with some amount of grace. But it still takes a toll, emotionally, physically and financially.
It can require long plane flights, taking time off work without pay and leaving behind a family to cope in your absence.
If you and your siblings are not on the same page there can be tension and arguments.
All that plus the actual physical labour involved. Not to mention people are often tackling this responsibility in the midst of grieving. It's a lot!
I've read about cases where people pull up a dumpster and get rid of stuff that way. But that wasn't for us. We worked hard to deal with Dad's belongings respectfully and thoughtfully.
We separated the meaningful stuff from the clutter. We doled out heirlooms diplomatically and sensitively, and found good homes for other 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. And we managed to do it gracefully, without tension or arguments.
If you've ever gone through this experience you become acutely aware of something: this is what's in store for your children or next of kin. You feel a strong resolve to not heap upon them a similar burden.
We shouldn't wait. We should clear our clutter and lighten our 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.