I wrote this last year while trying to figure out what to do with my late husband’s things.
The Club of Loss has many different kinds of members and ways we have joined this illustrious group. We all have different ways of dealing with the loss and ways of coping with having the rug pulled out from under us.
But the one thing that connects us – not knowing what the $%#^ to do with their stuff.
Do I keep it?
Do I sell it?
Do I give it away?
Do I burn it?
Do I put it in a dark bag , shove it in a corner, and pretend it’s not there for a few months (ok, maybe 13 months. ahem) ?
What in the name of all things holy does he want me to do with it?
I thought I was a horrid person because I hadn’t decided what to do with a TON of Jim’s things a full year and a half after he died. Then I talked to a friend of mine whose husband had passed away 4 years ago. She basically started laughing at me when I told her how guilty I felt. She said I would know when the time was right to decide. And that it was fine, and to stop thinking I had to do exactly what he would have done.
I needed to get rid of the paralyzing feeling that makes me think that I need to honor him by obsessing over what he would want done with, oh I don’t know, a box of expired fake bait, for example. Or an entire collection of camouflage Gander Mountain hats.
Their stuff is all we have left, so it occasionally feels like we are losing them all over again if we get rid of it too soon.
So please, if you know someone who is having trouble getting rid of someone’s stuff, be kind. To them, it is an extension of their loss and all they have connecting them to their loved ones. The time will come when they are able to pass it along to others or sell it. The worst thing you can do is give them a timeline. It makes the hurt so much worse, and may make them keep it even longer.
I still don’t know what to do with some of his things, but after moving this past fall, I’ve come to the conclusion that you know when they belong with someone else. Your gut will tell you. Believe me. Let go of the stress – you will know when an object belongs with another person.
So a year later after writing this article, after re-homing so many of his things, I can tell you – if you are the one having trouble getting rid of stuff, be kind to yourself. It will be ok. It will be better, and it won’t hurt as much – or at all. You might actually start to enjoy it. Seriously.
Like many people, I have had so many crazy things happen in my life that I don’t know where I would be without these events. Whether it’s a world famous photo, moving constantly, traveling around the world, having a near death experience during a miscarriage, or losing my husband unexpectedly, I am at my best in chaos. Change is what I am good at!
I am here to show you that the best can come from the worst. Life is short. Do good things. Pursue your dreams. You won't regret it.