HELP, I don’t want my parents stuff!
It can be an emotionally exhausting taking the time to downsize and purge a a lifetime of stuff. The process can trigger all kinds of family “issues”. How do you decide what to keep when it comes time to downsize and purge years worth of household items?
The recently published book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is onto something when it comes to taking the time to downsize. It’s become quite a popular book, partially because it’s such a darkly humerous title but mainly because there is a large generation of people in the process of downsizing right now and mostly, their kids and grand kids don’t wan their stuff! So, whether the time to downsize comes when the family is all still alive or after a death, it’s really never too early to start talking about this subject. I hate to even bring it up but the fact is that we will all die. All of the “things” associated with YOU and what you are passionate about in your life are a part of your legacy! Lets talk a minute about our personal and family legacies.
We can’t take our stuff with us…what we leave behind is part of our legacy.
Have you ever thought about what your legacy is? What have you enjoyed or done throughout your life that others might value or remember about you?
Did you write in a journal, keep scrapbooks or take photo’s?
Do you collect something special to you (I personally collect things with a “Bee theme” but try not to over do it)?
Do you make something (quilts, knit or crochet)?
Do you Garden or Cook and keep records of these hobbies?
Were you recognized for significant accomplishments in your career?
Did you invent something?
Were you an avid reader?
You might want to ask yourself and your family members some of these questions before it comes time to decide what to keep or get rid of. It may not be an easy conversation, but not talking about it could cause more pain, try to keep it lighthearted and fun.
Talk with your parents, grandparents or other family members about what they were passionate about in their life.
Record your family stories to share with future generations and keep a handful of meaningful items that help you remember and honor their legacy.
These conversations will help with future decision making. Let your family know if you are or are or are not interested in what they leave behind (have a plan if you can!). We all want our loved ones to remember us and for some people having things around that remind us of them is a wonderful tribute. There will also be family and friends who will choose to honor and remember their loved ones without stuff! Maybe they have vivid or photographic memories of events and feel linked to that person through other means (spiritual, oral or written history). Guilt is the enemy, our stuff should by no means be a tool to make someone feel guilty…If your loved one’s don’t want your things, don’t feel hurt!
If there are things you want someone to have, tell them about it and tell them why. Just telling your story (via a letter, video, voice recording or conversation) may be enough! Be ready to release your attachment to the outcome, whether things are wanted or not. Ask them if they want things, but let them know they should not feel bad if they don’t want to keep it. You may also want to find a group or organization who you know would love a donation and leave part of your estate in your will.
When it comes time to downsize and purge your family will not want everything, it’s not a reflection how they feel about you! There are so many people who are really in need or love collecting, if your family isn’t that someone it’s okay. Here’s little advice from the Marie Kondo book, ‘Spark Joy‘ say goodbye to your things and thank them for the joy they gave you…then let go and be at peace with the decision. This can be a helpful practice for family members to be able to release things from their loved ones!
Say goodbye with gratitude on behalf the joy that “stuff” brought to your family member.