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What to do with all this stuff?

What do I do with my Mother’s things? Her clothes. Her furniture. Jewelry, nicknacks, etc. Years ago when my Mother moved from her three-bedroom apartment to an efficiency, all of her furniture and most of her kitchen supplies moved to my house. She took things back when she moved from the efficiency to a one bedroom. And then when she moved in with us, everything came with her.

In my mind, I know her things are not her, but in my heart, it’s a different story. When I look at her couch, I remember the fifty furniture stores we perused and how excited she was when we finally found it. She picked the fabric and had it made to order.

Same with her Queen Anne recliner. She couldn’t have a “regular” recliner. Nope, it had to be fancy. Like her. I can still see her sitting on both of them. I was brought up with the belief you dispose of something when it’s broken, which only adds to my hesitation on getting rid of things.

Mom’s clothes were beautiful. Her dancing clothes are on garment racks and zippered bags in my basement. My plan is to donate them to a theater or dance company so they will forever be under lights. The clothes that are in her dresser still smell like her and if I had my way, I would seal it with plastic wrap and keep it forever. Of course, I know that’s not how this goes. And what about the little things that aren’t so little? Her slippers. Her glasses.

I’ve asked friends what they have done and the overwhelming response has run the gamut - sort through everything when you feel you can. Only keep the things you will use. Don’t keep everything. Don’t get rid of everything. Make pillows or a blanket out of her clothes. Some people got rid of things the first week after their loved one died. Others still have everything.

Professionals recommend getting rid of these things helps you move forward in your grief. Some even warn keeping items leaves you mired in your grief. The funny thing is I can hear my mother in my mind saying, “get rid of it!” recommends making piles.

  • Save for me

  • Save for others

  • Sell

  • Donate

  • Throw away

And one more - The Not Sure Box with a ten item limit. Once you hit ten items, you need to revisit and decide what to get rid of. I like that idea.

Working at your own pace was the most important advice. Take breaks when you need to, but keep moving forward. And that’s the underlying thought. Forward motion. I know I don’t need any of her things to remember her. She’s with me.


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