My Husband's Things
Sorting through and parting with your loved one’s personal items after their death is possibly one of the hardest tasks to do…ever.
Nothing really prepares you for the emotional challenge of deciding what to keep and what not to.
Sometimes, it can take years before whittling down the mountains of notes, photos, and keepsakes that you might desperately cling to in order to feel the presence of your spouse, child, or parent. Sometimes, in a whir of the moment, you toss things out and regret that you did so years later. Sometimes you only have a weekend to do it.
So how do you find the balance between holding on to “too much” vs. “too little”?
Joan grapples with the reality of what to do about her deceased husband’s voice that greets callers on their home answering machine. She wonders about what to do about the automatic computer tasks set up by her husband which are a daily reminder to her about specific chores to be done. And she is confronted with the decisions as what to do with the mountains of her husbands clothes and personal belongings.
Everyone has differing opinions and reactions as to how to deal with the “things” that belonged to their loved one. How to handle the clean up of and distribution of personal items is often a topic that creates tension and disagreement amongst various family members.
Sifting through the desk and bureau drawers of your beloved is very, very difficult and emotionally challenging. Sometimes, decisions need to be made based upon need vs. want….but emotions always get in the way.
Even the longest lasting memory can be jarred awake by the prominent smell from sniffing a piece of clothing, a favorite type of cologne, or even toiletries. I have some of my mother’s favorite perfumed body lotion. One sniff or squirt immediately floods my senses with both happy and sad thoughts. I will never, ever, empty that plastic container.
Some things are easy to toss. Those are the items that clearly are of little use to anyone. Other things are not easy to part with and sometimes hard choices need to be made.
Clothing of the deceased presents an interesting dilemma.
Creating three distinct piles is a good idea. First, if you can, allow family members to choose items for keepsakes. Then make one pile to be donated to a resale shop or a local charity that distributes clothing that is work oriented or dressy in nature. Another pile, or two, for trips to Goodwill Industries or to the local Salvation Army, and one pile is for trash.
There are items that you will not want to donate, no matter what you think of the condition. After all, one can always use an extra pair of jeans…especially those belonging to your loved one.