Podcast: Play in new window | Download
I’ve been sharing about downsizing and helping older relatives declutter, and today I’m sharing some thoughts and our own processes from the final cleanout of my mother-in-law’s assisted living apartment after her passing.
I’m facing this situation soon, hopefully years away.
My grandmother died a year ago August and she had taken in boxes and shed loads and garage loads of stuff from the family farm which was sold and razed 20 years ago
It’s been my “personal ministry” to help my mom through her grief (although my grandmother was 89 and sliding into senility, it really blindsided my mom, who was her primary caretaker, and left fatherless at 12. Even though my mom is 66, she is definitely feeling like an orphan) Just now they are getting ready to sell the house and she still has boxes and boxes and boxes of things stored at my sister’s house I’ll be helping her sort through over the winter (a newborn is arriving in December, so looking forward to cozy times by the fire with shared memories 🙂
All that to say, the generational passing of sentimental junk will hopefully stop with me. I know all the philosophy and am aware of my problem, just don’t enact on it as I’d like. Appreciate your podcast!
Cara Kellmeyer says
I have been through this with my in-laws and parents.
My perspective is a bit farther out from this podcast.
Although I was told to put our names on all items, I didn’t do that and I should have. Someone started asking me for all sort of things and it took me by surprise.
Put your names on things or do as Dana suggests.
Because I had been decluttering mine and my families life, I was very aware of what my house could handle.
The problem I am dealing with now is dealing with the special things Mom saved like her Communion, confirmation and wedding gown. One dress is a mess and I should throw it out. And yet I cannot because it was so important to her, she kept it for 44- 65+ years.
I sorely want to toss hers and Dad’s year books. Besides my parents’ photo, they mean nothing to me. And I can’t seem to toss them.
And the other issue I am having now is that I know that I will never receive another thing from these important people. This is another hang-up. I know I will get through this eventually.
Because I do not have EVERYTHING they ever touched ( because we are past the houses clean out point) I only have some things. And now I am whittling down what is important to me and I am taking my time with the decision. This is counter-the-advice of many bloggers. I think Dana has a heart for us sentimental people.
Linda Marlene says
Cara, in reading your comment I have an idea about the yearbooks. Why not remove the pages where your parents are pictured and put them in a scrapbook or memory box, then toss the rest. I feel your pain as my parents are gone and I was the primary person who cleaned out the house. Thankfully, after my dad died, my mom purged a LOT making my job easier. Through the process, I kept counting my blessings that Mom had purged so much. To top it off, she was very clean and I did not come across any bugs or other icky things. This has inspired me to part with some of my things so my daughter doesn’t have such a monumental job when I pass, although she’ll have a big job going through her dad’s (my husband) things. He sees value in keeping everything. I just hope that I live long enough to get through all of my stuff!
I dread the day when my in-laws pass. They save everything, and they have lived in the same house for 58 years. Also, there are two large barns on the property as well as a shop and garden shed.