I know we have been over this topic more than once but it bears repeating over and over.
Here at 365 Less Things readers often share their stories of sad situations where their family have had a mammoth task of clearing out the home of a deceased loved one. At such a trying time it is hard to have to make rational decisions about what to do with all that stuff, especially if it is a case of a really cluttered household.
It is natures course that when one life ends others must go on and often these other lives are busy and complicated enough already. Trying to find the time necessary to invest in doing this kind of declutter thoroughly, taking into account all family members needs, has many challenges. Challenges that no doubt never occurred to the person leaving it behind.
My advice for the future is ~ Don’t be that person. Keep your clutter to a minimum now so you don’t leave anyone in this position. And/or have that talk with ageing loved ones and encourage and/or assist them to purge what isn’t necessary and important to them now before it is too late. Remember it is never too early to deal with this issue, one doesn’t have to be old for live to come to an end.
Here is an email from Amy who found herself in this position.
As someone who recently had to clean out a person’s house after a death, I definitely agree that we shouldn’t be leaving this paper clutter for someone else to deal with later. After all, if you don’t do it, someone else has to. Why burden your loved ones with this?
I now look at everything in my house that could be considered “clutter” and ask myself if I want to leave this for my children to deal with after I’m gone? Do I really want them to go through things and ask themselves why on earth I saved “such and such?” From the leftover watercolor paints and the scrapbooking stuff I haven’t used, to the pile of recipes I thought I’d make, to the extra odds and ends that were purchased and never used – why burden someone else with this? If we don’t find time to do this, why are we assuming someone else will have the time to deal with stuff we should’ve dealt with?
Deb J also had this example to share ~ My aunt has barrels of “keepsakes” from my grandparents that have never been out of the barrels in the 40+ years they have lived in their present house. She says she will give them to the kids in her will. Well, why not give them to them now–they are all adults with families. Actually, I doubt they will want them anyway. Do they even remember them?
Katharine had this to say ~ I was able to have a much needed conversation with my mother-in-law last week as they have a lot of clutter, to gently suggest they need to deal with it sooner rather than later because it will overwhelm my husband when they are gone: combine his grief and his horder tendencies plus his parents in rented accommodation I can foresee a storage unit situation coming on. They have started trying to deal with it, I just wanted to encourage them they were doing the right thing. She seemed to take it on board…I just hope they are able to do a lot over the next year. 1/2 of it is from her parents that they never dealt with…
Here is a link to a comment from Annabelle which is also an eye opener.
These are just a few of many similar stories received from my 365 Less Things readers over the last 18 months. So the question is ~ What are you leaving to your family members when you pass. A lifetime of fond memories or a lifetime of fond memories and a house full of clutter that you didn’t want to deal with.
Today’s Declutter Item
My declutter items today are some hand-me-down milkshake glasses from my grandparent’s bakery circa 1935ish. They are, in fact, extremely relevant to today’s topic. My grandfather could have sold his bakery when he chose to retire but he would not relinquish the “famous” sponge cake recipe. Being as this recipe was key to the popularity of this bakery nobody would buy the business without it. So my granddad stubbornly packed up all the equipment and stored it in his back shed. It was still there when my grandmother died many many years later. He left it for her to deal with and in turn she left it for my parents to deal with. I did have eight of these glasses but donated 4 earlier in my declutter mission. In the process of Freecycling some other items this week is met a lady who had a 50s diner set up in her garage. It turned out her husband was related to me on my grandmother’s side of the family. So if offered her these glasses even though I had no intension of decluttering them right now. I figured she would get far more enjoyment out of them and in a roundabout fashion they were staying in the family.
Something I Am Grateful For Today
I have got to the stage where I could move things on the floor of my garage up onto the empty space decluttering has created on the shelving unit. I had a fun time organising and cleaning in there today. I know my sense of fun is a little odd but I never once siad I was normal.
“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast