Just like most things in life, our belongings are really all about relationships. The things we choose to surround ourselves with build a pattern of our personal journey through life. We are defined by the stories our stuff can tell, from family memories to souvenirs, from items that portray our values and interests to the can’t-live-without-it collections. So you can only imagine how the simple, physical act of cleaning out a loved one’s storage locker can become an emotional reminder of a life lived, and how passing on those items to someone new can be an antidote to loss.
Dealing with a family member’s belongings can often be a positive, cathartic process for grieving sons and daughters. 1-800-GOT-JUNK? truck team members witness this healing on a daily basis when lending their support to remove items from an estate clean-out…or even a storage locker, as Denine Severino Taylor, author of the blog, words&music 365, poignantly describes in her recent post:
8:45 – I am heading out the door to meet the Got Junk guys. I am oddly buoyant considering I have waited 10 months (since my mom’s passing last August) to clean out her storage room. Part of my motivation is not wanting to spend $96 a month to store memory touchstones that, even if I waited another 10 months or another 10 years would still be there with all their power. I’m not sure what to expect today.
It is never easy saying goodbye to stuff, even someone else’s, because we can all identify with the attachment we feel to things – how they make us feel, why we purchased it or who gave it to us, the memories they invoke, etc…… So decisions need to reflect a balance of practicality and sentimentality.
I know there will be boxes of mementos which I am planning to just haul back home for another day. And there is an odd antique ashtray set that was my mother’s pride and joy. Sitting on the sofa last night, trying to figure out what to do with this item made me realize that if there was one thing my mother would come back from the grave to “get me” for, it would be this albatross. I have decided that the better part of valor is to keep it, much as it would be fun to see my mom again.
We know from our everyday experiences helping people clear away junk that its the relationship with “stuff” that really contributes to the accumulation of junk in our homes. When it comes time to part with it out of necessity, knowing that many items can live on and be useful for others can make all the difference during the difficult parting process.
11:00 – The crew arrives. Zach and P.J. are extremely helpful, and comment several times on how nice the furniture is that I’m giving away. It is nice stuff and it makes me feel good that they think so too. As I say to them, “Unless I want to start a museum in my Mom’s honor, I really have no place to put it.” They are very understanding and assure me that they will donate everything and it won’t go into a landfill. This means everything to me. It means recycling and a good home for furniture that meant something to my Mom. And less grief for me when she comes back to haunt me about giving away the grandfather clock that never kept the right time.