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Will your children want your treasured belongings when you die? Do you have space and the time to take your parents' possessions right now? These are issues that Baby Boomers and even the next generation down are having to deal with—what to do with their parents' stuff.
I love family history and come from a family of collectors, so it shocked me when someone asked in my minimalist group "what to do with dead people's stuff."
It sounds insensitive, but she explained that "I loved those people, but I hate their stuff. Souvenirs from trips I didn't take, mementos of a life I didn't live." She said only a few of those things actually make her smile, actually remind her of the people who owned them.
The rest of the things become a burden, especially for someone trying to achieve a simpler, more minimalistic lifestyle. She tried giving some of the stuff to other family members, but they also inherited masses of junk from the same people and complain about it.
One said she had a difficult situation. She has dishes, vases, clothes, etc. from her grandmother and mother that is not her taste. "I've gotten rid of some items but even my niece does not want her great-grandmother's dishes or hope chest."
There comes a time when you need to let go. When the excess possessions become burdensome rather than comforting or precious, you need to find solutions.
Lisa had advice after spending years on inherited stuff. Get rid of it. I inherited my mother's entire household. It's taken me ten years to finally be down to the last few items. I tried to give the more cherished items to people I thought would appreciate or cherish them and simply gave away or sold the rest. You'll feel better when you are not weighed down by stuff you feel obligated to keep! I have some small mementos that mean something.
Nan explored the idea of selling some things but got negative feedback from other members of the family. Here's what she is going to try this Christmas: "This year Christmas is at my house. I'm going to put all this stuff in one room and tell everyone to take home whatever they want because the rest is going out the door by New Year."
One person explained what worked for her, "I learned to never let my mom know that I was planning to get rid of anything. They always give me a hard time and freak out about it." Keep in mind that all those things now belong to you. "Don't ask permission. Only you own them, therefore, in the most loving manner, do what you want with them."
If it doesn't bring you joy, let it go. We should never have to feel guilty for ridding ourselves of clutter or things that take up precious space (whether it's space/clutter in our living spaces or space/clutter in our minds/hearts/souls). If your family members don't like you getting rid of it, they can either take it or deal with it.
You don't want to be like one fellow who still has his great-grandmother's broken eyeglasses. "Why," he asked? "It's hard to hurt feelings, but I don't have space for this kind of stuff.
Here's a final thought: You have memories . you don't need things!
© 2017 Virginia Allain
MD Jackson MSIOP from Western United States on August 02, 2017:
You cant take it with you, sell it while you are alive and do something for you kids with the money. Ask them if there is anything they would want if you passed, then give that to them. No one wants strangers traipsing through their home digging in their sewing box, just get rid of anything you don't need.
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on July 28, 2017:
I just kept a few treasures of my moms and with her having Alzheimer's while I cared for her in the last years she would try to give them away right in front of me!
Just another funny memory.