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Keeping Belongings


jc1030

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Hello everyone,

I was wondering how people dealt with the issue of keeping the belongings of your loved one. I'm sure everyone handles this differently but just curious. How much do you keep, and how long do you keep things the same?

When one of my friends lost his mom a few years ago, his dad basically started anew and threw out everything that belonged to his wife, and told his kids that if they wanted anything of hers, now's the time.

When my dad died, my mom began cleaning the house of things. He had collected a lot of junkmail because his depression and paranoia unfortunately made him question everything, so it was no big deal to get rid of that. She's taking a gradual approach. Eventually we'll probably sell the car he was driving to a family friend. As for me, I'm keeping the clothes that he wore most often, a pair of his eyeglasses, and some other sentimental items.

Jeff

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Jeff,

I think everyone reacts differently when it comes to personal belongings. I've had family members keep everything for many months and some that wanted the belongings out immediately to try and avoid the pain of seeing them daily when they lost loved ones.

I lost my wife going on nine months ago. My first desire was to leave everything just the way she left it, but it wasn't a healthy outlook. I didn't want to create a shrine never to be touched. My wife also had family that desired something close and personal to help them through the grief. I elected to keep many of the more personal things for a couple of months until the initial shock was over with then I would have time to sort through them. Everything else(clothes and things that family and friends had given my wife) I let family and friends go through and let me know what they would like. I wasn't the only one that loved my wife and lost her. Friends and family had a piece of their heart carved away too. The material things didn't make up my wife. Special things that I had given her I kept and a few things that I knew brought her much joy. The rest I wanted to share with the people that meant so much to her. I would say do what makes you feel the most comfortable. There are no set rules or guidelines we use in dealing with the loss of our loved ones. It's whatever makes us deal with it in the easiest way. I looked at it this way, when giving something of my wife's away and I see it at a friend or family's it makes me feel as though she is still there wherever I go. It also is what my wife believed in - share what you have in life because it's not what material things you have that makes you special. What makes you special is what's inside your heart. My wife had a heart the whole world would have loved. It's a shame more people didn't know her.

Do whatever makes you feel best!!!!

Rick

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I was my Mom's caregiver for some time before her death. My DragonSister was the executor of the estate and wasted no time in getting rid of things. My Mom died at 6:30AM, and by shortly after Noon DragonSis was ripping through desk drawers and cabinets tossing things out. I never had the chance to absorb the loss in familiar, unchanged surroundings. Within a day, there were those huge garbage bags full of stuff on the back porch. By the day of her funeral there were a few dozen on the back porch and back yard. Exactly one week after the death there was a big dumpster in the driveway. Nice image.

I managed to grab a hold of some mementos and small items of furniture (end tables, plant stands, that were mine anyway either by use or Mom giving them to me a few years ago ("unofficially"). That didn't stop DragonSis from allowing her executrix-ness going to her head (absolute power corrupts absolutely) and stomping her widdle feet protesting. (She had no qualms about what she felt entitled to.)

Anyway, despite the apparent nature of the above two paragraphs, property wasn't really the issue between DragonSis and I, attitudes and grief-coping mechanisms were.

My sister's attitude towards it all was that she needed to keep busy to keep her mind off things. There was little cooperation about the disposition of Mom's belongings. Although to her credit, DragonSis allowed me to take certain of my Mom's oil paintings that I had coveted, and she was 'nice' re: old family photos (I'll assume she made digital prints, otherwise her branch of the family now has little photographic evidence I exist.)

Take care, all.

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Paul

your sister sounds as bad as my two. it is amazing what happens to families.

Jeff

I kept alot of my moms stuff and my sibling took what they wanted. i kept some special clothes, a special set of china and alot of other stuff. for me it is hard to get rid of anything. however she had downsized when she moved into her assisted living and then when she moved in with me it went in storage. i think everyone is different and you will know when it is right. Lori

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  • 3 weeks later...

My dad died Dec. 7, 2006. So far my mom has left everything where it is. I agree with her that there's no rush. Slowly, she has changed a few things -- moved paintings to different places on the walls that she likes. His clothes are all still in the closets and drawers. But it's not quite three months yet. Why rush? Besides, she is a person who likes things very tidy, so eventually I know she will feel like packing things up. She's just not ready yet. It's not like a shrine, she's living in the house and using her own things like she did before. She says after 56 years of marriage, the loss is huge, and she doesn't want to change anything familiar at first -- she has enough of an adjustment without tearing the house apart and getting rid of his things. I think she's wise.

My ex-husband left everything to his best friends who took care of him when he was ill. He was not into wills and things, so didn't leave anything to anyone else. His friend, who was also his executor, asked me if there was anything I wanted. I said I would like my wedding ring if she could find it. The ring was his mother's, so when we divorced I gave it back to him (he treasured anything of his mother's, because she died when we were in college.) His executor did find both my wedding ring and engagement ring and gave them to me. She also gave me a cap of his, some of his books (she gave me a choice) and his college ring. It was really nice of her to think of me. I have a few things left from when we were married but not many, since I've moved several times and had to get rid of some things.

I think it's good to take your time and wait until you feel ready. A lot of people rush into getting rid of things and selling the house, etc. Sometimes you financially have no choice, but getting rid of all these "reminders" will not make the pain go away. They can be comforting instead. The clothes still smell like the person. Eventually, you will feel ready to give away or sell some things, but there will probably be a few special things that you will always keep. As a remembrance, I wear my wedding and engagement rings on different fingers on my right hand. Most people don't even notice that they are a wedding set because they are very simple and not on my wedding finger, but I know what they mean to me.

Ann

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  • 1 month later...

Hi All,

When my parents died I was told by my siblings that because I lived with them for most of their lives I would be able to keep things that meant something to me... But in the end I lost some of them as well... I did manage to keep my dad's computer and my mom's lounge chair and my mom's dresser but all the rest of the stuff was given away or sold with the house... My mom's scooter and all her stuff she needed to survive were sold two months after her death and one month after my dad's death the house and the car were both sold... I actually was able to stay in the house for two months after the death of my dad... Now I have my mom's rings but I insisted on them because she had always promised them to me... I just do not know what happens to families once the parents died it's like they turn into little monster and distroy all that was and save nothing... Take care Shelley

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Hi Everyone,

I recently helped my mom move out a few more things and reorganized the house a little more. We got rid of the bed that my dad slept on for many years, and it was difficult for me. Sure, in the general scheme of things it was only an old bed, but it was something that was in the house for as long as I could remember. Just another step in this process that I have to go through. Now that it's gone, I'll just have to start getting used to it not being there anymore.

Jeff

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Hi everyone again,

Sorry if I sound like I'm rambling on this subject. Last weekend when I was checking up on my mom and helping her out around the house, it just saddened me that I was looking at all the things that my parents collected over the years, and knowing there was one member of the family who was no longer there to enjoy them. All the years. All the memories. Many things that belonged to my dad since even before I was born. I imagine this is what a lot of people feel when a loved one dies. I think maybe it's starting to really hit me that my dad's gone. I wonder to myself what am I going to do with all these things, especially when the day comes when it's just me.

Jeff

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  • 3 months later...

I'm jumping into this discussion kind of late, but wanted to share my experience following my daughter's death. We no sooner got through planning things with the funeral home than my daughter's fiancee started throwing things away and bagging things up. I quickly grabbed some of the things I wanted to keep to remember her by so he wouldn't trash those. He wanted every reminder of her to "disappear" from his house. So shortly after the funeral my younger daughter, daughter-in-law and I had to go to the house and finish sorting through whatever he had not boxed up already. We made sure everything left with us one way or another.

I find it comforting to wear some of her clothing and jewelry--like she's here with me when I do. When I do something I'm a bit anxious about I make sure to "take her with me" by wearing a favorite ring and an ankle bracelet to give me courage and strength. She also had a little lamp she loved, and we kept it lit through the long, dark nights of her final weeks. I keep it lit here in my house now and think of her every time I turn it off or on. I hung a couple of her necklaces around the rearview mirror in my car and sometimes I just touch them and talk to her.

I think those people who want no reminders are missing out by getting rid of things that could help them heal. But we all grieve differently...

Deborah

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I also carry my mom with me everyday. i wear her ring on my finger and her bracelet both things i bought her. also if i am away from home on a trip or anything, i take pictures of her and my dog Spanky. i never want anything to happen to our house and not have there pictures. they go everywhere. my 12yr old son wears one of her t shirts as a pj shirt. it makes him feel closer to her. my 9 could not fit in any. we all have our own way of keeping them close, and i think there is nothing wrong with it. oh, i also sleep on the pillow that she died on, it was the last place she was. i took the pillow case of and put it in a ziplock bag and put it in her hope chest. forever it will be with me. lori

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I think people who feel compelled to eradicate all memory don't know how to deal with the death, can't deal with it. They have to make it disappear from their view. Some are also very self-absorbed and don't want "their" world annoyed by it.

Over time there are things you look at and suddenly wonder, "why did I keep that?." But there are things we will always need to see and have. After all, for us the person physically is gone but the love, the bonding, is always there. They were never cancelled and neither were their lives. They lived. They touched people. It is just that now they are harder to reach being in a different plane. Death is "over there". We are "still here". (for now).

Be careful with what you toss today. Tomorrow you may regret never being able to get something back hastily or in confusion removed forever. Things can always be put aside to be gone over later, and later can be 3 years from now or never. When is not so important. What is when? Time will move itself no matter what we do.

I keep some things from my husbands in their usual places because why should I cancel them from a house that was theirs' too? Why make more holes to see? Why erase such wonderful memories? This is my house now, but their essences are absorbed into it and me. Who am I to try and take that away?

Chandrasmom: The reactions of your daughters' fiance are selfish for not thinking of you and others. My heart goes to you and your family at this time Doublejo

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I think that for most of us, we have lived with our loved ones for a very long time. For someone who was a fiance, they only lived for such a short time that they want to get over it quick they haven't accumilated years and years of memories. I am not saying that this is the norm, and I certaintly don't know how someone who is engaged might feel over someone like me who was married for 12 years. I for one had to keep most of her stuff and have only just now started getting rid of stuff after 16 months.

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  • 2 months later...

Hi All,

I have won the game, I get to keep my mom's old dresser... It was one of the first pieces of furniture my dad and her owned... My sister wanted me to get rid of it but I than was told if I hid it away where no one would see it I could keep it... So it is in my part of the storage room and no one does see it and I use it for seasonal clothes... So it is not that it is not being used because I do use it... Take care Shelley

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