I talked about “stuff” in my last post and how too much of it can be overwhelming. I believe most of us have an excess of unnecessary belongings that tend to rob us of precious time and energy. Hopefully, you have made an attempt to release yourself from all the unwanted physical and emotional “stuff” that weighs you down. Maybe you did try to “lighten your load” and then became stuck. It can be a tremendous task to sort and get rid of our belongings and the belongings of others. It’s even more difficult if we are going through the things of a person who has died or is no longer in our lives. I reiterate, it can be an extremely tough job to let go of the objects when they have sentimental value, belonged to a loved one, or provoke fond memories. Going through my things, I heard myself saying, “That was my grandmother’s crystal bowl, that’s my favorite uncle’s clock, that is the artwork from my child when she was in kindergarten!” Do I really need any of it? Do I even want it? Why do I hold on? Possibly I keep these things out of desire, guilt or just being overwhelmed. Maybe I feel that holding on to these things will keep a part of a person’s memory alive. When grieving, it can be especially hard to let go and move forward because somewhere inside you may think if you do indeed let those things go, you’re leaving your loved one behind. You may feel that if you discard the item, you’re letting go of someone you love! We must all realize, including myself, that it’s okay to let these objects go; it’s not a betrayal to anyone and it doesn’t change the memories or the feelings concerning that person. Why do we associate objects so closely with people or memories? Maybe it’s because we can still touch the object even though the person is gone. Irregardless, you don’t have to hold on to their things to hold on to the memories or the love.
I know I wanted to save so many “old” things for my children to keep and preserve. Did I think it would provide them with a piece of history long gone or offer them a heritage of some sort? My children strongly assured me that they have no desire to take the bubble-wrapped possessions in my trunk. They truly had no use for their great-grandmother’s ceramic bird collection, their worn out baby clothes or my first set of china. They are smart enough to know that they don’t want to be burdened with other people’s stuff. In exchange, my children assured me they would rather have photos, scrapbooks, and stories to be passed down. They understand that the essence of a person or a family is not imbedded in the things they possess, but the true legacy to be cherished is visible through our hearts and memories. Wow! Who raised those kids anyway? That’s a smart generation.
Take Positive Action
I encourage you to go through the “stuff” in your personal space and home; and for goodness’ sakes, get rid of that storage building you’re making monthly payments on! Think of how you could bless someone else by donating those unused items to a thrift store or to someone who could actually use and appreciate them. Also think about the money, time and frustration you would save. There are so many benefits that arise from such positive actions. Feel good about yourself when making these decisions to let go. However, if you truly want to remember some of these special items but realize you no longer have the space for them – then “keep them” in a photo. You can create a scrapbook of special memories that span generations and it only takes a little shelf space! Trust me, a photo can evoke the same fond memory as the object itself; I have actually done this.
Release the “stuff” and be free from the bondage and burdens it holds. In your new-found freedom, you can put more energy and time in adding to your family’s collection of fond memories in a different way. Provide your loved ones with the precious, but intangible, feeling they get when the word “family” is mentioned. Let them remember your presence and participation, not your things. Give them the gifts of joy, acceptance, laughter, affection, sharing, fun and unconditional love. THAT is the legacy you want to have passed down, not the dusty old relics packed away in the attic.