Letting go is never easy. When you lose someone close to you, even the smallest item can become a relic of a life that touched you. So you may hang on to it as something too precious to let go. When it’s your mother who’s passed, the emotions — and sentimental attachments — can become even stronger.
When it’s necessary to clear out mom’s stuff, especially while you’re still grieving, you may feel the urge to save everything. Instead, with the help of someone you trust, pick just those select few things that keep her close to your heart without filling boxes that inevitably collect dust or will be left to your children to figure out what to do with.
Remember, just because you’re clearing out mom’s stuff, and making room for the new, it doesn’t mean that you love her any less. It doesn’t mean you’ll miss her less. It means you see value in letting go. Perhaps you can find some better ways to remember the mom you love than storing her wedding gown in your attic for another 20 years, or cramming her linens in the back of your hall closet just in case you need them, when paper napkins really make more sense.
Keeping It Real
At Art of Downsizing, we’ve witnessed many adult children going through the process of clearing out mom’s personal belongings. We’ve found a few tips that can help you keep her memory alive:
Keep some things. Never feel pressured to get rid of everything. It’s perfectly OK if you collect a large number of items in your “keep” pile. You can always revisit the pile and downsize it later.
Start some rituals. Beyond visiting her grave often, find other ways to routinely honor your mother. Plant a tree every year or pick a certain place that she loved to visit and go there annually to remind you of all the great times you shared together.
Pictures and scrapbooking. Photographs are the most obvious things to hold on to. Uploading them to a disc for easy access and distribution or doing it the old-fashioned way and creating a scrapbook or shadow box mixed with ephemera is a great way to ensure everyone sees those dear memories and you don’t have to carry boxes of heavy frames to your new home.
Scented keepsake. Our sense of smell is the closest link to memory we have, so if your mom had a signature perfume she was never without, keep the fragrance close for that automatic smile or make a sachet with rose petals from her garden to bring that scent to your home.
Donate in her name. There is no better way to honor your mother’s memory than donating to her favorite charities or even starting a foundation or scholarship in her name. Use some of the money you make from the estate sale and give to a cause that would make your mother proud.
Bringing You Closer
Your mother’s memory can live on in countless different ways. One of the most important things to remember when clearing out mom’s stuff is to not get caught up in the material things she had. Focus on honoring her spirit. The number of things you have to remember her by is not important, but the way you choose to honor her is.
When taking on the task of clearing out mom’s stuff, you may feel isolated and overwhelmed. Take on a positive outlook and use the task to bring you closer to your mom, which is so much easier to do with support. Get help if you need it. Art of Downsizing is only a phone call away at 828-772-5959.