Unsettling an Estate: Shake & Sift

Golly it’s hard to be handling the personal items of my parents’ lives. It is August 18 and I’ll be working the next 10 days, through August 28, to shake out as many good-will donations as possible from the first and second floors of my family’s colonial home. We’ve completed sifting through the contents of the basement over six weeks and today we began in my parents’ bedroom closets, identifying items for donation to the local Vera House and Rescue Mission Men’s Shelter. I’m approaching thinning my parents’ closets as if they were still living and I’m assisting them with a down-sizing effort. I’m thinning their personal contents; I’m not completely cleaning-out. These coping methods help to soften the grief and the finality of their deaths. Keeping a few personal belongings hanging in the closet allows access to their scents, their favorite textures, their fashion-personalities. Many aspects of their physical presence remain accessible through these saved items.

Peg of Moore Organized is helping me sort through my parents’ rooms, the heart of the matter, as these items are the most difficult to emotionally handle. Without help, I felt that I might become paralyzed in the process. With help, it is still an emotionally demanding process. Unpacking and re-packing table linens and candles my mother stored for 30 years in a dresser revealed her dreams of dinner parties laying still, silenced by a marriage that didn’t support those dreams. Silky nightgowns that experienced mainly a celibate marriage, will be donated to Vera House. I’m not only feeling the grief of losing my parents, I’m feeling the grief and losses of their distant marriage. It is strange and remarkable to me how cumulative the grief experience is for me now, experienced-as-expected from my personal perspective yet also feeling a strong sense of my mother’s heart-ache. Donating my father’s clothing to a mission-based-organization serving men who struggle with, strive for, and achieve substance recovery and renewal seems right for myself and my father as our whole lives were impacted by our active coping-with-being adult children of alcoholics.

Estate Management Tip: Down-sizing and categorizing the contents of your personal space is helpful for the person or team who will take care of your belongings after your death.

Moving forward with a listening heart,
vision, inquiry, and action,
~ Mary

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