What do You do With THE STUFF?

by Jill Francis on May 1st, 2019


I’ve been cleaning out my dad’s house for what seems to be the last 15 years.  It’s full of stuff.  A lifetime of stuff.  Stuff we like to call memories:

The milk pitcher from when he was a child.
His mother’s cornbread pan.
My mother’s mother’s handkerchiefs.
My mother’s Hummel plate collection.

The list goes on…

My friend has spent about 120 hours cleaning out her mom’s house and going through 50 years of stuff.  Since she’s self-employed, going through her mom’s house meant time away from work and lost pay.  It cost her 3 weeks in lost wages to get rid of her mom’s stuff.  

The Greatest Generation grew up with nothing, so they kept everything.
The Baby Boomers had some affluence so they bought everything and kept everything.
The Gen Xers don’t want it, they bought their own, they inherited everyone else’s, and now they’re discarding the previous generations’.
The Millenials have their own ideas about everything, so they don’t want the stuff and they don’t want to discard someone else’s.



What do we do with the stuff?  

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Here are some thoughts:

While everyone’s lucid, have family conversations about the Stuff (even if your parents, grandparents are fairly “young”).  Make lists of who wants what or who Grandma wants the spoon collection to go to, etc.  If items are valuable, call in an appraiser and know ahead of time what has value.  Some items can be given away ahead of time, and Grandma and Grandpa can experience the joy of “passing down” the heirlooms.  If money’s preferred, an estate sale or auction can be done, and the money divided among the beneficiaries.  

Working out these kinds of details before someone special leaves us, can help us avoid angry, frustrated and hurt feelings during a time of sorrow.  

Maybe we should stop collecting and giving stuff and start having shared experiences instead.  The point is, start talking, planning and preparing...and maybe even downsize and start cleaning out “the stuff” today, so your loved one (and those left to clean up a lifetime of memories), can have a Gracious Goodbye.


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