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?  

See the source imagehttp://files.cluster2.hgsitebuilder.com/hostgator88780/image/junk2.png

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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Sheila - May 2nd, 2019 at 8:22 AM
Great article, Jill. This is so difficult. A couple of years ago I went through all of my mom's photos. Gazillions of photos in albums. There were pictures of people she didn't even remember. Pictures of terrible quality. Multiple pictures of the same thing. I took the ones worth keeping, in my opinion, scanned them all and gave them back because of course she wanted them back. She was quite upset that I would get rid of the ones not worth keeping. I tried to explain that no one else wants them and she was ... stunned. The fact that her family may not want things is foreign to her. I'm trying to get rid of my own things as it is. Yet every time I visit she tries to pack more things into my car to take. It's frustrating but I just do it because it's not worth the fight.
- September 23rd, 2019 at 7:09 PM
Hi, Sheila,
It is frustrating and I feel your pain. I took alot from my dad's house and ended up dumping it in the trash at home. It was hard, sad and necessary. I'm not a minimalist yet, but I'm considering it! :)
MaryLou - May 2nd, 2019 at 1:35 PM
I%u2019m learning that I shouldn%u2019t just leave the things I have collected so that my son will have to deal with it all when I am gone. I%u2019m still dealing with my mother%u2019s and grandmother%u2019s stuff that I used to think was valuable. But it is only valuable if someone wants/likes it. Sigh.
- September 23rd, 2019 at 7:11 PM
Yes, MaryLou,
Big, big sigh.... It's just hard and I'm like you; I don't want to leave it for my boys. And you're right, it's only valuable if someone else wants it. Be of good cheer, you're not alone! :)

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