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Tip Tuesday – Milestones and Memorabilia

Milestones and Memorabilia blog Image

This week marks a bittersweet milestone for me. “Pi Day” (March 14th) marked five years since my beloved mother, Helen Cawley, died. I was SO lucky to have her for as long as I did. She lived a month short of her 99th birthday and was in fairly good health up until the last few years. She taught me all I know about organizing and did file folding decades before Marie Kondo was born!

I mention this because SO many of my clients have lost loved ones and have inherited literally thousands of things. With homes that are already full to bursting, they grapple with what belongings they should keep from these late loved ones. 

To avoid such added stress, I recommend that NOW is the time to think about the items that are important to YOU to hold on to when your loved ones pass. Before you are even in that situation, imagine that you can ONLY keep what fits in a suitcase or in your car. This visualization will help narrow down your decisions. In the case of furniture, know that you will probably have to forgo some of your OWN pieces to make inherited family pieces fit in your space.

Personally, I brought home one suitcase after my Mom passed. It was filled with the letters I had sent her, her clothes for a quilt, a few pictures, and her ashes. I wrote about the quilt I had made from her clothes here and I talk about it in my most recent FB Live here. I also designed and had a custom urn made, and it gives me a lot of joy to know that my Mom’s ashes are in a beautiful piece of sculpture. 

However, if you are frozen by grief, I IMPLORE you to NOT make any rash decisions. Grief is a powerful emotion and I would hate for you to toss anything that you would regret later. When your family and friends ask you ‘What can I do?’ tell them to pack up some boxes of possible treasures and store them for you until you ARE ready. There is never a good time when you are hurting, but I encourage you to sort through your loved one’s belongings within a year of their passing if you can. Decide what to keep, what to donate, and what to offer to others who knew your loved one. (For example, I filled my sister’s collection of cut crystal bowls with her favorite jelly beans as a “favor” to guests at her memorial.) Or, as in the case of my Mom’s nearly threadbare favorite sheets, have a deep sniff of them and then let them go. 

If you want to honor my Mom’s “deathversary,” please share this with a friend, or five, and invite them to join my FB group below. Thank you for listening and being a part of my community; I hope my experience resonates with some of you.