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Question about "stuff"


KatieB

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I have a question I wanted to throw out there for your opinions. This is a personal question from my own personal experiences, and NOT directed or inferred towards anyone else or their situations- I am not trying to offend anyone, I just would like your opinions.

(*I'm not talking about photos or personal items that belonged to your loved one that passed away- )

Do you think by selling (getting rid of) material things (car, house, furniture, etc...), we are subconsciously trying to get rid of the bad memories associated with the deaths of our loved ones?

Keep in mind the car, house, furniture were all fine, not old or broken, and could have been utilized for many years to come......and were utilized often during dad's illness.

I tell myself that it is the natural progression of life, it has been almost 3 years, but I don't know that I would have choosen these same paths had my dad not passed away. Even though I know our memories live in our hearts, and many of those memories associated with those material things were of a sad and devestating time, sometimes I feel like I am getting rid of him one piece at a time... :cry:

What do you think?

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Katie,

This is such an interesting question! No, I don't believe that getting rid of things is a bad thing or an emotional "throw away" at all!

Interestingly this is a MAJOR issue at my house. I was raised in a family where when things got old, or seriously out of date say, we often bought new. I don't mean that in a bad way at all. I just mean that we weren't tied to something just because we had had it a long time, or because we thought we might be able to use it later. We were NOT savers. My mom has three or four really special items from her mom's house, and three or four items from her childhood.

My husband's family on the other hand is the extreme other way. They save EVERYTHING and I am NOT exaggerating. Part of it is being conservative, and the other part is that they align emotional ties with stuff. They have pictures on their wall of people they dont' know, but since the pictures were in their parents' house, they felt the need to keep them.

So...this brings me to where we are. My inlaws saved ALL my husbands kid toys and clothes. We get them, and I feel like my kids can't get new stuff because we simply don't have room. Does that make sense? I feel obligated to save it too because they did for all these years.

I don't like the idea of getting tied to material things. I like the memories, pictures, and special things. My favorite thing to do is make holiday decorations out of things. That way, as my kids and I decorate, and we take things out of boxes, it opens us to special stories rarely told.

My husband and I constatly argue about getting rid of things. (Not argue really, but discuss.) I dont' want my kids to feel the way I feel about his parents stuff. They should be able to feel free of my outdated, old, never used things, if they want to be. I would hope they would save my special things...jewelry, pictures, blankets I made them, etc. but I dont' know. I just again hate the idea of getting tied to "stuff."

OK...so I am not sure if I really answered your question or not...but this is quite a passionate issue at my house! Can you tell!?!

Thanks Katie again, for all you do!

Jen

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Dear Katie:

I do not think that by selling material things we are getting rid of bad memories. Memories are here forever no matter what we do. I feel as though everytime I go in my parents home or his car I expect him to be there. It is hard, but I love looking outside and may parents gazebo and seeing my father sitting there during the summer even though he is gone. The house actually brings back fond and loving memories.

There is no clear cut answer to your question. I am also an estate attorney and based upon the person, their age, their financial situations, etc. there are so many reasons. For an elder person they sell because of sadness of living alone in their home or moving in with family or just to big. For others its a financial reason. If the material belongings are in other states it is difficult to handle matters from far away. Material things are just things.

You can never get rid of your father. He is in everthing you do and the reason why you continue this site. Memories and feelings are with us always and can never be sold and keep are loved ones alive within us.

God Bless.

Cathy

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I guess what is bothering me is that HE was tied to those things (my car- that I eventually traded in 2 years ago) (my house, where he spent so much time and where there are so many memories of him and events with him) and getting "rid" of those things feels like I am getting rid of him or my "connection" to him.

And the replacements (another car, a new house, etc...) are things that have NOTHING to do with him, and are things he never experienced and will never ever see.

I know it sounds stupid.

When my mom changed her house. It didn't bother me. When she shuffeled things into his office, that didn't bother me. Those were her memories, that was her way thru and she NEEDED to do that.... Her (their) home looks completly different now and none of it has ever bothered me for a second....

But when it comes to my own ties to my dad....I feel like trading the car, selling the house, that I am getting rid of that, one by one and he is getting further away from me.

I know, it sounds stupid.

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Ah well, Katie, I DO think I understand your concerns. Let me admit to my 'family' here that I have hung onto a few things that belonged to my folks. Of course, I have the antique dishes in the hutch and the family silverware. I guess I should almost feel a bit ashamed :oops: of what else I have hung onto besides those type of things.............my Dad's light blue windbreaker jacket! Yep! I have had it 23 years now, and maybe once a year I actually wear it! Can't wear it too much or it would fall apart, ya know. Then there are a few articles of Mother's clothing that for a long while after she died remained 'smelling' just like her. The smell is long gone, but those few things remain hanging in the spare room closet. In college she sent a postcard to myself and all my housemates. That postcard had dogs on the front (loved those dogs even way back then). I still have that tucked into the corner of my mirror. It is SO many years old that I won't even tell. It is crumbling on the edges, but I am very careful to not destroy any more of it.

Other than those things, though, that is it. I think disposing of a car or house or other 'stuff' that falls into that category is really a healthy direction to go. You are right, Katie, each item we get rid of takes us a step further away from our life we shared with our loved one. But this is a NEW journey now. And I think we do not rid ourselves of memories............just all the physical trappings that actually have little to do with our loved one. Do not fret over your decision. What you decide for YOU is the right way to go. Eventually it becomes a bit easier to let go of the emotional ties we have to things and we remember on a much higher level. The 'stuff' we have in our hearts and minds are permanent. As long as we retain those things we are never too far removed from those we have loved.

Guess this really is of no help..........sorry. And I cannot believe I admitted to the 'stuff' I have hung onto. Never told anyone about that before...............hmmmmmmmmmmm!

Be kind to yourself, Katie, and don't over-analyze it all.

Love,

Kasey

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Katie - I don't think you are subconcoiusly getting rid of bad memories. In fact I agree with Kasey that this is healthy and a good thing that you are getting on with your life. I'm wondering if you are feeling a bit of survivor's remorse, as your dad is not here to experience the new things that are going on in your life.

And Kasey, don't be ashamed of what you've held on to all these years either. I think it is great to have a few momentos that really throw us back in time and brings back some happy memories.

And I also agree with Jen, that it can be bad to be overloaded with too much stuff. We can't hold on to everything that has anything to do with our loved ones as I am sure we all have a limited amount of storage space. I've been cleaning out my kids toys as they have too many things and can't enjoy them as there is alway too much clutter. I threw away a viewmaster as I thought my kids had ruined all the reels that came with them (then found the reels later in tact so had to throw them out too). Now my mother-in-law has just given us all my husbands toys as a kid that they have hung onto for the past 40 years (and 3 moves) and now we have ANOTHER view master. I'm not sure what we are supposed to do with these toys but when I get time they are going on Ebay. :wink:

Karen

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(((((((((((((Katie))))))))))))

Every time I read one of your posts about your Dad, ny heart just breaks. I know how close the two of you were and how much you loved each other.

After losing Dennis, there were some things that i had to get out of the house right away. The first to go was a new leather recliner that his dad bought him when he was sick. It has all the creature features (as Dennis would say) and it was great to help ease his back pain which was caused by the mets on his spine. After Dennis died, I couldn't handle walking in the house and seeing that recliner. My son has it now and, although it brings back memories, I don't have a problem with seeing it there. I also had to sell Dennis' truck right away. when I would pull into my driveway, I always had a feeling that Dennis was inside the truck, just waiting to come inside.

Selling our house is something I cannot do...not yet. Although I have moved on with my life, I still think of this house as a strong connection with my past. There's a lot of my past that I'll never be able to leave behind.

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Heck no.

Listen, we had alot of stuff. After Dave died I had to move from our eight acres in the country to a subdivision house. I HAD to get rid of alot of stuff because I didn't need it, had no where to put it. some of it was hard to do, some of it was easy to get rid of, but it was necessary. Now I've decided to downsize more and go into a townhouse (granted, one that has a garage and is only 200 sq. feet smaller than this house) and here it is, one year after his death, and I'm going through things again, and things I couldn't bear to give up one year ago is a no brainer today. Things like you mention. I'll keep the small table he made, but the recliner he sat in every day while he was sick went out a long time ago. his trumpets are in a display case but I got rid of alot of old yellowing torn up sheet music. kept a few books of music he had for Faith. etc. I'll never get rid of his cub scout shirt, his promo photos from his bands, anything like that, but when it comes to vehicles (we had six, now I have one, I only need one), boats, camping trailers, tools, beat up furniture, that's NOT HIM.

My mom died in january of colon cancer. my parents have been in their house 40 years. my mom was a pack rat (but a good one, the house always looked neat). my dad is in the process of de-cluttering. I'm going to have one major yard sale. he's bringing it all to my house. lamps, small appliances, tons of knick knacks, dishes and dishes and dishes. yet I went over to his house the other day and he found their wedding picture and put it out - I hadn't seen that in YEARS. I think he's getting rid of all the useless stuff that is literally in the way of the good memories, and so am I, he's my role model in many ways.

in my opinion, the bottom line is, getting rid of STUFF just opens one up, clean one's mind out, for the good things that should be first and foremost about your life with someone.

Karen

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Ann- I know my mom will never sell the house either. It's been theirs for 31 years. It will always be her home. But she does talk about buying another house one day, or living part of the year somewhere else (maybe visits with my sisters is CA for months at a time)... but everything in that house is different from when my dad was there. And that is a healthy thing.

I just this month has been kind of hard on me.

Kasey- I am over-analyzing...I do have my dad's cane and his jacket and his hat! lol, a box of family momentos (from his ancestors) and photos and the memories in my heart...

There have just been alot of changes this month and I guess it has me missing my dad.

It does come in waves.

Hugs everyone.

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My dear friend Katie,

I am not sure my answer will be popular but here goes..I wish my mom would get rid of everything in her house that is a reminder of my dad and his last 10 months. I wish she would get rid of the couch that he was always sitting on when I went to see him, I wish she would get rid of the porch he use to sit on and what I really wish is that she would sell their house that they lived in for 45 years...Those things for me are too painful to look at, there was way too much suffering in that house and yes I feel I relive it everytime I walk in there..

Everytime I go there I see my thin frail dad and I dont want to see that anymore..I think you are ready like me to let go of it all, but are afraid maybe letting go means forgetting them, but we both know that they were way to important in our lives to ever forget..I know I want to get rid of all the "stuff" that reminds me of his pain, and I guess that would be an awful lot of "stuff" but I think we have to do what feels right to us..I know you want to erase all the bad things(me too)maybe in time we will be able to..I'm there with you Katie, I really know what you are saying..Its still so hard :cry:

XO

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This is a very interesting topic as I have been looking around our house and all the "stuff" that's here....wondering just what I am gonna' do with it all -- and the house is still filled with all of my dad's personal things, right down to where he last left them (right down to his gym bag in his office -- it's still filled with whatever he left in it). I have already begun the process in my mind of what I am gonna' get rid of and it's been interesting for me to observe what I've thought about it so far and how I've felt about it.

I think my mind's got it "rationalized" as prep. for the day I have to do it and let's just see what actually happens when I actually face the day of doing this -- right now I'm frozen in time until I'm the sole one responsible for all of these things.

And, I think you're right about that feeling of severing a tie somehow, Katie (but I don't think it's a bad or unloving thing) -- this is going to sound stupid over something so silly, but I ran across a kitchen sink part in a bag in the garage not long ago -- the receipt was in the bag and it's dated 2 days before my dad got ill -- I just cried and put it down....it was one of the last things my dad went out and bought on his own.....to use it or discard it right now, I couldn't do in that moment.

That silly example might help show how I think we are actually in a process of re-wiring our own heads, if you will.... how and what we think about our loved ones does change as things get replaced....it's not the stuff itself, it's how we have it connected in our own minds. See, if I hadn't seen that receipt, I would have no reason to tie that silly part to a sad event related to my dad in my mind.

Now, every time we let go of "stuff," we let go of a reason to think whatever we think about the item in relation to our loved one....good or bad. The memory will be there, but I think we feel a loss because we won't be stimulated to think the same way once we get rid of those material things. It's almost like "stuff" generates thinking habits in us and that's what we are almost unwilling to let go of with certain things. It's sort of like if you don't practice something routinely, like things being present in your life to remind you to think about them, you tend to forget -- that's scary to us when it comes to loved ones. Because as each thing goes, it's also one less time we are routinely thinking of our loved one as well -- and while we never will, we are afraid we will forget them too.

Guess that's why when I have to do this "cleaning out the stuff" task, I'm gonna' pay close attention to keeping the things that bring joy and discarding the things that hold bad memory. Some things, like a car, are going to wear out and need replaced at some point. Even the house may ultimately too big for me to stay in long-term.... but I'll be sure to keep around enough things that can endure and uphold the fond memories I want to hang onto nonetheless.

Linda

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Katie,

I have followed this question all day and I feel like when I go back and read what I wrote, I sound like I don't "care" about things that were my parents or my husband's parents'. I don't mean it that way. I don't think you are letting go of memories if you get rid of things. I think it goes back to the part of taking care of yourself. Cherish the memories. I like the idea of taking pictures of things, so I can reminisce as a family when I see the pictures. It brings back the stories so needed to tell.

Do you think there is a part of us that feels guilt for going on with our lives when we get new or discard the old? I know my mother in law has described it that way...

Regardless, go with your heart, and don't feel you are losing the memories...they are in tact, and just need reminding to make present.

God bless!

Jen

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Jen, I absolutely know you didn't mean you didn't care about your parents or in-laws!! :wink:

All these points are well taken and everyone is right. The memories shouldn't be tied to the stuff.

The thing is I'm going to move this Fall. This house is the very last thing I have in my life that my father was a part of. (not the photos, jacket or cane or his hat- those get packed away and pulled out when I WANT to remember him)

But in this house, I still see him kicking back on my sofa, eating dinner in my kitchen, strolling out to the backyard and swinging under the giant tree on a wooden swing...smiling a silly grin, saying something crazy. I see the family around my table the day after dad was dx., and we all ate in silence- a part of us all died that day. I remember every single moment with him in this house and it does NOT haunt me.

In fact, it comforts me- like he is still here, still part of my life in someway- like he still knows where I live........

When we move- it will be gone. I just feel like I am getting farther and farther away from him and that is what is breaking my heart.

Thank you all on your perspectives. It really does help.

It reiterates the fact that we all go thru this differently.

And I will quit over-analyzing things now and just go with it, feel it, and get thru it.

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As i stated above i feel the same way about my parents home when i go there every day and true they will not be there in your new home, but the memories will always be with you. May you should take pictures of the rooms in your house and every time you look at them you will have those memories of your house and your father. Your father will always be apart of your life. For the three years that I lurked everytime you have posted your father is with you. A love between a father and daughter can never be replaced or lost. It is in our hearts and soul. So yes you are losing a part of the memories that associated to the house, but they all stem from love, which though they have died will never die within us.

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Ah, well...I can already tell my response is going to be long, and full of those "memories."

Interestingly enough, Katie, we are putting our house up for sale soon, also, and I know for a fact it is not yet hitting me that this is the last place my mom lived and I won't be able to sit in the chair, close my eyes and say, "ok, just be in there this once," open my eyes and look in her room hoping to see her sitting there. My mom sold her home, the one she and my dad built together and planned on retiring in, (and neither one made it to retirement due to blasted LC) because she just couldn't take care of it or herself, for that matter, anymore.

My mom's stuff: I did clean out her room a bit, just got rid of some real honest-to-goodness trash, (and I told her I hoped she wouldn't get mad...for going through her things AND for throwing things away) but her clothes and everyday items remain untouched. I don't know WHAT I'm going to do when we need to pack things up!! And we have all of this medical equipment, which my mom paid over $11,000 for out of her own pocket, and I know for a fact that Stu doesn't want to have to move it all when we go. Her motorized wheelchair--THAT will be a hard one to get rid of. It was a part of her everyday life in more recent years. Her crutch--well, she contracted Polio at age 12 and had numerous surgeries in high school, and used the same crutch from then up until 2002, and everyone always joked that her crutch was her third leg and she should be buried with it...so I did. Now, my mom's car...I kept it. She got a sports car a few years ago and she just loved that car so much, I know right now, I just can't get rid of it. It's hard for me to drive it though...so Stu drives it to work. We're getting new license plates for it that say, "MISSUMA." (Miss you Ma.)

I guess I do hold a lot of attachment to certain tangible items, but I am just about the extreme opposite of a packrat as one could get in my own right. I don't personally feel like anything I get rid of will get rid of the bad memories.

Ironically, we are planning on moving back to the town my mom lived in, the one she lived in with my dad when they had the dream to retire there. We promised my mom we would move back there this year. It just KILLS me that she isn't going to be able to enjoy that with us. We've been going to look at houses a lot lately, and when we do, I always say that I wish she was with us, because she'd have a blast taking us around to look. And she loved living there so much. I guess a big part of me thought I could save her life if we moved back there...like making her happy would cure her. When she was down about something, I would tell her, "Just hold on, Mom...a few more months."

Ok...I'm done.

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Katie, what you are about to go through is so, so hard because your feeling connected with the house is of comfort. Is there any way to bring some of the comfort with you to your new house? Anything significant at your current home that your dad was a part of you could "transplant" to the new place -- like the tree....did your dad plant it and does it have a small sapling near it (or produce seeds) you could take with you and when the baby tree gets big enough, put the swing in it? Is anything at all like that possible? Special stepping stones in the current yard your dad put in....anything at all like that that you could still feel comforted by at your new home? Anything....some light fixture in the house that has a great memory connection to your dad.....anything.

You're not over analyzing this Katie and this isn't really about materialism. It's not the stuff itself, it's all the life represented by the stuff that we want. Comfort is a cherished part of life -- see if you can find a way to take some of it with you.

Linda

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Katie...I think the idea about taking lots of pictures of your house is a great idea. I don't know if you have time (or interest) in scrapbooking but you could do some interesting pages. Take a picture of some of the special places in your home that you have really special memories of your dad. Add some journaling beside the pictures and then you'll always be able to look at the places that bring back these special memories of your dear Dad.

Can you believe that I am still going through issues with getting rid of Dennis' personal belongings? I have a ton of his things in storage, just because I cannot bear to part with them. These are things that I put there three and a half years ago and haven't looked at since. Still, they are things that meant the world to Dennis. A lot of the stuff has no monetary value, it was just special to him. I am paying almost $200 a month to keep these things. I have to get a different mindset about this and deal with getting rid of it. I think I may donate it, as I feel that would be better than selling it to strangers. I am so glad this topic came up. Maybe it will help me deal with my issues.

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Katie--I have no real perspective or opinion, but I can say that "I get it."

Here I am in the first house I've ever lived in (all our other places were apartments) and my Mom has never seen it. The apartment we lived in before I went to Washington was gone before she died, but it was the last place of ours that my Mom saw. I have memories of her there. Even though I didn't really like that apartment, last week I was wishing I was there because Mom had been there.... And it's always been hard knowing that she'll never see this place or any of the other homes we may live in.

On top of that, my Mom's house isn't going to be my Mom's house anymore. Dad's girlfriend is moving in this summer, and he is doing a major purge of everything. The chairs she sat in, the couches she bought.... the bed she slept in... The knickknacks she loved... The piano she bought when she was going stir-crazy staying home with me and decided to take lessons--they'll all be gone the next time I go back to visit, and someone else's stuff will be there. And it's THAT that has spun me into some of the worst grief-tailspins as of late. It just feels like I am losing so much, so fast. Pieces of my Mom. Pieces of what always used to be 'home.'

So I don't have an opinion on what it might mean when we get rid of things that we tie to our loved ones... But I can totally understand how emotionally charged this transition will be for you.

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I would view it as a practicality. Like you said, not throwing away photos and such which are personal memories, but if you don't need another car or another house, etc, I would think the loved one who passed would want you to sell it and use the money for good. I hope I made sense, I didn't mean to make it sound easy to sell the stuff, b/c I am sure it is not, but I view it as progression I think.

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see if you can find a way to take some of it with you.

I do like that thought very much.

I already have loads of pics of this house and those memories, and I AM a scrapbooker Ann! :wink: so I think when time ever allows me too, I will do just that.

I hope I can "feel" him at the new place like I do here, but if not, I can always go home to moms...it may look completely different there now, but his face stares at me from the fireplace mantle and I "feel" him everywhere there.

Thanks ya'll for letting me vent...I know all of you are going thru alot...thanks for taking the time.

Hugs,

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My turn Katie Just caught this and can relate I think. In a nutshell Material things come and go but memories are Forever.

House $150,000.00

Car & 30,000.00

Clothes $5,00.00

MEMORIES PRICELESS

:wink::lol:

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Hi again Katie,

I misunderstood, I thought the stuff was haunting you..I think its awesome that you feel your dad in your house and its comforting to you..It will probably be hard to leave..

When I moved out of our first home it was really hard to leave all those memories, but they really do stay with you..

Its weird because I have memories of my dad in my house as well but just cant find comfort in them, at least not yet..

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Cathy, you will find comfort in your memories. It just takes time and maybe all we get is comfortable with NOT being comfortable as we moves forward...I don't know.

I believe my mom (all of us really) was very haunted by the memories in her (their) house- that is why after 3 years there is new paint, carpet, furniture, etc...It's a new house in an old shell. She is comfortable with that and her memories are confined to whatever she is comfortable with.

My house is different though- this is where all the "good" things happened with a few exceptions. All parties and events and birthdays and weekend get-to-gethers were held here.. So I do find comfort from the memories here and it will be really hard to leave. I know once it's over I will really be fine...

I guess as long as he stays in my heart, I will have those memories where ever we are...Just like you said. But I also can't help feeling that it is one step further away from him, and a life that once included him.

Life is so hard, but it's so good too.

Hugs ...

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Katie, it won't be one step away from your dad. not at all. I don't feel like I left Dave behind when I moved one month after his death. I took him with me and he's always with me, in my heart, and in Faith's heart. and your Dad will be, too. and like I said about my Dad, you might even see him clearer when it's just him, and not all the material things that remind you of him.

It will be better than you think, I know it will.

hang in there.

Karen

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