As we near the end of life, we often think that we have to give away our possessions. We believe that our loved ones and friends want our prized mementos– the artifacts of our life. Is giving away our possessions an act of love from us or a burden of love for the recipient? My relatives have always given away their possessions to others—sometimes in mass. I am the only child of my parents. My grandparents only had a few grandchildren. I have one aunt and one cousin. I am from a small family. A lot of my relatives have passed away, and I have a lot of their possessions. Sometimes these possessions are treasured memories, but more often they are things I can’t part with because my relatives wanted me to have them.
So many of the items I have from my deceased relatives are not things I would ever purchase for myself. They are not things I would even choose to have in my home. They are items that my loved ones felt were so important that they needed to find them a good home, when they could not longer care for them.
After 16 years, I still have my mother’s wedding dress. My mother’s marriage was not a happy one and no one else will wear this dress. So, why is this dress taking up space in my garage? This dress has never felt like something I wanted, and I didn’t even consider wearing it for my wedding. However, I felt it was my duty to be its guardian. I think it is time to let go of the dress, and the belief that it is important to my mother that I keep it?
Before my grandmother moved to a smaller assisted living location prior to passing away, she put together bags and bags of her things that she wanted me to take to my home. They were all valuable to her, purchased in far away places, and something I “had to” hold on to. One of these items is a vase from Italy. I have never liked this vase, but I have it in my home today. My grandmother thrust it upon me with such fervor 10+ years ago. It was so important to her that I take it then, and now I can’t seem to part with it.
Maybe the loving thing for us to do is to limit the possessions we give to/ask our family and friends to “have,” and be ok with anything that happens to them after they leave our care. The items that are important to me are the ones that contain true memories of my loved ones. These items can put a smile on my face. It isn’t having a lot of things, but just one or two that I can keep as a physical reminder. When I die, who is going to want those items? They aren’t going to hold the same memories for my loved ones. They will just become a burden to someone else. I hope I will not create that burden for my loved ones.