After learning that my friend died a week ago, I wondered what I had to remember her by. Keepsakes are precious and the one I have from her is a tiny tile she brought back from Delft in her Dutch homeland.
Along with my grandmother’s nurses cap, my son’s framed art, and my one photo album, that tile is among the things that will likely stay with me forever.
You read that correctly by the way. I only have one photo album.
Trust me. After twenty some years working in the funeral business you really can’t take it with you, and those who try to, make it really damn hard on their family.
The burden of leaving a huge pile of stuff for your loved ones to sort through after your death equals a crap load of emotional guilt when they realize that they too, can’t possibly save your precious memories.
Like I said, I have one photo album. When I moved into my current home, I realized just how much I had stashed away during the eight year stay we had at our previous home. I didn’t want to burden my child with having to sift through over 30 albums of meaningless photos should anything happen to me (and it will). Photos were paired down to one album for myself, and five for the kid.
I kept at least one photo of each of my favourite people. When I open that album, which is rarely, my memories come flooding back. I remember how far I’ve come, who I loved and who loved me back. I don’t need a multi-volume album collection to remember the most meaningful moments in my life.
What I cherish from the days at that old apartment are the memories. The feeling that I get, no matter how foggy the details, thinking of the time I spent parenting my favourite person in the world. Nothing can bring those times back.
I’m ready to go. As far as my stuff goes anyway. What I mean is, there’s not a hell of a lot I’m attached to. Almost everything of sentimental value fits inside a small trunk that I use for a coffee table. The rest I hold in my heart.
Despite priding myself on my eclectic home, which is filled with framed art created by my friends, and special momentos, I really have very little stuff that I’m attached to.
More important than decluttering is the realization that the things that are special to me are connected to memories that are unique to me. Very few things hold meaning for anyone else, so why should I burden anybody with sorting through meaningless stuff?
Pass down your stories, not your stuff.
Offer your sentimental items to someone who may also have an emotional appreciation for them. Donate anything that someone else would be grateful to have and use. If you must, photograph the things that break your heart to part with but didn’t make the final cut, and load them in an album to look at when you need to reminisce.
Let your lightness lift you to new places and spaces.