The Anticrastination Tip Sheet
From Rita Emmett
Author of The Procrastinator's Handbook,
The Clutter-Busting Handbook
Quotes for June
Do not weep for what is lost, rejoice for what you have been given. ---
Loved ones live on
NOT in the stuff left behind
in words they said,
in lives they touched,
and in the happiness we feel
every time we remember them.
--- Rita Emmett, The
Determine what God has given you and take from it what you need. The remainder
is needed by others. --- St. Agustine
Message from Rita
A LEGACY OF "STUFF" (Part 1)
Emails arrive so often describing how -- in addition to all the heart-rending
emotions of a death -- there is the overwhelmed experience of not knowing
what to do about all the "stuff" of a beloved person who has passed away.
One woman wrote that her usually uncluttered home is filled with all the
items she cleared out from her mother's house after her mom died. She said
she often bursts into tears seeing paths through this new clutter in her
house yet she doesn't know what to do with any of it. She was clear that
she did not want or need the stuff but she knew these were things her mother
Another email explained the cost of two storage units filled with items
from loved ones who have passed away. Payments for both units totaled over
one thousand dollars a year, and he wrote that he had not visited them since
he stashed everything into the units over four years ago.
So he is spending money he can't afford on units filled with stuff he not
only does NOT need, he doesn't even remember what is in them.
Sorting through, processing, moving on and getting rid of items after the
death of a loved one is possibly the most difficult work to tackle. Partly
because there is SO MUCH (a lifetime of accumulation), partly because it
renews the deep grief in our hearts and partly because there is an odd feeling
of "I'm keeping this because I love him so if I get rid of these tools that
he loved so much….it might mean I don't love him ….or that he didn't love
me…..or something very convoluted and confusing…."
This is a difficult subject to write about, to read about, to think about
and to live through, but because we are human, it applies to many of us.
So let's face it in this Tip Sheet.
We will break it into several sections because we KNOW that you all do not
like to read long newsletters, but even with breaking it up these will be
longer than usual. So in an effort to keep this not-TOO-long, we will start
today with an excerpt from
The Clutter-Busting Handbook and continue next
month with more thoughts and ideas that we hope will help you or anyone
you know who is in this awful situation of being overwhelmed with "stuff"
after the loss of a loved one.
To start us off, here is the excerpt:
If a loved one has recently passed away less
than a year ago, you may need more time to go by to be able to decide what
to keep and what to get rid of.
When my mother died, we didn’t have the luxury of allowing
much time to pass. Mom lived in a different state and her home had to be
emptied so it could be sold. Otherwise there would have been huge expenses
each month (mortgage, taxes, utilities, home insurance). Also we didn’t
want to risk any damage weather or vandals might do to an unoccupied house.
When I flew to Florida to clear out her place, I brought
my teen-aged daughter Kerry with me. As we sorted through Mom’s treasures,
we laughed and cried sharing favorite memories. It would have been torture
doing this alone. For this kind of difficult and painful work, you need
someone to be with you.
I was lucky to have someone I loved with me, but even a
stranger can be helpful with this tough task. If you don’t know anyone who
can help, call a local church and explain that you need someone with you
as you go through your loved one’s things. Everyone understands what grueling
work this is, and they will find someone to help you.
My helper, Kerry, would question every single thing I wanted
to keep. “Do you really want to pay to ship that home? Do you want to have
it take up space – you know we don’t have a place to put it. Will you ever,
ever use it? What will you do – hide it in a crawl space and pretend that
it brings back memories for you? You’ll pack it away and when you die, I’ll
get rid of it.”
Kerry was very persuasive. She made sense.
Together, she and I decided to get rid of what was junk
to us, keep what we wanted to keep, and set up everything else on display.
Then we invited her friends and neighbors to come over and select things
to remember Mom by or to help themselves to anything they could use or somebody
they knew could use.
We planned to donate anything left over to a worthy cause; then a friend
of Mom’s offered to deliver everything to her favorite charity. Many people
said that Mom’s friend probably would keep lots for herself, but why should
we care? We were happy as long as somebody could use her stuff. We hoped
that most of her stuff would be appreciated and maybe even cherished. It
was that hope that helped me let go of so much.
And so, a short time after my mother died, we got rid of
most of her things. We called home and none of the young newly married couples
wanted the china that Mom had served her holiday meals on before moving
to Florida, and Kerry didn’t
want it either. We gave it away to her friend, Betty, and never once regretted
it. (Kerry said her memories of Grandma are beautiful, her china was ugly.)
Every Thanksgiving, Betty would use Mom's china and it
always brought back memories. So Betty would either call or drop me a note
with a remembered story about Mom. Doesn't it honor my mother's memory more
that someone is using and loving her china rather than having it packed
away in a box? Wouldn't it honor your dad more to have some kid (who can't
afford a fishing pole) using his fishing gear instead of adding it to yours
and having way to much fishing stuff to ever use?
Everyone selected something to keep. Most took only one
thing, and they either use it at holidays or have it hanging on their wall.
Kerry points out that doesn't having my mother's Bible on display in my
bookcase bring back just as many memories as if I had twenty boxes of her
stuff stashed in the crawlspace?
We have not regretted any of the other things we eliminated.
In fact, we don’t even remember what we got rid of that week. But none of
us forget Mom, so trust me, you don’t need a heap of clutter to bring back
happy memories of those you love.
Ideas From Others
Since I met you at the AgStar Women's Seminar in mid-March, I have cleaned
7 closets in our home with one to go! Not only was I looking for something
that I have lost, but I also wanted to "Spring Clean."
Your ideas in your talk and your book are great. I have to admit doing the
closets one at a time when I can fit them into my schedule has been great
and not overwhelming!
PS - Next is the garage!!! YIKES!!!
Please share this Tip Sheet with 2 or 3 friends who would be interested.
And feel free to use this message in your blog or newsletter, as long as
you include my bio and contact info:
Author of The Procrastinator's Handbook,
The Clutter-Busting Handbook and
Manage Your Time to Reduce Your Stress: A Handbook for the Overworked, Overscheduled,
Des Plaines, IL 60018
No trees were destroyed in the sending of this message,
but a significant number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.