Saturday, May 27, 2017

The "Blessing" of Inheriting

In the last few blog posts we have been exploring various reasons why it's hard for us to get rid of things. One of them is it's hard to admit that we bought something that is not wonderful, necessary or's hard to admit we have paid stupid tax. The second reason we discussed was we worry that after we get rid of something we might seriously regret that decision and desperately want the item back....we fear regret.  The third and final reason we are going discuss as to why it's hard to get rid of things is we inherited an item (or LOTS of items) that belonged to someone we loved but is now gone and it feels as though getting rid of their things is like getting rid of them all over again.

The feelings are real people. This is not easy stuff.

This problem first came to light for me when I was teaching a Dejunking class for our local community school several years ago. After I gave my presentation I opened the class up for questions and answers and one woman (I'll call her Mary) raised her hand right away. The conversation went something like this:

Mary:  Recently my mother passed away and as her only child it was my responsibility to take care of her house and belongings. I sold her house and the things in it that didn't mean anything to my parents or me. However, everything of any significance, including furniture, photo albums, books, costume jewelry, record albums, dishes and tools that once belonged to my parents are now stacked in my garage. They've been there for 2 years. I have a few of their items in my house that I especially loved but I feel like if I just get rid of everything else out there I would be disrespecting my parents and how hard they worked to acquire all of these things. What should I do?

Kim:  This is a really hard question to answer because the feelings are deep. I completely acknowledge your grief and am so sorry for your loss. However, while you loved your parents tremendously, and they loved you, the thing you need to realize is this: your parents are now in a place where THINGS DO NO MATTER. When they lived here on earth, acquiring possessions was kind of what they did. It's what we all do. But, the reality is, we can't take any of it with us. Your stuff all stays here after we leave this life. It is my belief that your parents, in the realm they now exist in, realize this and they would be horribly sad to know that their possessions were giving you, their beautiful child, any amount of worry, angst, or concern.  If they could communicate with you, I really believe they would say "Mary it's just stuff. Please let it go."

As I said these words, there was a truly peaceful and serene feeling that came over the room. We all knew it was true. Sometimes you have to stop and pause in life and realize what life is about and what it isn't about. And guess what? It turns out it isn't about stuff. It turns out that you can acquire and get and stockpile and collect...and in the end, no mater what, you can't take it with you. It all stays here
and becomes mostly a bother for your children and grandchildren.  
It's true.

So, if you have inherited boxes, bags and piles of things from your parents or grandparents, here is my advice.

1) Realize that they are not going to be offended if you get rid of it. I actually believe it pains them to see you suffering with and trying to deal with their earthly possessions.

2) Pick one or two amazing things of theirs that bring back memories and fit into your lifestyle that you can keep and remember them by and then let the rest GO.  

An example or two from my life:
My Grammee's noodle bowl. 
My Grammee made homemade noodles every Sunday in this bowl. It has some genuine scuff marks and a little crack in it and I love it. 
Every time I see it, I think of my Grammee and how much I love and miss her.

My Grandpa Ross' safety glasses. 
My Grandpa Ross was a hard worker--maybe the hardest I've ever known and I loved that about him. Up until a few years ago when "reader glasses" came into our lives, neither my husband or I wore glasses. But safety glasses are important and these ones are cool. We keep these in my husband's shop and when he needs eye protection, often time he wears these.
Every time I see them I think of my Grandpa Ross and how much I love and miss him.

Silver platter from my husband's Grandma Ogle. 
Grandma Ogle wasn't a super fancy person. She was a farm wife in the green hills of Moscow Idaho. But she was an amazing homemaker and an even more amazing human being. She was kind, happy and completely content with life. I never heard her say a negative thing about anyone or anything.  Every time I see this platter I think of her and how much we love and miss her.

 When Grandma and Grandpa Ogle passed away, her daughter (my mother-in-law) had a brilliant idea. She and her siblings came to the farmhouse in Idaho and cleaned out and took some things that meant something to them personally. Then they placed other nice things in boxes and brought them to our family reunion at the lake. Grandma and Grandpa Ogle's things were laid out carefully on a large table and first, each grandchild/spouse was invited in to choose one or two things from their belongings (Craig and I chose the silver platter). Then, each great-grandchild was invited to come in and take one or two things to remember their Great Grandparents by. 
To say this was a treat would be a huge understatement. 
Each of my six children came through the line and carefully selected one or two things that belonged to Grandpa or Grandma Ogle and they were immediately treasures to them. 

 "Shopping with Cousins"

Of course the girls were excited about the jewelry.

 My ever-practical son Brad chose Great Grandpa's battery powered alarm clock.

 Niece Cassidy chose one of Grandma's sweatshirts.

 Alyse chose a baby item for her hope chest and some jewelry.

Ashley picked a kitchen apron of Great Grandma Ogle's and some green earrings.

And little Carter, who was only 7 at the time, chose Grandpa Ogle's pocket knife...which was carefully tucked away until just recently when we felt like he was old enough to handle it.

This is just one way of handling inherited items that may mean something to us. It worked really well for our family and helped my mother-in-law feel better about not keeping all of her parents' things but instead sharing them with her posterity who also loved her parents. 

The purpose of this blog is to help inspire and motivate you in your quest to keep your home and spaces cleaned out and clutter free so that you can really enjoy and get the most out of life. If you are someone who is bogged down with boxes and piles of things that once belonged to your extended family members, I am begging you to reconsider keeping it all. Instead, choose one or two wonderfully special and valuable-to-you items and let the rest go. Stuff is an earthly thing. You can't take it with you. So don't let it bring you down here and now. Your parents and grandparents would NOT want that for you and neither do I.  Enjoying life today is important. Let stuff go, possess and worry and stumble over less, and you will be happier. I promise.

Special Update

My son Brad is currently serving a mission for our church and sent me this email and picture after I posted this latest article.

So idk if you know but I get your blog posts sent to me via email as
soon as you post them. They are great by the way. And I just read the
latest and i thought it might interest you that the alarm clock is
still sitting by my bed side table.

Love you

Yeah, I'm one happy Mama.


  1. Lovely blog post, as always! Practical and useful information, while understanding the real emotions tied to releasing STUFF. =)

  2. Thanks so much NaDell. Your encouraging words are just what I need to hear!