The death of…


… someone you love.

…a relationship.

.. a job.

… a home.

…a time in your life.

…your stuff.

There’s no doubt that death is final.  And confronting.

In the past weeks, I’ve been working with clients who’ve experienced major changes through death of a loved one.  It’s made me consider how death is really is the only one truly inevitable moment in our lives.  And even if a loved one is unwell or elderly, nothing actually prepares you for the moment they die.

There’s also the end of an era (your children leaving home), the end of a career (retirement), the end of your home (a fire, flood or other event) or the loss of your belongings due to theft or loss (I still mourn my green and black coat left on a plane).

Of course, we all have personal experience of these events.  And sharing experiences is a valuable way to heal.  Has the death of a loved one impacted you? How did you deal with their belongings?  How did you deal with YOUR belongings (for example, the photos of your time together, love letters etc).  Or have you had a moment when letting go of the physical items helped you heal and move on? How long did the process take?  Have you grieved for lost belongings?

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

(this post inspired by Hellen Buttigieg, thank you Hellen)

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7 responses to “The death of…

  1. Because of the finality of death, the knowledge that they are not coming back, clearing away from precious reminders should not be rushed. Hide things if you will but don’t rush into disposing of articles until the grief has reached a natural plateau. Having a hope in the Biblical idea of the resurecction has certainly helped me deal with past and very present grief but it does not stop MY loss for now. I need to take MY time and not be rushed by the grieving times or expectations of other people. Ignoring our own need to grieve pelletises and hides the emotions which makes sure that the damge they do down the track is a lot worse than if they had been dealt with at the time or for however long was necessary. Acute grief may last for just a few months but equally may take a few years, depending on the emotional sensitivity of the one who is left. I can’t speak in the first person right now as even after a month I am not fully accepting my loss. Cherrie

    • Cherrie, I am sorry to hear your loss is so fresh, and I understand about not fully accepting. You are right that the process cannot be rushed, indeed the process is also very different from person to person. I hope you have good support around you and continue to do so.

      Recently I’ve been (unintentionally) tardy with sending sympathy cards, but haven’t worried too much- grief doesn’t have a time limit. I figure it’s ok to to still express sorrow after the initial wave of support.

      • For most people the restarting of tears when a new card comes is actually helpful. Just so long as you let them know that you care -verbally or otherwise. I had a few so called friends who had benefitted greatly from my mother’s support who never said a single word about her death to me, just acted as if that period had never happened. I think that is the worst thing. People need to be able to grieve, feel sorry for themselves, angry, etc and then let go as they can.To be ignored in the way I was means you never fully let go. Thanks for your post. It was really good to have another cry though I know it won’t be my last. Cherrie

  2. Thank you Lisanne, for this very timely post. I agree that sharing experiences is a valuable way to heal, and it warms my heart to see this happening through our online community. Virtual strangers supporting each other. It’s a beautiful thing.

  3. Lissanne, I think among the worst things that can happen with someone’s stuff when they die is that valuable or useful items languish in a hot, dirty garage, or their loved ones are guilt-ridden over parting with the most benign items that were not even necessarily special to the dearly departed. As for me, I USE and ENJOY my mom’s things –some of them, not all of them — in my daily life. As we discussed offline, here is my blog post on the subject: http://bit.ly/Asr7Zu

  4. Cherrie, I think tears are always good – holding emotion is can’t be healthy. Hazel’s post above gives some good ideas about how you might be able to use and honour some of your loved ones items once they’re gone. And thanks again to Hellen for the inspiration for this post!

  5. One year since my beloved dad died. During that time my frail mother had to be placed into residential care and as the only daughter it was my role (and sort of privilege) to caress and/or cull every single item remaining from their 55 shared years.
    It helped a lot with my grieving. Grieving the death of my dad, the loss of ‘home’ for me, easy access to my mum, all sorts of changes.
    Unexpected laughter and sometimes the burst of snotty tears as I combed through things.
    I assess my ‘stuff’ differently when I ask myself ‘what will I cull to make room for these treasures?’ Things I once loved are easier to toss when it’s a matter of making room for the older treasures from my past.
    I wear dad’s watch daily. It looks butch but I don’t care, it was made to be worn and it’s special to me! I use mum’s tea towels but have yet to take to ironing them as she did! Some of them will be repurposed into a fabbo skirt for my adult daughter who will wear it with style and flair!
    Of all the bits and bobs, I think dad’s cameras are most special to me. I have his first and his last camera. Plus photos from the first which he processed, crouching in a ‘darkroom’ beneath his mother’s bed! And the final, digital pictures he took just days before he died. I feel like he stands close beside me when I look at them now, I know what he was thinking without having to hear words.
    I think that’s what’s most special….these heirlooms and stuff are like unspoken words to me from the generations who went before. Not only valuable stuff like jewellery, but the intimate stuff like what they read, what they listened to (Acker Bilk, give me strength!) and what they liked looking at. The memories are in my head, but it’s wonderful to have things to hold in my hand.

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