What to do with the stuff after they die

ref0009sMy eldest niece has a friend named Jessica McKimmie. Jess has a blog called Peace Through Grief. The first post, dated, coincidentally or not, on September 11, 2013:

After the sudden loss of my mom last year and the loss of my dad eleven years ago, I’m beginning to consider that maybe, just maybe, I’m here on this earth to talk to others about grief.

And she does, through communing with nature and writing a letter to her late mom.

She had a post a few months ago, Saying Goodbye to Stuff: Six Steps for Letting Go After Loss I found particularly wise, useful, and, oh, so true.

The first idea: “Allow yourself time.” And in particular:

Beware of extremes.

Attempting to immortalize your loved one by leaving everything “just as it was” or storing away boxes to go through at some later date may prolong your grieving process, preventing you from moving forward with your life. On the other extreme, you may have impulses to purge everything right away, wishing yourself to push through or quickly “move on” . This too can be a sign of denial of the magnitude of your loss.

It reminded me of a specific situation that I think played out badly, that might have been avoided with a bit more mutual understanding.

There’s a couple I’ll call Jack and Sandy. They met online, fell in love, got married in fairly short order, much to the dismay of jack’s family. When Jack died of cancer less than a year and a half after the wedding, Jack’s family asked Sandy for some stuff of Jack’s to remind them of Jack, pretty much right after the funeral. Sandy was quite resistant; they had had him for over 40 years, while she had had him less than two, so their demands seemed insensitive and unfair.

My sense is that if Jack’s family had given Sandy more time to grieve, their requests for some of Jack’s mementos would have been better received.
The Art of Presence


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