My Mom’s estate sale was this past weekend. It was another layer of letting go, and it wasn’t easy–not that I thought it would be.
Things are not special. They wear out, rust, decay and break.
But the memory of special times you had together while using a particular thing IS special. And I can’t count the number of things I pulled out of Mom’s house while preparing for the sale that held special memories for me. I could make a long list of those things, but that’s another post–probably for my author blog.
Today I want to share the 10 things I’ve learned since December 15th, and how to help other couples prepare for the inevitable.
Here they are in no particular order:
- Make a will. This is especially important if you have children. If something were to happen to both of you, your children would become a ward of the state until guardianship could be established. Can you imagine how that would affect your children after losing both mother and father? The best way to have peace of mind in this regard is to just do it.
- Label all your necessary keys and throw away those that are no longer in use.
- Things with special meaning should have notes attached to them or be listed in a place where your family can find them. I found a few things where Mom had written a note on the bottom or back telling us who it belonged to. Had she not done this we would have most likely thrown the item away. Instead it holds a place of honor.
- Do regular clean-outs of your drawers and closets and get rid of things that are broken or worn-out.
- As you age give your special things to your family members while you’re still alive. It has such a happier meaning for them when they can remember when it was that you gave it to them along with why you wanted them to have it. Rather than it being handed to them after your death.
- Make a legacy drawer complete with all your important papers and the location of all lock-boxes and bank accounts.
- Make a list of all your current internet connections and passwords and keep it in your lock-box. Make sure you update it often for changes.
- Say “I love you” every time you depart. You never know when it may be your last.
- Be sure your salvation is in Christ alone. There is no greater hope than knowing death doesn’t have the final say. I will see my Mom again, and this fact causes me great comfort.
- Live each day with eternity in view. Most of us don’t like to think about things that make us sad, but doing this one thing will help us remember what really matters…and it’s not things!
How many things on this list have you done? Are you willing to do what it takes to prepare for the inevitable for the sake of your loved ones? It will speak your love to them in a way nothing else will.
I second these thoughts. My mother just passed away this past year, and my sisters and I had a very hard time cleaning out her house and sorting through her things. She had labeled many things, which was helpful, but the sheer enormity of the task makes it difficult, even under the best of circumstances. Debi’s points are wise, and well written- thank you for publishing them.
Thank you, Faith. It helps to hear from those who are walking this same road.
We’re walking through this process of setting things in place with Rob’s mom and dad right now. (His Dad’s health is fragile – we had a scare at Christmas and Rob quickly went up to Canada.)
You have such a great list here, Debi. I especially like the idea of adding “memories” to each item that is precious. Extended family may forget the stories – so having it written down for the special items is so valuable. I’m going to begin that now for my kids, because they won’t know the stories associated with certain items.
I’m an only child of an only child. My dad passed when I was 21, and my widowed grandmother (his mom) died shortly thereafter. My mom – the daughter-in-law – is the only one who knows some of the stories to go with the pictures/items. It’s so important to document. Otherwise we lose our history – and the record of all the blessing God has provided. (that’s why I love your book, Debi. You’ve honored your legacy.)
It’s so good that you’re doing this while you still have time. I’m so glad I finished my book in time for my Mom to enjoy it. It is our legacy. Now to start going through our things…
The other thing I would add, is if one has children be sure there is a message stating where the children should go and with whom. Also animals. If a family is broken up by death letting go of loved animals too could be too much for a child.
(our neighbor died unexpectedly as a single mom and we had to a) tell her children who were 12 and 14 at the time with the police officer b) figure out who was going to take them c) find recent phone numbers for family members) There needs to be ONE place that has all necessary information.
Good points, Sharon!
This is great, as usual, Debi. When we cleaned out Bob’s dad’s house and discovered that he did not have a will, we took care of that. One thing that was precious to him was a particular clock. He wants it to be passed down and designated the recipient. I had him dictate the story of how he got it and typed it up. He found the clock during WWII while de-booby trapping an abandoned house. Pretty cool.
My father passed away a few months ago and my husband and I learned SO much from that experience. One of the first things we did was increase our life insurance policies and updating our will and living trusts are coming next. I hadn’t thought about labeling things but you’re right, that would be so helpful to those who will come after us to help give (or sell) our things away.