Two weeks ago, I wrote about how hoarding ends up costing us more time and money. I loved reading all of the comments, and it’s obviously something we all struggle with. I just wanted to share a little bit of my personal tragedy this year and how beneficial it’s been for me not to turning to overspending, shopping, and hoarding belongings.
This past January, my mom committed suicide. She babysat my daughter on January 5th, we gave her hugs and told her we loved her, and then on January 6th she drove off a cliff. She’d been struggling with a bi-polar disorder for quite some time, but it’s still hard to have her die without explanation, or even a goodbye.
When a family member or loved one passes away without any warning, there’s often quite a bit of personal items that need to be sorted through and gotten rid of.
How do you deal with it? What do you do when you’re facing a tough life event and want to overspend, shop, or hoard your way to comfort?
Keep Memories, Not Stuff
This was something my family and I had to face. My mom didn’t wear a lot of outfits, so every shirt I put in the Goodwill bag came with a memory of her. I literally felt like every memory of her was being thrown away in a bag. I was tempted to take a few pieces of her clothing home just so I could have that little something to hold on to.
But I’m glad I didn’t keep anything. In a situation like this, it can be painful to get rid of that stuff, but it’s even more painful to hang onto it. If I had her shirts hanging in my closet, I’d be constantly reminded of her death.
Keeping her belongings would always stir up the anger that she had left me and her sweet granddaughter. Instead, I put two pictures of our best memories with her into frames. Some days they make me sad, but they serve better as a reminder of how she lived rather than how she died.
You’re Not Throwing Away Love
Throughout the year, everything connected to my mother has been hard to get rid of or sell, even though I’m not the type of person who’s usually attached to items.
For example, she gave me some books and a purse for Christmas. The thing is, I just don’t have a need for them, but it seemed wrong to sell or give away the last gifts my mother will ever give me. But I had to remind myself that these things are just items. They don’t hold special memories or meaning, and it is not realistic to keep them around for years.
One more item I had trouble parting with was a huge print I had made of my mom for the funeral. Again, it felt wrong to just toss it, but I had to remind myself that I wasn’t throwing away my love or memories for her.
It wasn’t practical to store this huge picture, and it was too depressing to keep it. Was it painful to throw it away? You bet! Honestly, it would have been more painful to keep it. Stuff may just be stuff, but it can have powerful control over us.
Its not easy to get rid of clutter, or keep yourself from buying things you don’t need. But once you get it out of your home and life, it’s amazing how much freer you feel emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Free Yourself From Emotional Ties
Whether your stuff has emotional ties to it or not, I just wanted to share that I understand how hard it is to get rid of stuff. However, I also understand how much better my family and I are for getting rid of it. My experience with losing my mom so suddenly would have brought a lot more negativity and lack of productivity by holding on to the unnecessary items.
Yes, you may only get pennies for items you paid a lot of money for, or perhaps you’ll experience pain and guilt for throwing away or giving away special items. But the freedom you receive from a clutter-free home is worth it. Of course, hang on to the truly special items and photographs, but get rid of the stuff that’s just stuff.
Spend your time and money on experiences, and hold onto the memories, but free yourself from the emotional ties of shopping, spending, and hoarding.
Have you struggled with overspending or hoarding issues after a difficult life event? How did you overcome this?