Transitions With Jean Blog

Decades of "stuff" is overwhelming to clear out

October 3, 2021

Oh, Jean..........

You really nailed it with the article about “These are a few of my favorite things”. My husband and I are in our 80s. Forty years ago (when we were in our 40s), he and I fully enjoyed flea markets, rummage sales, and auctions. When we would display our "new" purchases, Mom, then in her 80s, would always say - "Why do you want all that old junk? We could hardly give your Grandma Minnie’s stuff away.”

Thinking back, I still wish I had kept more of Grandma Minnie’s old stuff. I have an entire drawer with all of Grandma’s knitting objects, embroidery work, and homemade aprons. They couldn’t be given away, so Mom kept them, then I inherited them. Now what?

All these things are precious to us! They are our treasures! We’re attempting to downsize - for obvious reasons. Our kids say, "Please don’t leave all this stuff for us to have to deal with". They look - they don’t want - we can’t even sell! Today’s generation only wants new "stuff". We wish we weren’t so sentimental! The fast pace – cell phones - computers - constant updates on everything, have eliminated all the good ol’ days of spontaneous visits with friends & neighbors.

I’m sure there are lots of people in our age bracket who are sitting with their home just chock- full of favorite things with memories. Now what? Just sign me – Can’t Let Go!

Dear Can’t Let Go, “Kids these days” are words that are repeated generation after generation. Apparently, your mom would have said, “Kids these days collect too much junk!” This next generation still enjoys socializing. They are hardworking and busy, so they opt for easy entertaining. You have been to your grandchildren’s house. They have fun. They don’t have a dining room with china, crystal and table clothes, that is work. Instead, they are out on the deck with their lawn chairs, finger food, and disposable dishes.

Your kids are asking you to deal with your own stuff instead of leaving the chore for them. Fair enough. I assure you that they aren’t talking about the drawer of Grandma Minnie’s items. They are talking about the sheer volume of stuff you have collected and won’t let go of. Honestly, at 80 + years, I think your window of opportunity has probably closed. At this point in your life, clearing out a house filled with just plain stuff is overwhelming – both emotionally and physically. The only way it will work painlessly is for you to find your next home (maybe a senior community) and move there. Then, let the kids and/or a professional like me, deal with the contents all at once.

By the way, sixty- and seventy-year-olds, it isn’t too late for you to get at it.

As for Grandma’s items, pour a glass of wine, take out those goodies, give a toast to Grandma and say goodbye. You’ll have the memories, and the love will still be there.

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