One of my favorite stories about emptying the family home was told to us by one of the people we interviewed in the course of writing our book (Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home). Here is her story:
We waited to empty my mother-in-law’s house until after she was settled in the nursing home, but I think we waited too long. We had ample time to go through the house at a leisurely pace, but by that time she was no longer able to communicate. I’m sure there were stories to go along with a lot of the ‘junk’ we were sifting through, but there was no one to tell us the stories. I guess the ideal situation would be to have the owners of the house there when things are being sorted.
At first reading, this may seem like an unusual choice for a favorite story. But to me it goes to the heart of why it’s important to tell our stories.
The poignancy of this anecdote illuminates exactly why we should tell our stories and when: We should tell our stories when we are still able to tell them, of course, but especially during the stressful time of emptying a family home and especially when making a distressing change in the life of a family such as when a family member needs constant care and moves to a nursing home.
People tell their stories for many reasons.
Randy O. Frost and Gail Skeketee, in their book Stuff, say that, for hoarders, telling their stories helps lessen the connection to the object and allows them to let it go.
A friend of mine, a professional home organizer, encourages her clients to tell their stories because she finds that in telling them, her clients define who they are to themselves and to the world. (More about her downsizing lessons in a later post.)
In a post last week, my coauthor asked for humorous stories of downsizing, stories that can lighten the mood and help give one perspective on the downsizing process.
Tell your stories now, every day, so that your children and grandchildren will know what is important to you. They’ll know why you’ve kept the things you have and why these things help define the person you are.
Filed under: childhood home, decluttering, downsizing, downsizing the home, family history, Favorite Downsizing Stories, getting rid of stuff, organizing, sentimentality about things, share your stories, workable strategies | Tagged: childhood home, creative strategies for downsizing the home, decluttering, distributing family items, downsizing, downsizing the family home, downsizing the home, dpwnsizing, emotional issues in downsizing the home, emptying the house, getting rid of stuff, getting rid of things, keepers v. throwers, organizing, professional organizers, Randy Frost, share your stories, talking about downsizing, workable strategies |