The day she left us her room was organized nicely with only a few touches of imperfection. A small pink sweater thrown on to the tiny rocking chair she once rocked her baby dolls in. A few pieces of the small china tea set were still laid out for all of her stuffed friends to enjoy. Her clothes size 4T still hung in the closet as a reminder that she would never grow beyond that size. I never thought that these precious little things she so adored would be the last thing she ever played with here on earth. I never thought I’d have to deal with the topic of letting belongings go after a death, especially over my own child.
As time passed I started to come out of the shock and denial of her death. I never wanted to believe it, I couldn’t but now I knew she was never coming back. We would never celebrate her sweet 16 or argue with her about boys that she wanted to date. I would have given anything to have the chance to ground her for making poor choices in her teens. Instead I buried her at the tender age of 4.
Reminiscing Over Their Things
For a long time her room remained the same. I couldn’t even move the pink sweater. For in its imperfection of being so carelessly strewn across the rocking chair, it was the most human thing about her that remained. In my mind it would stay like that forever. I could not move it, I couldn’t touch it for it would disturb her presence. She was so full of life and love and it all changed so quickly.
The thought of ever putting away her toys and getting rid of her “big girl bed” was excruciating. So it remained in tact and sat there as though it was a shrine dedicated to her memory.
Time to Let Go
As life went on another life change occurred that would need to uproot the family from the little house where she lived her short life. The place where all the memories were held, for better or worse. The thought of leaving that all behind once again brought up the need to address what to do with her stuff. I knew that for our family to live a full life and heal and be healthy I would need to let go of some of it. It was as excruciating as I anticipated the change. But in a lot of ways it was also healing because it reminded me that her memory will go on and it will grow within our family in a way that she could not physically.
That little pink sweater has been sewn into a sweet teddy bear that I will carry with me always. Each family member kept something of hers to remember her by or to pass on to their children.
Suggestions on Letting Belongings Go After a Death
Even though their physical presence doesn’t remain, I am convinced that people never really die when they have made such an impact. If you or a loved on is struggling with letting belongings go after a death, here are a few things to remember. I hope it is helpful.
- Remember to do everything in your own time. There is no need to compare your grieving to others because everyone grieves in their own way.
- There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping some things of theirs even if it doesn’t make sense.
- When you are getting rid of things, seek out a family or a child who can give new life to the item. The item may become so special to the new person that your loved one’s memory can be carried on.
- Keep some of the most sentimental items and turn them into a keepsake of some sort. For example; turning the sweater into a bear. There are many little companies on the internet who specialize in these types of products.
- Remember that things are only that. The memory of your loved one will live on even without any of their material things.