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Old 05-08-2016, 06:54 PM
 
Location: Sonoran Desert, AZ
2,850 posts, read 1,167,275 times
Reputation: 6067

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Okay, it's been 6 weeks since my lovely bride of almost 13 years passed away from cancer. I'm doing okay with the "administrative" stuff such as social security, life insurance, bank accounts, car title, credit card, etc. We both knew what was coming and had prepared for it as best as we could.


My struggle is with her personal items: cell phone, email accounts, perfume, clothes, wigs, etc. The clothes can be donated I guess, but many of the items can't be. It seems cold and heartless to just put them in a trash bag and pitch them. But I can't just leave them here because then they are just constant reminders of the loss.


(Some were easy - I gave her bicycle to a friend here on the Big Island, shipped her golf clubs to her favorite niece, sent most of her jewelry to her daughter.)


What did you do with those type of items when you lost a loved one?
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Old 05-08-2016, 07:57 PM
 
3,964 posts, read 5,252,569 times
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My husband died a year and 5 months ago. Here is my advice about all the "stuff" left behind:

If something is painful to see, just put it out of sight for now. The day my husband died, I found his shoes, slippers and robe to be almost beyond enduring. I tearfully put them gently into his closet and closed the door. I moved his wallet, glasses, etc. into the drawer on the night stand. I didn't open that closet door for several months. I couldn't. But that is OK.

Do not feel that there is any rush in getting rid of things. In my experience, it does not make the pain go away to throw everything out. This is going to be a slow process. Give yourself permission to take your own time.

Things that seem to have natural "new place" are easiest to move out. Like the bicycle, some things you just know what to do, and that is fine. My husband had some cold weather clothes, and because it was winter when he died, it felt natural for me to take those jackets, hats and mittens to the local shelter. His wheelchair, walker, etc. were pretty easy for me to donate, as I know there are people in need of those things, and they had no sentiment attached to them, only pain. Best to get them out. There were many other things that didn't seem to have a natural place to go that stayed in the closet.

Some things need to be just thrown out. It took me a while, but I came to the realization that there is no place for used underwear, worn socks, and the shoes in the back of the closet that he didn't wear anymore because they were worn out. I didn't have any emotional attachment to these things, so they went into the trash. It pulled at me a little at the time, but I did it.

My husband had an extensive book collection. It took me several months to consider where these should go. Some were of little value and went to the used book store. Some were of substantial value, and some were irreplaceable. I donated collections to three universities for various reasons. It was a rather long process, but I kept careful records for tax deductions, had appraisals as needed, and ended up with three named collections at places that were meaningful to my husband. I felt these were a fitting memorial to his interests and his efforts in collecting, and I am glad that his name will live on when people use his amazing collection. I still have some left, and I have plans for those.

I kept some clothes that were of sentimental value to me, but I made a place in an "under the eves" store room where they would not take up usable space and I wouldn't have to look at them every day. At some point, I may get back to them, but for now, I will leave them there. (I will mention here that I moved out of state a year after he died, and I purposefully moved these items and found a place to store them in my new house.)

What I am trying to say is that there are different solutions for all the different items, and that you have every right to make those decisions without judgement by others. The time line must be all your own. No one should every say "I would think you would have gotten rid of those" or "why did you do that so quickly." No one else should be judging what is right for you. You will know when it is right to open that drawer or closet. We all need to move on with our lives and not keep a "memorial" by keeping things just as they were, but how and when is all up to you. And some things can be kept as mementos, as remembrances. That is also up to you. Take your time and follow your heart.
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Old 05-08-2016, 10:57 PM
 
Location: Wisconsin
16,491 posts, read 15,940,606 times
Reputation: 38845
Quote:
Originally Posted by G Grasshopper View Post
My husband died a year and 5 months ago. Here is my advice about all the "stuff" left behind:

If something is painful to see, just put it out of sight for now. The day my husband died, I found his shoes, slippers and robe to be almost beyond enduring. I tearfully put them gently into his closet and closed the door. I moved his wallet, glasses, etc. into the drawer on the night stand. I didn't open that closet door for several months. I couldn't. But that is OK.

Do not feel that there is any rush in getting rid of things. In my experience, it does not make the pain go away to throw everything out. This is going to be a slow process. Give yourself permission to take your own time.

Things that seem to have natural "new place" are easiest to move out. Like the bicycle, some things you just know what to do, and that is fine. My husband had some cold weather clothes, and because it was winter when he died, it felt natural for me to take those jackets, hats and mittens to the local shelter. His wheelchair, walker, etc. were pretty easy for me to donate, as I know there are people in need of those things, and they had no sentiment attached to them, only pain. Best to get them out. There were many other things that didn't seem to have a natural place to go that stayed in the closet.

Some things need to be just thrown out. It took me a while, but I came to the realization that there is no place for used underwear, worn socks, and the shoes in the back of the closet that he didn't wear anymore because they were worn out. I didn't have any emotional attachment to these things, so they went into the trash. It pulled at me a little at the time, but I did it.

My husband had an extensive book collection. It took me several months to consider where these should go. Some were of little value and went to the used book store. Some were of substantial value, and some were irreplaceable. I donated collections to three universities for various reasons. It was a rather long process, but I kept careful records for tax deductions, had appraisals as needed, and ended up with three named collections at places that were meaningful to my husband. I felt these were a fitting memorial to his interests and his efforts in collecting, and I am glad that his name will live on when people use his amazing collection. I still have some left, and I have plans for those.

I kept some clothes that were of sentimental value to me, but I made a place in an "under the eves" store room where they would not take up usable space and I wouldn't have to look at them every day. At some point, I may get back to them, but for now, I will leave them there. (I will mention here that I moved out of state a year after he died, and I purposefully moved these items and found a place to store them in my new house.)

What I am trying to say is that there are different solutions for all the different items, and that you have every right to make those decisions without judgement by others. The time line must be all your own. No one should every say "I would think you would have gotten rid of those" or "why did you do that so quickly." No one else should be judging what is right for you. You will know when it is right to open that drawer or closet. We all need to move on with our lives and not keep a "memorial" by keeping things just as they were, but how and when is all up to you. And some things can be kept as mementos, as remembrances. That is also up to you. Take your time and follow your heart.
I am sorry for your loss.

My parents were married 50 years when my mother died. My father followed a similar path to G Grasshopper. Things like medical equipment were quickly donated. Most of her personal things were just put into drawers or into her closet until he, with the help of his adult children could face the task. We did not go through most of her clothes & personal items for well over a year after her death. I wore her winter coat for several years, to help keep her close to me. And when it wore out I clipped off a button which I still carry in my purse, 24 years after her death. My sister wore her favorite scarf, again until it completely wore out.

I agree that you need to take as much time as you need. While I have had friends who discovered later that they rushed into getting rid of things (and got rid of things that they wished that they had kept or done something different with) I personally do not know anyone who felt that they waited too long to go through the things belonging to their loved one.

Good luck.
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Old 05-08-2016, 11:46 PM
 
5,841 posts, read 3,309,517 times
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I'm glad the administrative stuff is going smoothly since you were worried about that originally.

Things like perfume and makeup go bad, and we women throw it out all the time so that's what I suggest you do too.

Don't forget to take care of yourself, and best wishes.
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Old 05-09-2016, 10:24 AM
 
Location: Sonoran Desert, AZ
2,850 posts, read 1,167,275 times
Reputation: 6067
Grasshopper/Germaine/Harpaint - Mahalo for all the kind words and considered advice. For now, I guess I'll take the "out of sight, out of mind" approach for as much as I can.


I have to take a road trip to Hilo today for some of the "admin" things and everyday errands. Maybe tomorrow I'll start boxing up some stuff. This is not a good day for me to stay home by myself all day. It is the 33rd anniversary of the death of my daughter (she was 18 at the time) and even after all these years it is a sad day.


Thanks again
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Old 05-09-2016, 10:53 PM
 
3,964 posts, read 5,252,569 times
Reputation: 4554
In all things, be kind to yourself. Don't push something that hurts.

Blessings and peace to you as you travel this long, sad road.
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Old 05-09-2016, 11:14 PM
 
Location: So. of Rosarito, Baja, Mexico
6,571 posts, read 17,962,548 times
Reputation: 5919
OP, sorry for your loss. I know as have others here the pain of being alone after so many years.

My wife passed away 43 yrs ago from Cancer. There are times I sit alone and think back to the nice days when the kids were small.

Leave some of her thngs out in the open that will give you a lift or a smile .....it is good therapy.

Some personal items just cannot be given away but need to be kept in small drawer or box.

I still have my parents birth certificate from 1908 and 1909 and their old Passports that will probably end up in the trash soon.....my Adullt kids could care less.

Grief is normal that will eventually turn into fond rememberences.

Last edited by Steve Bagu; 05-09-2016 at 11:17 PM.. Reason: correction as to being a woman
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Old 05-10-2016, 12:44 AM
 
Location: SWFL
21,441 posts, read 18,159,189 times
Reputation: 18824
My sympathies, Hoot N Annie.
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Old 05-10-2016, 02:01 AM
 
Location: Sonoran Desert, AZ
2,850 posts, read 1,167,275 times
Reputation: 6067
Steve - Thank you for sharing your story. I can't imagine 43 years. Your wife must have been quite young. God bless.


Tami - I appreciate your kindness. I will get thru this. It just takes time, and you are never the same. (btw, we moved to Hawaii from Mount Dora.)


Mahalo again.
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Old 05-10-2016, 07:24 PM
 
Location: Columbia SC
7,972 posts, read 6,725,053 times
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I went through this just 5 months ago.

I gave her jewelry box to her sister and her daughter (our niece). I kept her wedding and college ring. I wear them along with my wedding ring on a chain around my neck.

I trashed her underwear. I donated her clothes/shoes to Goodwill. She had some good stuff and I hope it helped some woman better herself in life by dressing nicer. It also included an expensive Burberry's rain coat. Great find for someone. She had one old raggy college sweatshirt she treasured (I think from a lost love) so I have kept it.

I have one small box that still has some things in it like her drivers license, death certificate, some other paperwork. Not sure yet what I will do with those things. I cancelled her cell phone, removed the SIM card, and threw it away.

Personal documents, pictures, etc. I have kept and stored them in a closet. Pictures of the family we had out and about the house are still where they were and will stay there.

She had a baseball card collection that I am still not sure what to do with. Even we had discussed selling it.

As I read what I have written, I realize it sounds a bit cold but removing things has helped me move on. As she was ill for some time, we had plenty of time to discuss my life after her and I know she would want me to move on as best I can. One has to do what they and they alone feel comfortable doing.
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