” Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action comes, stop thinking and go in.” Napoleon Bonaparte
So, last Monday we handed the keys to my parents home over to the estate sale company. I only slept 2 hours the night before and was not ready for them to descend upon the house the next morning but descend they did. Before I could pack up the bedroom with our clothes, they were rearranging and digging into stuff. Lawson and I were so exhausted, so in a haze, we just left things we intended to bring with us. We attempted to go back and pick up some things this past weekend, but they had a workforce of a dozen or more people and we just didn’t have the energy to deal with it. What has surprised me about this whole process is how gut wrenching it all is. It is just stuff…my parents and plenty of our own mixed in with theirs….but this past week didn’t feel like a relief to have experts pricing items but rather grief revisited. It has been an overwhelming, emotional week! I can hear my mom saying “Susan, you’re letting that go?” Ohhh, my heart! And then there are all the things I packed up already and I wonder if I should have put them in the sale. It is exhausting!
In retrospect, I have done everything the hard way. I, of course, didn’t intend to, but let me offer a couple of things I’ve learned in case you ever must face this process. 1) Don’t wait too long. Give yourself plenty of time but don’t wait more than a year. I had what I thought was a brilliant idea to have family come and take pieces of my parents home with them. While my intention was good and there were moments that made me so very happy in doing this, it extended things long past the time I should have taken. I wouldn’t recommend this approach. I would say to give yourself time and that varies upon the individual but then set a date and let those special to you know when the estate sale will be. 2) Be realistic about what you can keep. There is an incredibly strong pull to keep it all and many people do just add their loved one’s possessions to their own often overstuffed homes and storage units. If there has been one thing that taking longer than I should have has assisted with, it is that the weight of it has helped me be more brutal with this stage. I would also say that when you limit yourself to a certain number of items or whatever method of limiting you use, the things you choose mean even more. 3) If at all possible begin this process long before death. I begged my mom to begin going through things and distributing them years before but it was not something she could do. Sophie has made it clear she doesn’t want us to leave her with this much to deal with (Eve doesn’t want me to let anything go) and I have used that as fuel to keep pushing myself to refine, refine, refine. 4) Lastly, do not wait to do this before a big adventure! That’s just dumb!
This cartoon is so not what I want to be saying to my children! This Australian adventure is certainly about fulfilling a long held dream but also it has pushed us to clarify what is important to our little unit. These months of preparation are grueling but so very necessary to move forward!