I had 4 family funerals last summer and 3 this summer (I have a very large extended family).
One of the hardest parts of saying good bye to someone is also deciding what to do with their stuff.
Who gets what? What belongings matter and to whom?
What did they (the person) want done with some of their belongings?
Some people are more intentional about this part of their life (please be one of these people), and plan out who gets what with respect to things of value, whether monetary or sentimental.
But oftentimes there are many things that the family has to decide amongst themselves.
This was the case with my 88 year old Grandmother last Labor Day weekend.
Although she had done a pretty good job of deciding ahead of time who gets what and who wanted what, there were still many items (enough to fill a storage room) to go through.
After the funeral, my uncle emailed me asking if I wanted some of her jewelry. I felt weird saying no to some of my grandmother’s jewelry, so I said yes.
3 boxes showed up and I was quite surprised when I opened them.
They were full of the most amazing, diva, costume jewelry you can imagine from the mid 40s – 60s! I couldn’t believe this, and it was so fun going through it.
Yet, why hadn’t I ever seen any of this when my Grandmother was alive?
Where had she kept it? Why hadn’t she worn it?
It was a side of my Grandmother I had never even knew existed, all this fabulous costume jewelry.
One time I was at her house, about 10 years ago, and we got to talking about fashion in the 6os.
“I still have some pieces in the closet, would you like to see them?” she asked.
I jumped at the opportunity, not because I wanted to score something from Grandma’s closet, but because I wanted to see this side of her.
She pulled out the most amazing, fur collar, 3/4 length sleeve camelhair coat I have ever seen and my mouth was agape and eyes quite bug eyed, I am sure. She laughed and gave it to me.
We often think of our stuff as just stuff, and perhaps alot of it is. Yet there are things we may have that will carry over once we are gone, and be of comfort to someone dear to us.
That is what my Grandmother’s jewelry and coat are to me. They are things I incorporate into my wardrobe (the jewelry year round, the coat any chance I can get once the weather cools). I take comfort in them when I wear them and they remind me of her.
I sometimes think about the outfits she wore with a certain piece of jewelry and the experiences she had.
I don’t advocate justifying a purchase this way, and I think a more meaningful legacy is being able to help those we love and those causes we believe in, yet it does give me pause and make me realize that even though it is just stuff, sometimes these are things that give people comfort once we are gone.