Once I realized that what I wanted was not the "norm" for people my age, and that I really no longer cared what anybody thought, I found my perfect little place to rent. Yes, I said rent. I had owned homes as I noted in the first part of this story and that was what I needed then but not really what I needed now. My children have grown and they all have homes which I enjoy going to. It was time to let go.
I let go of the control of family gatherings. I enjoy having them at my children's home. It nice to watch them grow as families and start their own traditions. I let go of stuff. How many of one item does any human being need? The holiday decorations were the first to go. I saved only the items that had meaning to me and gave the rest to the kids to sort before donation.
All the the childhood memories I kept in boxes I gave to each of my kids to sort through on their own. My job as the memory keeper was finished. I was never one to hold on to a lot of clothing but it needed some trimming too. The next items to evaluate were " family heirlooms". I have a few things that are special to me but the ones that weren't I gave an option to my kids and if they didn't want them they were donated. I use my mother's China EVERYDAY instead of waiting for 3 times a year. The kitchen was last and easiest for me. One of everything with the exception of baking pans and casserole dishes. I also use the silverware given to me by my mother EVERYDAY. I set up my workroom in the loft of my apt and I only have one bedroom.
What? Is she crazy? Doesn't she want to pass down things generation to generation? Why is my answer. Unless you are leaving land ( which their not making any more of ) I don't see any reason. It's just STUFF. I lost all my family- mother, father, brothers by the time I was 45. People are important, stuff is just stuff. People who have a enormous amounts of it seem to be doing one or more of the following:
A) always looking for it
B) worried about others taking it
C) cleaning it
D) wanting more
You get the idea. Oh and one more thing- I hate to break it to you but your kids don't want your stuff. It may be painful to accept but if your heirlooms have meaning to you then enjoy them everyday. Talk to your kids about your stuff. If they like something then why not give it to them now instead of waiting until your death? When people are grieving is not the best time for them to divide items among them. Feelings are raw and emotions are high and you expect your children to sit down and rationally sort through everyone of your items?
I think we can all remember a family we know that this did not work for following the death of a parent, uncle, grandparent, etc.
I found it freeing. Freeing of my time, worry, emotion. I found it to be a very peaceful to purge. Just a thought………
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After this month you will not see Christmas crosses until the fall.
Now that the New Year is here we can all reflect on the year past. For some of us that year was riddled with the pain of losing someone in our lives that we loved. That loss created an enourmous hole in the year that can’t be repaired. The first year after a loss every holiday is a painful reminder of that loss.
My personal experience is just one example of holidays and grief. My oldest brother died a few weeks before Christmas of 1980, my middle brother died on my birthday in 2004, my youngest brother on New Years Eve of 1999, and my stepfather on my wedding anniversary of 1994. There have been other losses ( mother, grandmother, father ) which had nothing to do with any particular holiday but there wasn’t a “holiday reminder” of their date of death. In other words the date they died would go by each year and I would forget the actual date of over time. When you lose someone you love on a holiday or date of celebration it changes that holiday or celebration date forever.
At first I actually thought the holiday date was about me and what I had lost. I now see that that was such a ridiculous, self centered way of thinking. I made of choice of celebrating their lives on the holiday or celebration date they died. I couldn’t change what had happened, and I couldn’t change the date of my birthday, Christmas, New Years, or my anniversary but I could change how I celebrated their memory on those days. I could be grateful for every holiday spent with them and I could be grateful for the opportunity to keep them alive in my heart on those days, and grateful for my own life.
I couldn’t change dates but I could make a choice as to how I honored my love and memory of their lives. Maybe that is why although I have never been a huge fan of New Years Eve but a loyal fan of a New Year. A new year to begin again with memories of their lives not their deaths. A grateful heart for having them as part of my life story.
Everyone has beliefs about death and the life ever after. I believe that a death should be a celebration of one’s life. My “middle brother” died a horrible death from alcoholism, cirosis of the liver, and throat cancer. I made sure his funeral was to celebrate the 45 years he was here on this earth as a son, brother, and yes to some, a drinking buddy.
His life was important and his presence on this earth touched others in many ways, some good, some bad. I celebrated every year of his life with 45 white balloons launched by everyone at his gravesite service to symbolize the years he lived. I spoke and told a few funny stories because humor can relieve the stress that grief creates.
There are always funerals that no humor can be found, a death of a young person, child, or infant. That is pain that can only be relieved in tears. When my oldest brother passed in a freak accident at the age of 24 there were no funny stories as it was Christmas time and shock was the only emotion we could manage.
My youngest brother drank himself to death at 37 years old and again I told some stories at his gravesite, some funny, some stupid, some that included mourners in attendance.
I don’t find death funny in any form but life sure is. I am all too aware that I am but a human life in a story created by my time on this earth. I want my life to have meaning but above all else I want some humor at my death. Maybe a funny story or two ( nothing too embarrassing I hope ) and a celebration of my life, yes that sounds good to me.