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Dispensing with a Loved One’s Possessions…

The material things that belonged to your loved one are treasurable. Whether you place great value on material wealth or are fairly unattached to most things, your loved one’s possessions, those that now belong to you, fall into a different category.

At first you discover you cannot part with anything that belonged to them. Just the thought of separating from their things is unbearable; it is as if you are losing your loved one all over again. Sometimes dispensing with their possessions feels like a final goodbye. This creates the idea that you are facing an impossible task.

So, you cling to their possessions as if your loved one is in these things. You might even maintain a whole room full of their belongings and keep it just so in their memory. You find comfort touching and holding, being surrounded by the physical things that belonged to them.

This is fine. This is normal. Cling to them as long as you need too.

In time, you will realize your loved one is not in their things, any more than you are in your things. How does this happen? When you discover that the emotional connection to your loved one is a byproduct of your thoughts and consciousness, rather than the proximity to things.

You will discover there are much better means of connecting to your loved one.

Here is one possibility: Take a favorite picture of your loved one and frame it. Hang it in a place where your gaze often lands. Every time you see it, reflect on something you love about them.

This simple practice is common in many cultures. It will surprise you with its potency. You discover that it forges a stronger link to your loved one than a whole room full of their things.

For, after all, possessions are material things—no more.

Eventually you come to see that your loved one no longer needs a room; they’re not there anymore. You will come to understand that dispensing with your loved one’s possessions is not a final goodbye. Things only hold the value we assign to them.

Nothing physical is permanent; all things come to an end. Not one thing you own will belong to you in a hundred years; precious few will even exist a hundred years from now. Ultimately, no material possession has any value; the treasures of the Louvre will one day be stardust.

When you feel ready to begin dispensing with their things:

  • From the collection of their wealth, whether it is a whole house full of things or just a few items, separate anything you feel is a token of their love or representative or reflective of who they are. These gifts of remembrance fall into categories: things sentimental to your loved one or to you; a thing that is symbolic of your loved one’s unique character; items they kept close and touched often; something that triggers a happy memory of your love.

  • Choose one, two or three of these items as keepsakes. Do not necessarily go with the most valuable. Trust your intuition to make the right selection for you. 

  • Once you choose, invite other people, family members and friends, to select items from your loved one’s possessions that are meaningful to them. Surprise yourself with how big your generosity can be. 

  • If any of your loved one’s possessions can serve another, it is lovely to gift it to a person or charity. Give away as much as you can (always.) Keep practicing your new-found generosity.

Joy is always returned twofold.

If you discover there are things that you don’t need and can’t use, but still find it difficult to part with them, ask yourself why. If precious memories are associated with a particular item, write these down or take a photo of the item. Make a collage from the pictures, illuminate them in a book of memories, or simply store them in the treasured bank of your consciousness.

Then let the physical item go.

Imagine your loved one applauding this effort. 

Imagine your loved one thanking you for doing a good job.