Lately I’ve been working with a lot of clients who were suffering under the weight of inheritance clutter. A family member died and they felt stuck under the weight of the entirety of their parents, partner’s or siblings stuff. They felt like they should be able to figure how to take care of it, but they didn’t have the strength or clarity.
I told one of my clients that the grief shuts us down in a big and surprising way. That combined with the feeling that letting go of the deceased person’s stuff is like letting go of the person, makes it hard to move forward. My client opened up and revealed, “I feel like if I let go of any of their things, I’m killing my parents.”
I said that her parents were already gone. She wouldn’t be hurting them. But by hanging on to their stuff, she was hurting herself.
My client said that she also wanted to hang on to their stuff to preserve their legacy. I said that she is their legacy. She came from them. She is their living legacy. By taking care of herself and letting go of her parent’s stuff, she is honoring her parents in the most loving of ways. She liked hearing this perspective.
The reason I’m writing about this today is so you can think about what will become of your things after you die. How can you show the ultimate kindness to your loved ones who will remain after you go? How can you prevent them from having to deal with being buried alive under your belongings?
I encourage you to take a look at your stuff as a whole. All of it will become the property of your loved ones when you go. They will be feeling grief and loss. At the same time they will be overwhelmed with what to do with your stuff. I’ve seen people struggling for years about what to do with the inheritance items. What can you do today to prevent that from happening?
The great thing about decluttering now to prevent this greater grief for your loved ones is that you benefit today from removing the clutter. You’ll feel the relief that comes from looking for and removing what doesn’t serve you. Your life will feel lighter. And your heart will benefit from knowing that when it is your time to go, you’ve leaving a great gift your family. They’ll still feel grief at losing you, but they will be spared the great suffering of being overwhelmed with what to do with the bulk your stuff.
(This is a re-post from 6 years ago. I’m sharing it again because this issue is coming up for a lot of my recent clients. And in some ways I’ve experienced it myself with the passing of my mom a few weeks ago.)