Years ago when my grandmother passed away, I inherited many beautiful things that I enjoy to this day. However, I also was given items I knew I would never use. For a long time I kept these pieces, and they plagued me.
I felt guilt over not receiving them with joy. I worried what my mother would think if she learned I no longer had them. (Would she notice? Would she ask?) And wasn’t I being wasteful by not using these perfectly functional pieces? They became a weight to my spirit, and they clouded the memories of my grandmother.
Eventually, I gave away what I wouldn’t use. Part of me felt relief and part still felt guilty. My actions seemed like a betrayal of my grandmother, but then a wonderful thing happened. I began using her crochet hooks.
My grandmother did beautiful work with a crochet hook—doilies, blankets, baby clothes, intricate tablecloths. She was amazing, and as I began to use her tools, I began to think about her differently. I remembered the times she worked the same design. I remembered the joy she had in giving to me the same style blanket that I would now make and give to someone else. My guilt vanished and a new connection to my grandmother emerged.
If you’re dealing with loss, or know someone who is, and the burden of things seems to be overshadowing the relationship, consider these steps:
- Keep the items you truly love.
- Keep one or two items you may not use but are unique to your loved one. (We have a violin form used by my husband’s grandfather. We’ll never use the form to make a violin, but it is a fascinating reminder of who his grandfather was.)
- Look for a tool you can use that reminds you of your loved one. Did she like to cook? Keep her monster mixing spoon or her whisk. Did he like to work on cars? Keep his wrench set or his tire pressure gauge. Find something you can use and keep it. Every time you use it, you’ll feel a connection.
- Finally, know your loved one wouldn’t want to weigh you down. People who truly love us want only what is best for us. They wouldn’t want us to keep a lot of things we can’t use. Give the other pieces away to charity and enjoy the treasures you have.
Do you have some tips for dealing with loss and the burden of things? How have you coped? What did you decide to keep and why?
Practical Living Tip of the Day–Keep family traditions alive or rediscover them by learning the skills of your ancestors.