Following my mother’s death in 1995, I had the task of sorting her estate. Mother not only left a horse, burrow, and two cats, she left behind forty years of household belongings.
Years prior to her death, I encouraged Mother to sort through the attic, basement, crawl space, closets, and garages that bulged with mementos, furniture, tools, equipment, canned food, unfinished projects, and dozens of gallons of saved water. Carefully preserved prom dresses, stuffed with tissue, hung in attic bags, perhaps awaiting the next festive occasion. I had challenges, yet learned important lessons during this process.
Clutter disguises emotions.
In Mother’s case, perhaps clinging to possessions was comforting, as she endured the Great Depression.
Clutter may offer a bulwark against the unknown future.
Clutter may veil loneliness.
However, clutter may simply be the result of a distracted life.
During the past decade, one of my missions included assisting area seniors sort through clutter in an effort to promote personal autonomy. Most clients were widowed women who made decluttering a priority. They were determined to make changes. I guided them through both easy and tough decisions. We ploughed through, sometimes for a few years, always succeeding. Often we had fun. Sadly, many of these clients moved to the next stage of life, yet family members always find me and convey sincere gratitude. The transition was made with dignity.
It takes commitment to address clutter. It is a process. Sometimes it takes an objective outsider to support difficult decisions. Yet the lessons learned from my mother’s home and gentle clients who followed, affirm the fact that clutter is just stuff and should not stand between one’s true self, family, or the hereafter.
Copyright © 2011 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved