Friday, May 21, 2010

Purguing Out the Old

This afternoon I got rid of some heavy pieces of furniture in one of two of the storage sheds. Tomorrow the smaller shed will be cleared out and I'll be saving almost $200.00 monthly that can go toward clothing and items for the boys.

I'm feeling bittersweet about the clean-out. I called a local resale shop to inquire if they'd come to the shed to pick up the items and they did. I am grateful because without a strong guy/husband around it is hard for me to lift and move big, bulky objects. And there is just no room in the apartment for all the furniture I used to have in my home.

They took the large pine chest of drawers with mirror that used to be in my master bedroom. Then the headboard for the bed I spent months choosing when I first got married. It was between an all-white cottage bedroom or a more rustic, cabin-lodge feel room. I ended up choosing the later and the headboard was made out of actual logs. The woman from the resale shop really liked it. But it pulled at my heartstrings a little to let it go. A memory of the life I once shared with my husband when my family and I were intact in our nice, spacious, five-bedroom cabin-like home. When I got remarried I purchased a new bed, in fact, an inexpensive bedroom set to celebrate my new life and new beginnings. I'd hoped to use the log headboard at a second home if we got a little cabin on a lake in our retirement...

Also going - the boys' youth firetruck beds. Adorable beds in the shape of firetrucks and actually pretty realistic. I asked the boys if they wanted to keep them for the future but they weren't interested. They're awfully cute and I hope some lucky little boys will enjoy them in the future.

The nice lady from the resale shop walked around my shed and picked at the remaining items. She said she'd take anything there and got some birdhouses and seasonal wreaths. I told her I'd bring over my old Halloween and Christmas outdoor decorations over the summer. It was good to know that I did have some nice furniture and decorations. I'm trying to psyche myself up that it is better to pass these things on where they'll be put to use now and enjoyed vs. being hidden away in a mice-infested storage shed.

I regret giving away my nice green glass-fronted kitchen cabinet - it was so cute. But again, there is no room for it in the apartment and I can't just keep storing everything away for the future, whenever and wherever that may be.

I'm telling myself that releasing these items allows new items (maybe even better) to enter my life. It will be best to purchase a new bed when I start living at a new place and hopefully when I start sleeping on a regular basis with a partner again! I can always get a new curio cabinet to display my pretties and it will be fun to search for a different style that may fit better in a new home. As for the firetruck beds, maybe my sons will end up only having daughters who'll only want princess theme bedrooms!

Part of what I reflected on this afternoon was how hard it has been to lose my home (and possessions) after the death of my husband. His death involved the huge loss of my emotional and financial stability. The home then represented the very foundation of my life - all the safety and security from the ground up. Losing both has rocked my world literally from top to bottom, inside and out.


  1. It's funny, I was thinking of doing the same thing this weekend. If I'm going to move I need to empty out our storage unit, and go through each room in the house. I'm feeling a bit stressed about it, because I still have a lot of Michael's things that should be donated. I don't want to keep assigning sentimental feelings to things that didn't really matter to us before his death.

    From your description is sounds like you are coming into a renewed acceptance of life. While also providing space for the possibility of something new.

    It feels very balanced.

  2. You may never want me to write to you again but here goes. After my husband passed I was unable to stay where i was. I stayed with my sister and my furniture was stored in 2 storage places. My sister said i could not afford 2 and i had to get rid of half of it. I was in no shape. I just picked out what i could, and then threw up the door to the other one announcing to anyone friends included take what you want just don't talk to me about it. I do not want to know. I could not keep everything , the dining room set of his mother's we ate so many meals at. So many things gone, even after all this time if i let myself think on it to much i become very sad and upset. The losses seem to continue. I want to sound postive, I have new furniture now and another place to live. But to tell the truth I feel sad because there seems to be even less of him around as if he is disappearing. I hope it is different for you and your boys, i really do.

  3. Dear Carol - I am so glad you wrote. This whole situation of "possessions" has haunted me for years. I am feeling a loss at giving up the furniture right now - next week I'll be tackling the items from my husband's office (all his papers, books, personal effects, National Geographic collection, etc.). I truly wish I could keep everything but two storage sheds are costing me $400.00 monthly and my poor sons need clothes for summer.

    I have to balance the needs between the here and now with the old memories. It is not easy and it hurts and it just ends up being more losses as you note. I totally understand what you are saying and feeling. It has taken me six and a half years to reach this point and if it weren't because of financial necessity I wouldn't be doing it. But I do think my husband would be telling me to get the boys some clothes rather than keep storing his National Geographics!

    I absolutely disagree with the wisdom often given to new widows/ers to get rid of their spouses stuff early on. I see no harm in holding on to possessions if they give us comfort. Who is it hurting except making OTHERS uncomfortable? Also, it is very easy for others to tell us what and when to give things away but it is not so easy for the person who owns those items. People need to be far more understanding of this than they are.

    This week I had the exact thought you brought up - that it seems as though evidence of my husband's life is disappearing. But I have to keep reminding myself that his value remains far beyond his old program playbills and the National Geographics. Energy doesn't continue to exist in "things" - they are nonliving, inanimate objects. What continues to exist is the loving energy that comes from the memories of my husband's life - talking and thinking about him and seeing him as part of my two sons.

    I am looking forward to new furniture in the future and you inspire me to believe that a day will come when I'll be able to afford it and I'll be living in a more stable situation. You have given me some hope despite the sadness you are feeling and hope has been in pretty short supply for me lately - so thank you so much for that!

    I don't have any easy words of wisdom that I wish I could pass on to you. There is loss in having to give up the items that were part of our loved one's lives, no question abut it. And some of us have a harder time with it than others. Already so many losses to bear and then the unanticipated loss of feeling and seeing our loved one's life seem to disappear! You really raise an important aspect of grief, one that we're not prepared for and one that isn't really talked about.

  4. Dan - Thanks for continuing to stay in touch. I liked your comment about not wanting to assign sentimental value to things that weren't important before Michael's death. I have done so to my husband's stuff just because it was his. And I really have to step back and let these things go. I know that what I've really been doing is to try and hold on to my husband by holding on to his stuff and junk. It is an effort in futility.

    I keep trying to look at it from the perspective that the world will be a better place if I can pass things on that others can now use and enjoy - spreading the wealth so to say. It is hard but in the end it'll be okay. It's all just stuff and what remains in my heart is the real gift.

    Let me know how things go with your clearing things out. It's tough work emotionally and physically - exhausting really. Try not to get too stressed out - we're already dealing with so much and this is yet more to handle. I think I'm going to start drinking more fruity summery drinks as a way to combat my stress (just one after work!). And maybe one before and after my trips to the storage shed. Maybe that will reduce the stress a notch or two!