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My wife of 19-years passed away from an incurable disease 2/12/2014.  The week after the funeral, I enlisted the help of my sister-in-law to go through 3-boxes of her books and some clothes.  What a mistake that was!  Books - no problem, take them all.  Clothes - Man did that rip right through me; and it was my idea!  How stupid can I get?  Guess I didn't learn my lesson since I'm posting it for all to see. You're thoughts?

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One thing I could not bring myself to part with was my husband's old dresser.  It's not that it was such a beautiful piece; he'd picked it up off the curb long before he met me.  One handle was broken off by him in a fit of pique when the drawers started sticking, it had remnants of old stickers on it from his days in a hippie house in the 1970s...cigarette burn marks, etc.  It was pretty much useless, and I thought when I moved that I would have a junk man pick it up.  But I found that it had so many associations with our life together that I just couldn't do it.  So I brought it with me here to NC where it sat on my screened porch for a year.  A neighbor told me about a furniture refinisher, so I spent a ton of money letting this guy restore it.  Now it is in my dining room, providing storage for my crockpots, roasting pan, and other things too big for the cabinets.  Check out the before and after:  

But you know what?  Sometimes I miss the way it used to look!  (:-O)

really nice result though!!

It is beautiful and useful and a wonderful way to keep the memories with you.

It took a long time for me to start letting go of things. My son was here in the first year and started packing things to take to GW, well a little of that goes a long way - he keeps nothing that he isn't using at the moment - but that is not me- so we had a little "discussion" and that put and end to it until I was ready. It was a few years before I invited him back to help me do more sorting and donating.  He packed up all the model railroad stuff and organized it on some shelves in the basement - he says he and his son want them (not so sure about that) but at least they are packed up and safe. Then he helped me sort through the tools and a lot of extra household stuff to put out at a garage sale. As I thought about it I didn't like the neighbors going through all our things so the boxes got put in a shed.  Then I found a place called the Recycled Art Workshop.  They take anything and everything to use in art and craft projects. What they can't fix to sell they take apart and use the pieces, other things they share with other organizations. Since I am an avid crafter and believe there is a use for everything so this was the perfect solution for me. On one of their visits he helped me load up his car and his wife and I made a trip to their center, they were happy and I was happy. They even took 50 years of craft magazines :).  I have been boxing up more things to take there in the spring.  As for his clothes I did finally let go of most of them and gave them to a men's shelter in the area. They were glad to get x-large things.  Other individual things I have shared with people I thought would like them.  ( I have found that there are w groups of people - one that gets rid of everything and don't care who gets it and if they want it and then there are those of us that are very concerned about getting things to the right people.

I did a lot of donating and freecycling, and when I was able to meet the people who were excited about getting these things, it really helped me to feel better about getting rid of things.

I may have mentioned this before but we also have a lot of souvenir/event t-shirts. I know many people make quilts out of them but I have so many special tquilts and blankets that I have no place for another quilt or wall hanging.  My solution was to photograph them to make a digital quilt to put in our photo album, there is also a copy on my computer.  Then I gave the shirts to a couple of associated organizations. Only kept a few that I still wear.

When Ron and I downsized a few years ago I found a wonderful book called "Rightsizing Your Life" by Ciji Ware.  Cee, you hit on a couple of her pieces of advice.  One was for collections of anything: keep the few that are the most meaningful and give the rest away.  She also told the story of a woman who, forced to relocate from a home she'd decorated lovingly and carefully over decades, hired a videographer to go through the home with her so she could tell the story of each room and the things in it.  At the end there's an Appendix with charities that take different types of things.

I'm still letting the less-valuable things go as free stuff on Craigslist.  It's been over a year and it's easier with time.  I still feel a little bad, as if Ron might come back and wonder what happened to his stuff!  

well after 3 years I thought it was time to donate a sweatshirt of Frank's that I have been wearing around the house . It has a little stain, so I couldn't donate to a thrift store. But the cold-weather shelter is having a warm clothing drive, so I washed it and was going to bring it there. But I just couldn't do it.

Barb...it's one sweatshirt.  It's not taking up that much room.  If it has meaning to you, keep it.  (I have a thing about only donating things in good condition without stains, even for the homeless.  I get it that when you're homeless, you don't have the luxury of choice.)  So keep it as a memory.

Hi Barb,

It's not the sweatshirt you have trouble giving away, it's "Frank's sweatshirt" and it is obviously special to you.  Simply keep it.  I still have a couple of my husband's things and it has been nearly 4 years for me.

Hi,

Susan passed in December 2012.  There were some things that I emptied in the first weeks namely medical supplies. She was diabetic and the folks in the area grabbed up her lancets and other things.   Susan wanted to be a donor.  She had that on her driver's license, but she was without circulation and oxygen for so long that her organs were not viable.  5 years later when I was able, I kept her wishes by taking her sewing materials and fabrics, a packed  full size GMC van full, to a sewing group that makes blankets and hats for newborn children in the various hospitals. I took her clothing to a place that cleans them and gives them to women who need clothes to wear to job interviews and such.  I gave her coats to group that collects coats for the winter, cleans them, and then gives them out to the needy.  Now, after 6 years, all that is left is her sewing machines, and I've no idea what to do with them.  As I type this, I think I'll ask the gals at the sewing center if they would take them.  I hope so.  

5 years ago, as I walked through the house and Susan's sewing room, I stopped and thought, I need to start going through this stuff.  I reached over and picked up a plastic bag and opened it, in it was some of Susan's clothing.  They looked familiar. Then I noticed the label on the bag...PERSONAL EFFECTS and I realized this was what Susan was wearing when she was flown to the hospital that day.  I cried and cried and set the bag aside and I knew I was not ready.

There comes a time, when something inside you tells you "it is time."  Don't agonize about how long it takes for that voice to tell you it is time.  We are all different and there are different reasons for moving your spouses belongings.  There is usually, no rush.

Hugs,

Frank

My husband had inherited a number of carvings and pictures from his father. None of them were to my taste.

It’s taken awhile to arrange but the auctioneer picked them up today. The auction will take place on the one year anniversary. 

I was torn about selling them but they meant something to him but not me. 

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