January 11, 2020
Sharon C. Ryan
With my parents ageing, my sister and I were tasked with the daunting task of divesting of items accumulated over 63 years of marriage to family members, none of whom wanted any of it! Bit surprised?
Don’t be. Today’s young adults value simplicity and freedom. They don’t want to be bogged down with “things.” Especially old things that collect dust and take up a lot of precious space in their small condos.
So how do you incentivize family members to want to care for, keep, and treasure things from a past millennium in a clutter-free, new world?
Wisdom! You need a lot of wisdom to assign these precious items to the appropriate family members in such a way as the ageing parent will feel at peace knowing the mementos of their past will live on in the hearts and homes of loved ones.
First, realize that as people get nearer to actual death, those around them will begin to suddenly value these items. So, if you start asking around too early in the process, don’t be surprised if everyone tells you they’re not interested, thank you very much!
This is exactly what happened in our family until Christmas, 2019, when my mother was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer – an aggressive form of spreading internal cancer. After recovering from the shock, family members quickly emerged out of the dust to claim their favorite piece of china or photograph.
Now my sister and I had the opposite problem as before. Too much demand for these precious treasures!
Here are some tips to help you through this process:
- Ask the ageing owner how he/she would like to assign the items.
- Meet each family member individually and privately in the home and ask them to tell you what items they would like to keep – without making any promises!
- Start with the easy assignments. If the ageing person wants a particular person to have a certain item and that person wants that item AND no one else wants that item, them you have an easy decision. Write it down.
Now, here is where the wisdom comes in. Some of the younger people may not value any items at all. So, you can bait them into an experiential encounter with the ageing person AND the item to create a valuable memory!
For example, when the young person comes over to visit Grandma, make some tea in the teapot Grandma wishes the young person to keep. Bring out the matching tea cups and plates. Serve some cookies. Take some pictures. During the tea party, gently mention to the young person that perhaps they would want to keep the tea pot, dishes, and cups as a memento of Grandma. The answer will be a resounding YES!
Pack to tea pot, cup, and plates up immediately in an easy to store container. This way they young person can easily take it home and just put the whole container in a closet without breaking any items. Create the path of least resistance!
Please call me for a free and confidential assessment of your downsizing situation. 780-233-6398