By Caroline Flinn, Contributing Columnist
Recently my mother sent me a cartoon that pictured an elderly man showing a packed storage unit to his son with the caption reading, “One day Son all this will be yours.” It made me smile but also reminded me of the reality of inheritance. The busyness of daily life makes it easy to avoid dealing with belongings accumulated over a lifetime, and the task of sorting through your home and its contents may be daunting for many reasons:
- The difficulty deciding what to keep and give away.
- The guilt parting with gifts or items passed down.
- The reality of looking at money spent, and years gone by.
- The emotional weight of reflecting on life through the story of your belongings.
Prioritizing the management of what you own may not top the list. But life is unpredictable, and it is unknown when the freedom of “I’ll deal with that later” will disappear. Going through your home can be cathartic and meaningful but will be an emotional and logistical challenge for a relative or friend called to deal with your belongings if you are unable to manage it.
A planned downsizing over time, rather than in an urgent response to a crisis, loss, or dramatic change, is much more manageable and offers the benefits of being part of the process. Meaningful conversations can be spurred with family and friends as you pass along items or share treasures discovered through decluttering. Time allows thoughtful consideration of where an item can be re-used or donated, keeping items from the landfill but still moving them out of your home. Taking control over the fate of what you own can provide great peace of mind for you, and for your family and friends.
So where to begin?
Start with the path of least resistance for you. Often fewer personal items and useful/necessary things are easier to tackle. Once you gather momentum, move to more personal and sentimental items. Set reasonable time frames to complete the work and schedule time to get it done. Consider whether you would like help from a professional organizer or an objective friend or family member. Talking through the process with someone else or seeking professional advice and having help to distribute belongings can make a significant positive impact.
In the wise words of Leonard Cohen, “Putting your house in order, if you can do it, is one of the most comforting activities, and the benefits of it are incalculable.”
Caroline operates Purposeful Place Organizing, a residential organizing service. She is a trained professional organizer through Professional Organizers in Canada (POC) and the current chair of the POC Atlantic chapter. Reach out to Caroline today at caroline@ purposefulplace.ca or 902-292-3386.
Image by gpointstudio on Freepik