After my mother died, I was inundated by emotions. A part of me wanted to hold on to whatever was left of her on this earthly plane, and that manifested itself in holding on to her things. It displayed itself in my home, in keeping her dining room set, a few of her personal things like jewelry, and a collection of different nick-knacks. Not only did I hold onto these things, but I felt an obligation to do so. I felt giving them away would somehow betray her memory or make me lose a part of her. Although I gave away many of her possessions immediately after she passed, I still held on to many things, some of them made a load much heavier than I imagined.
Clearing my home of my mother’s clutter and giving away the personal things I kept after she passed did not in any way take away my mother’s memory. In fact, after giving the things I held on to all these years, I was surprised that I actually felt closer to her. My mother was a very giving soul. She loved helping people and giving of herself to others. I realized that by giving her things away, I was actually continuing her legacy.
Living intentionally creates more room to breathe. Both figuratively and physically. My home feels lighter. The absence of these items in my home let me release my grief. Although it seemed like these items were allowing me to remember my mom, they were actually keeping me in one stage of the grief process. I realized that by letting my mother go, I was actually coming home.
This process was not an easy one. It took me about ten years. My mother held a constant presence in my life, with her role as a confident, supporter, and friend. I hoped that keeping the little angels she loved by her bedside, I would somehow keep a piece of her. But the more things I kept, the less memories I wanted to remember. It was so difficult for me, that despite keeping her dining room set in the hopes of eating with my family to remember her, instead I never wanted to use it.
In the years that followed my moms death, I was fortunate to have moved a few times. Moving was fortunate for me, because it aided in the process of releasing things each time. The first move was extremely difficult for our family, because I held on to many things I should have probably released before the move. The subsequent moves, I realized that to make space for my new memories with my family, I had to let go what was literally and figuratively weighing me down.
I never realized that I holding on to the old memories of my mother, was keeping me from making new ones with my young family. This realization made me want to make my own place in the world. I started to see that she would not have wanted me to live in the past, or try to take her place. Rather, she would have preferred me to live my own life after her death, and make a new life for myself with my husband and my children.
These days, I live more intentionally. It is not the “stuff” that matters, but what the release of material things has taught me about myself. My house still does not look like a magazine catalog or a perfect minimalist picture of design, but what it does provide is a sense of peace. I understand that throughout this process I have had to give myself compassion to grieve. I have also come to the understanding that my mother is so much greater than anything she left. She is forever present in my heart.