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Thread: Not sure what to do - Husband passed away

  1. #1
    Senior Member corkym's Avatar
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    Not sure what to do - Husband passed away

    My husband passed away suddenly in Oct. It has been overwhelming the emotions that have surfaced but that is for another subject. He was a "collector" to put it nicely. Not quite a hoarder (because I wouldn't let him) but pretty darn close. He had bags of broken pens and pencils we had carried around for years and a bottle of Carmel air (little beach town in Calif.) and Bugs Bunny Pez containers and binders and binders of notes he had taken. 8 old computers and etc. and you all get my drift I am pretty sure. Very funny, loving, kind, intelligent, well spoken man but irresponsible and a "collector". We fought many many years about his "stuff". I like things clutter free and I hate boxes of old things lurking in dark corners and in the garage. I want freedom to breathe and not feel a lot of stuff hanging over me. So when he passed away I started in on throwing out and donating a lot of his things. He had over 20 suits. He had a really good library of theological and apologetic books I was able to donate to a pastor from Ruanda that was starting a church. And he was thrilled. So I was really happy about that. Okay, sorry I tend to ramble, I will try to reel it back in as to what my original question was meant to be. My question is what have you done about a loved one's treasures that were important memories such as trophies, awards, certificates, diplomas, etc. I know I will never display them, but I know he treasured them. I could take photos of them and save them online but that seems silly to me also. I know I would never look at them. How can a person's lifetime of achievements be thrown out but why haul them around and store them when you know you will never look at them. But it was a big part of his life. My son has already taken the few things he wanted and doesn't want any more. Do any of you have any suggestions on what you have done with things like this? It feels cold and callous to dump them but I will be moving to a smaller place and I don't like storing items I won't use, but emotionally I feel guilty. So I am open and grateful to any of you that have any suggestions.

  2. #2
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    We gave a lot of my kids’ old swimming trophies to a local swim team. They were able to have the plate on the bottom changed locally for much less than the cost of new trophies and reuse them for new swimmers. My kids felt good about helping to support a sport that had supported them. You might want to check with local organizations if that seems like a possibility for any of your husband’s awards.

  3. #3
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    So sorry for your loss. It is hard. You have been wise in giving family members who may wish some items their choice that you don't want. That gives you some direction that while it had value for your DH, it no longer does for you and your family. We do that routinely in our lives so that is normal choice.

    I found that I discarded my late DH's items in stages. Some took longer than others. What helped me sort things out was when I moved and had to decide what awards, mementos of my own to discard. We had also kept a history of every property we owned that I loved, etc. When I actually looked at them, I felt grateful for the experience that came with it and then let go. I did the same with DH's key awards, etc.

    I made a simple office folder for both of us that includes photos of some items, some history of our life and written awards, grad pictures etc. The small items like pins, pocket knives, his collection of reading glasses, currency collection (he collected paper money when coins replaced them) took some time to sort through so I put them all in one drawer of his bureau. I finally went through it all 5 years after his passing.

    We discarded his ashes in his favourite place in our woodlot and that box (shoebox size) now contains the sympathy cards, accolades and items that I treasure.

    So six years later, I have a sense of a new life with purpose, direction and a new home. It has taken that long so may I suggest that you take as long as you need to work through the mental and emotional stuff. The physical stuff of the past is easier to discard when you have your future to work towards. As I typed this, I realized that it is somewhat similar to other big changes in our lives. We didn't stay teenagers forever but looked forward to the next step taking very little of the past with us.
    Sending you hugs as you journey on.

    What helped the most was finally coming to terms with the fact that I was not discarding so much as building a life for today. I would then ask myself, " Do I need this today and/or for tomorrow?".
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    Corkym, I'm sorry you are going through this. Everything Razz said....and she's been there could help. Be kind to yourself and know that the decisions you make are all steps forward.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Simplemind's Avatar
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    Like Razz, I peeled the onion by layers. Some things I wanted to hold on to in the fresh stages of grief. As time has gone on I have been able to release them. I am down to just a few items that meant a lot in the previous life and comfortably fits in the new.

  6. #6
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    I'm so sorry, corkym.

    Your husband's lifetime of achievements is not being thrown out as you dispose of items. Your marriage, the children you raised, the success you have had in life so far -- none of those are erased by giving away or tossing items which have no use for you. They are just symbols of the life he led. Giving his old trophies so some new ball players can participate in sports and win a trophy does not diminish your DH's prowess. Along those same lines, if some sort of natural disaster occcurred even while both of you were alive and you had mere minutes to get out of the house, not saving that printed diploma does not take away DH's education or intelligence. We here have largely internalized that "we are not our stuff". Your husband is not, either. He lives on in memory regardless of what physical notations exist. Keep what you'd like and do not feel bad about disposing of the rest responsibly.
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

  7. #7
    Senior Member corkym's Avatar
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    All of you have given such great advice, and things to think about. Thank you so much. I had not thought about if there was a natural disaster what would I take. That makes those things seem not quite as important to save in my mind. It helps me to prioritize what is important to keep. Thanks for that Steve. And Razz different things you said really resonated. I really like what you said about using his ashes box to store in sympathy cards and other such items. That is such a great idea. And so is the office folder. And questioning oneself "Do I need this today and /or for tomorrow?"

  8. #8
    Senior Member corkym's Avatar
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    Thank you so much Simplemind. I think you are right, it is peeling an onion by layers. My thoughts and feelings keep changing just during these last short 4 months. As time goes on it will be all so different the way I feel.

  9. #9
    Senior Member corkym's Avatar
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    Thank you for the encouragement nswef. I like that "the decisions you make are all steps forward." That helps me to see I am not going backwards, because it sure seems like it some days...

  10. #10
    Senior Member corkym's Avatar
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    Chicken lady - What a terrific idea! I would never have thought of doing that. Thanks, I will think about a way of reusing some of his things. That is so creative to come of with that

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