Everybody is in search of something. We search for happiness, prosperity, vitality, etc. We search for understanding, the meaning of life, the mysteries of the universe. We look for people and special places and a million other things – all so that our lives will be meaningful.
In all my years of working in estates, I see clients searching for something too, but many of them haven’t quite figured out what it is they are looking for. When it comes to clearing out the estate, many of them take way too much stuff only to clutter up their own homes. You know they will never use those items, yet they continue taking, taking. Why do they do this? What void are these things feebly filling, that they didn’t get from the loved one in life?
Are they searching for absolution from a lost parent, or in need of validation of who they were to the parent? Are they angry with the deceased loved one and never got a chance to make it right? Are they guilt-ridden? Did they not receive enough emotional love and support from the parent-child relationship, and now take things feeling “entitled” and holding a grudge?
Things are never a replacement for people. At the end of our lives, we can’t take these things with us anyway and they will only serve to burden our children who really don’t want the stuff from the start.
When my mother died, here’s what I took from her estate and that very painful experience:
- I took her beautiful smile and laughter, forever etched in my memory.
- I took her solid advice and now practice it daily.
- I took 50 years of memories … family gatherings and good times.
- I took photographs so I would never forget how blue her eyes were.
- I took her common sense, good manners, and lady-like disposition, and carry them with me, among many other things.
The point I’m trying to make is that memories are not found in things. The things you take from an estate will gather dust and be forgotten eventually. Special memories are already in your heart if you had a good relationship with the loved one. And if you didn’t/don’t have a good relationship, now is a really good time to try to mend old, crumbling fences.
© 2012 Julie Hall