Ever wondered what to do with the things our loved ones leave behind? I believe that all of us react differently, and so there is no right or wrong way. For some, their things give strength and it is the only way they can feel in touch with their beloved one, and some of us are able to stay connected with the deceased without keeping their things with us.
In the initial period, there are so many times, that one would look for the deceased. There is a need to find belongingness and connectivity in everything around us in association with the lost soul. And every time the sensory modalities sense the deceased’s smell, touch, warmth or presence, it gives rise to mixed feelings- one is the joy of being able to feel them and the other is the pain of not having to sense them around, anymore!
When one decides that they don’t want to depart from their things, it is the little things that make them feel that the deceased is around them. It can be the clothes that smell of them, that blanket that kept them warm, and keeps you warm. The things they used, that bring comfort to you on days when you need strength. I have come across people who make a quilt out of the deceased’s clothes, and keep it with them for life. Few wear the accessories they wore or they gave, and few continue wearing their outfits.
I have realized that one of the hurdles one faces in respect to things that belonged to the beloved is letting it go. Sometimes there is guilt associated with discarding and detaching yourself from their belongings. Few of us gain the strength to share and give away the deceased’s things to others like family and friends and sometimes to people who need it. So keeping objects that are associated with the beloved one can be quite challenging. Also, keeping it and not using it for the fear of losing the deceased’s essence is another dilemma one faces.
So all of us have a different approach to the way we grow with the things that belonged to our loved ones. Here is little bit of what I faced. For the longest of time, I wore my engagement ring as I believe it to be a symbol of the good times I have had with my deceased fiancé. My mind would come up with many rational reasons to support wearing the ring forever. With people questioning it, my decision got stronger and stronger. But one day while introspecting, I questioned the reasons. I realized that one of the reason I wore it, was because I needed support, and the ring made me feel that he is watching or taking care of me. Every time I had to take a decision, or I found myself alone without him, every time I sensed a disturbance or joy, I would touch the ring. So, I just removed the ring, to see how it felt and to find out whether wearing or not wearing the ring will lessen the association or feelings. It did disturb me for days. But what I realized is that memories we formed, are between two living hearts and not by the things that we acquire as a result of it. Its been few days, and I still feel the same way as before, as I felt earlier, the same spectrum of emotions ranging from sadness to happiness with the feeling of connectedness. So I have come to believe that the association, the connect, his role in my life doesn’t alter, whether I keep his “things” to myself or not.
Someone once told me that when you start considering or believing that “their things” are “your things”, that’s the time you have moved one step towards healing. It might work for some, but for some it might not work. May be it works because there is detachment from association and hence stopping us from getting lost in a chain of emotional reactions? Or maybe it doesn’t work because there is a sense of pride or contentment in knowing and declaring that it’s theirs.
So, here are few things we need to keep in mind-
- Let us stop being judgemental about what the bereaved does with the things belonging to the deceased.
- As a grieving individual, let us stop judging ourselves or view ourselves from people’s pair of glasses.
- You decide what you want to treasure, and what you want to share. You decide what holds sentimental value and the role it plays in your life.
- Trial and error is the way to go. Keep walking and keep trying. If you get tired, remember to breathe.
- Taking any decision in haste can lead to regret sometimes, making you feel guilty. So take your time. You don’t have to push yourself against your will. Do what helps you to adapt healthily irrespective of it sounding logical or rational as per the world’s demand.
- There is no perfect time for anything, no fixed period for grieving, similarly there is no fixed period within which you need to make or take decisions about their belongings. The right time is in your hand and in your heart to decide.
- Remember to acknowledge yourself, your strength, your ability to cope and being able to stand, strong or weak through this period. Every step you take, whether it is deciding to keep their belongings or giving their smallest thing to someone you care or donating it, is a step ahead and so be kind to yourself, give yourself a hug or a well-done note.
Remember, whatever you do, if it brings peace, it is right. If it doesn’t, let us find a path to understand our needs. Our needs are great resource centres to provide us with directions. Like I always say, there is a reason we are called ‘humane’, we have a heart, a soul that feels and emotes. So lets follow our hearts more often, because if you hear carefully with an unbiased approach, you might get your answers and take the right turn towards a comfortable and satisfactory road they call life. 🙂