Your Stuff Is Not Your Legacy

“What will we do with all this stuff?”

As my generation gets older, we find that we are more and more often tasked with the job of disposing of a loved one’s belongings after their passing. It’s such an awful, painful job. It’s almost like we’re letting go of the person all over again, every time we let go of something they owned.

This, of course, is not rational. But since when did rationality ever come into play when it comes to letting go?

As a professional organizer, I meet a lot of people who have a lot of excess “stuff.” It’s often their families who want me to help them to pare down. When it’s not their own idea to declutter, they’ll put me off saying, “I don’t want to bother with this right now. I don’t mind all the stuff. It’s got memories for me. Somebody else will just have to take care of it when I’m gone.”  Really?  That’s what you want the last memory of you to be?

Your family doesn’t love your stuff.  They love the “essence of you.” If you’re going to leave something behind, let it be photos of you together with your family. Let it be your art, your books, your letters, your philanthropy. It’s you they love.

I submit that this job will never get easier for those we leave behind. All we can do is to try to lighten the load while we’re still in control.

Don’t leave a legacy of furniture whose story no one remembers any more. 

Your stuff is not a legacy.