Peeling Back the Layers

This is on the topic of life after the loss of a loved one.  Not the emotional impact nor the significant life change but more-so on the items that were labeled ‘his’ that were left behind.  What I call the layers of physical reminders in and around the house.  Loss is a tricky thing and we all cope differently.  I am speaking of how I handled his ‘comforts of joy’ that I no longer desired to have around. Where to begin?  How to deal?  Well, I did what I do best.  I organized them. I organized in groupings, like layers, from easiest to most difficult in their significance to our relationship meaning the easiest to the most difficult in coping with each of his things.

I call it the removal of layer one.  These are the large furniture-like pieces that I wanted removed from the house quite immediately after his passing.  Like neon signs of significant loss. Examples: his leather chair, his dresser. Our bed. I was on the hunt very quickly to find someone who could utilize this large furniture.  His clothing and shoes.  These items found alternate homes quickly.

Layer two.  These are things that were of significance to him, only.  His toys. Such examples: his fishing rods and equipment, baseball hat collection, pen sets.   Homes for these things were sought after the ‘big’ items.  Of course, offerings to family members were made, accepted, and appreciated as keepsakes.

Layer three and by far the most difficult to confront were items of his, however held the memories of our connection to one another, his passion and obvious talent. These items of his stemmed around all things music. His large collection of musical instruments, both woodwind and baroque, sheets of music, and extensive CD collection had to go.  About a year and a half has gone by and I knew it was finally time to face the inevitable.  What to do with them?  Knowing that instruments need to be played to keep from self-destructing as well as knowing their function is to be played, it was time.  Well, what instruments need are musicians.  Musical friends came to mind first in bidding them farewell.  Then, consignment shops.  A local shop took in his woodwinds. The baroque instruments . . . a trip to Boston.  Taking the baroque instruments back from whence they came could serve as purpose, perhaps some pleasure.

Potpourri Boston ~ We chose a quaint little apartment airbnb in Boston’s Historic North End.

This is us touring around town and yes, it happened to be Super Bowl week (NOT planned, really).

and just before Valentine’s Day.

We were swept up by the crowds and dragged to this.

The significance of visiting the Boston Aquarium were the invites from Jill’s childhood. However, even on this day we could watch these penguins and their handlers for hours.

But, the purpose of our trip was to take the collection of baroque flutes and recorders to Von Huene Workshop, The Early Music Shop of New England in Brookline where they were originally purchased, could be re-tooled, and re-sold to musicians who would carry on the renaissance music these instruments were meant to play.  Here you see a host of recorders as the owner explains.

Always nice to end a day with happy hour.  So, why not here?

Later in the week we invested in an outstanding tour of the city, I mean, complete with tour guide, and as tourists do, we had to pay Paul Revere’s house a visit on the way out of town.

A little bit of Boston’s this, a little bit of Boston’s that helped to peel back the most difficult layer.  I do have late hubby’s CD collection left in the house and it is the last of his possessions to go.

Maybe, removal of loved one’s items is not for everyone.  Memories of him, and us, will remain in my heart forever. I believe less in the house will encourage me to move forward in my new normal.

12 responses to “Peeling Back the Layers”

  1. Holly, you touch on the thing I find hardest about such a loss, the letting go of the things that were treasures of a loved one. What to do about them? And then there is the sudden flood of emotion when you face them, perhaps unexpectedly, opening a drawer, or a closet.

    You are tackling the layers so wisely!

    It looks like a fun week to be in Boston! I enjoy that city, though I don’t get there often. It feels much more manageable to me than does NYC. 😉


    • I pondered a LOT as to whether to write this post or not. A very controversial topic. Some leave things just the way they are when the loved one passes away. I feel though that would keep me in that moment and I don’t want to be in that moment but rather enjoy life as best I can even though it is very different. New friends, new experiences, newish environment here at home. Thank you, Sarah for your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are very brave in sharing honestly what you went and are going through. I understand the need to move on, and doing this in stages, when you’re ready, is probably the sanest and healthiest thing you can do. Congratulations on taking the time to do this at your own pace. Memories are what matters, not things.


  3. This was very inspiring, Holly. I often think about the volumes musical scores of my husband… or the tubs of yarn which are mine. I appreciate your intentionality and respect for the soul.


    • We all have our ‘toys’ and we will all feel differently about what to do these sorts of items when we either move or lose our loved ones. I am expressing what I needed to do.


  4. Holly, thank you for sharing. Your writing carries one thru your experience so honestly and completely. It appeals to our emotions and our own personal experiences. Your writing creates understanding. Again – thank you!!


    • This was a tough one to write and I debated for a bunch of months whether to write it or not. Now, sad to say I have a category on my website called Grief. I’ve received many thanks for thoughts on the topic so maybe, these posts are helping others. Thank you, Holly and I was just sharing photos of Inga’s cape to a new friend!


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