A recent study, done before this pandemic by Amerispeak and WebMD, found that “57% of Americans are grieving the loss of someone close to them over the last three years.” I am one of those people. What I have learned about grieving people is that we all handle our personal grief so very differently.
I am the griever who acted on ridding herself of ‘his’ belongings, not the memories, the things. It was and continues to be my way of coping. The process began about three years, ago. In phases from what I deemed less significant to most meaningful, I began the removal. I have written more extensively about it [here]. I strategically found people, family members first, who I knew would appreciate the item as well as hold dear the memory of my late husband. The process of exchanges went smoothly with the what-you-might-expect niceties.
This purging of ‘things’ due to grief however, has morphed itself into the consideration of other house items, now moving into the furniture category and the realization that when a family changes due to life circumstances, the items in a home do not change. So, I’ve been asking myself, “Are these items relevant to me now? Are they blocking future endeavors? Controlling me in any way?”
I seem to always answer with the need to purge. So, now to be intentional and purposeful about my life, the giving away has continued. Photographing the ‘thing’, advertising its availability on a social media site, it being picked up. The receiver and I barely exchanging a word, no history shared of the piece, the deed happening in my driveway. Done. It is amazing how easy this process has become and how much I am enjoying the light and space that is left behind but, sadly, have come to accept the lack of any emotion with the new owner.
Until the dining room table. A hieroglyphics of our lives. The first major piece of furniture late hubby and I purchased together for the house. Memories of the high chair, the traumatic moment of a food allergy, homework view point arguments, meal time candle burning, Thanksgiving dinners, birthday parties, social gatherings. 40 years of gathering and living. I had a replacement in mind, moving another smaller table into its space from another room. I pondered for a long time and came to the same decision, the large stately table needed a new home.
I thought of the other things that were given away. This was clearly more difficult. More personal with our family history literally etched into it. I imagined it leaving me in the same way. On the other hand, did I want a table to hold me back from making my current living space more conducive for me now?
As is the routine, I took photos, prepared it for its re-homing, and posted its most flattering pics on social media. The first response came within the first hour. Oh, I thought, here we go.
But, this exchange was very different. I noticed the careful attention to the way my family heirloom was packed into their vehicle. Tenderness that I might be losing a great friend via commentary was felt. Those nicks? “A little Pledge Restore and Shine won’t hurt,” he said. A personal story or two shared. A gift bag given for the exchange of kindness. Words of gratitude and appreciation were said and felt.
But, what inspired this writing and the memory I will keep is the message just received, and a day after. “I will treasure the table and create new memories with gatherings of friends and family. Thank you so much.”