Tuesday, December 28, 2021

No More Gifts

Moving on is hard to do.  

It can be emotional to move out of a home that has existed since your birth, where there are fond memories of growing up and family get togethers.  

How much more so, then, to clean out a childhood home full of mementos of family members no longer living?!

I'm not suggesting that anyone transform their present home into a shrine... or build a new life on piles of old memories.  To go to such an extreme is not healthy and can stifle future prospects.

But I have to write out my thoughts about this transformative moment in my life, because I'm not quite prepared to say this goodbye, though this time I know it's coming.  The reality is that I don't know what I might need or want in a future residence, and the space constraints of my current living situation preclude me from rescuing as much as I might wish.  However, as I write this, I wonder if perhaps that in itself is a blessing in disguise. 

My father was a collector - he saw the beauty and potential in many things.  And now, while cleaning out the home where he lived and collected a life's worth of souvenirs, tools and gizmos, it's left to me (and my family) to decide which treasures we can take with us and which we need to let go in order to allow ourselves to move forward in our own journeys.

Moving out of my childhood home marks the end of an era.  It's natural to reflect on all types of memories at this juncture.

Death is so final.  It means no more conversations, no more hugs, no more shared moments with my father.  And because I have no choice about the rest of it, I struggle to let go of the things that belonged to him because I know that there will be never be more such "gifts" in the future.  

And I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to the things that belonged to him that were part of the house.  As a stop gap measure, I'll keep the most meaningful and useful in storage for a limited time until I make up my mind.  But this is only to give myself the opportunity to navigate yet another layer of grief... because in the end, letting go of things will allow me the freedom to gift myself other things... things that I will enjoy because I've chosen them instead of having them choose me simply by virtue of their prior ownership.  

I guess when I look at it this way, that in itself is a gift.  I just need to prepare myself to accept it for what it is. 

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I am an educator who is trained to reflect, not a rabbi or any type of halachic authority. These writings are in no way binding, and may not represent all approaches to and experiences in navigating grief. In fact, there will likely be those who disagree with me or can offer additional suggestions and reflections. For this reason, I am leaving the comments section open so that together as a community, we can broaden the scope of this blog to include a majority of human experience.

One important request: Please be respectful in posting your comments and be sure to frame your tips in the most positive phrasing possible. I reserve the right to delete any unkind comments and plan to update the original posts occasionally to include additional insights and reflections from our combined experience.


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