Five Things

Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales
Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales

You will die. On that day, those close to you will mourn. Later, the same people will need to deal with the mundane aftermath. They’ll have to sort your possessions, clean your home, and (probably) fill in a bunch of unpleasant forms.

Under your bed, they’ll find a collection of old things you’d cast aside, meaning to eventually toss in the trash. Oddly, this—or something like it—will cause them to become sentimental. They may even feel drawn to hold on to this stuff, believing that by doing so, they can save a piece of you.

You are not your things, though, and no matter how much we might like, there just isn’t a back-up or auto-save. The time we have is all there is, and there’s no way back.

So, here’s my appeal to you: save those you love the burden of having to deal with these things. Before that day comes, pick five things you really enjoy, and plan to pass them on to those you expect will find joy in them. At the same time, ask them to ensure that everything else be donated to goodwill.

While you’re at it, take a look at all that stuff in the “everything else” category. Are you really willing to carry, store, and clean it for the rest of your life? You won’t take any of it with you anyway. Perhaps it’s time to jettison the nonessentials and lighten the load.


  1. After recently losing my father we are faced with this. My sisters and I are avoiding going through our parents things to decide what to throw away, give away or keep. This process is closure. Being reminded of where we come from and enjoying memories.

    We do tend to leave too much stuff behind but I think it depends when we pass. If he passed in his 60’s or 70’s then there would be less stuff but think of a 90 year old man thinking about throwing away memories when you are actually trying desperately to hold on to them.

    We found a closet chalk full of magazines and old newspapers up to 40 years old mostly about ship building, and hovercrafts to which he used to design and build as a marine engineer. I love some of the covers for the aesthetics but sisters think it’s all junk. I may keep three and frame them, just for the memory of my father, the rest garbage!

    Love your articles!

  2. Mom(excellent health, age 76) & I have discussed “stuff”, what we each have and what to do with it after we die or downsize to a living assistance facility. We do not want to burden the other with keeping stuff just because it belonged to dearly departed
    Your article perfectly states what I should be doing now(5things) not to saddle family with my stuff. Good points on other aspects as well

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