I’ve been talking about my mom a lot lately, and today I’m going to do it again, but with a little twist. I hope you’ll bear with me. Today I’m sharing two practical tips that I took from the tasks that were required following Mom’s passing: one to-do and one to-don’t.
I have become the de facto obituary writer in my family, a job that is both a privilege and a challenge. I have written obituaries for my father, my brother, and my mother. Having the opportunity to put what writing skills I have to work in honoring loved ones is humbling and gratifying.
I appreciate that the family trusts me with this important job. That trust was emphasized when a sister and sister-in-law both asked—in different conversations—that I write their obituaries. One said, “You have to outlive me, so you can write my obituary.” The other suggested I could just write her’s now.
That got me to thinking. Why can’t we eulogize the living? I mean, yes, I’ve written thank-you notes and love notes, but what about a eulogy in the true sense of the word, extolling the virtues of someone, while that person is alive to appreciate it?
Before this year is out, I plan to do just that. I commit to writing and sharing at least one eulogy for a living relative.
Not to Do
As I’ve noted here and here, my mother left us a beautiful legacy of love and strength. She also left us something a little less appealing: heaps of stuff to sort through and eventually cart off to Goodwill or the dump.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a small price to pay for a lifetime with this amazing woman, and it gave us, her children, a project to work on together in those days leading up to and following her death. And amidst the clutter, we found some real treasures. It was a labor of love in the truest sense of the word.
But it did get me to thinking about my own collection of stuff. I don’t want my survivors—whether that’s my husband or my children—to have to sort through mountains of meaningless things to find the treasures. Do I really need dozens of coffee cups…when I repeatedly use the same half a dozen? Do I need receipts and user’s manuals for items I’ve owned for years or no longer even possess? Do I need a bookshelf overflowing with books that I enjoyed, but will not read again? You get the idea.
So I went home and immediately cleaned out my nightstand, a storage cubby, and my bathroom cabinets. There’s still much more to do, and I plan to systematically go through each closet and drawer and shelf before 2020 is through.
- What’s one thing you would like to accomplish in 2020?
- What’s your love language? Do you write letters, do favors, buy things? Something else?
- Do you hold onto things, or are you good at letting go?