So far the hardest part of middle age has been saying goodbye to folks because of old age, cancer (so much cancer), and events like heart attacks, brain bleeds and suicide.
Recently I lost six folks dear to me over the course of a single year. It was random. The deaths were not related to covid19 or each other.
To process the sheer volume of loss, I had to do some serious grieving. Lucky for me, it was winter; dark and rainy most of the time. While inside, burning candles and padding cozily around my 750ish square feet, I noticed I had a lot of stuff that reminded me of dead people. Especially my dearest ghosts like Dad and Grandma. I also noticed that thinking of those people made me think of other dead people. Which led to thinking about living people that are probably going to die soon. Not to mention my own death.
I even started asking, what is the point? Then I wondered, do I really need to grieve all this?
So, during those dim, damp and chilly days, I took council with my ghosts and they helped me understand that it’s not necessary to have so much stuff that reminds me of dead people. “We’re with you always, regardless,” they said. And, “Don’t worry about us, live while you can!”
I started to explore how an object becomes sentimental. I like to thrift and over the years I’ve found I feel imprints of energy on objects left by how it existed in the minds and hearts of the people around it. It’s not always pleasant. Sometimes I’ll notice a collection of stuff at the thrift store that obviously comes from the same home and I can almost hear the ghosts bickering over lunch.
I talked over my need to unkeep with friends and more than one person reflected on practices like thanking an object, or telling its story, before giving it up. Marie Kondo is one contemporary expert:
According to Kondo, who spoke to HuffPost via email, there’s an element of animism ingrained in Japanese culture, “which believes every object has a soul.”
“This idea is incorporated in the KonMari Method as expressing gratitude to your belongings for taking care of you,” she said. “If you are letting go of an item, giving thanks is also a way of properly saying goodbye, so that you can mark the end of your relationship with the item and release it without guilt. It’s a way to recognize your relationship with your possessions.”
Marie Kondo Wants Us To Thank Our Belongings. But Does It Really Help? By Julia Brucculieri. Huffpost, 2019.
I am an Endling. Neither me nor my cousins on my Mum’s side have offspring. I’m one of three people in the last generation on a family tree branch. And I am the youngest. On my Dad’s side, I don’t have a lot of connections. So, I have no siblings or heirs for my mementos. After me, there won’t be anyone who wants these items and few who remember the people connected to them.
I am not getting rid of everything. But, I want to create space for things connected to the life I’m living, now. So, I’m collecting items to unkeep and using this blog to thank them and tell their stories; to extract their preciousness and upload it to the cloud.