By Kevin Mischke, Director of Family Services at Concierge Care Advisors
I recently took a vacation to my hometown in Minnesota to clear out my mom’s storage unit. After her passing almost a year ago, we had stored some of her possessions until we decided what we would do with them. We were lucky that there was only a small unit full of items that we needed to go through. I have 3 siblings and we actually started clearing out her home almost 15 years ago which made her transition to an Independent Living Facility 10 years ago much easier. As you can imagine, with 4 children and living in the same home for over 30 years, there was much to downsize and declutter before her move. She knew back in the early 2000’s that she would eventually sell her large home and move to something smaller and more manageable, and she began the process of clearing out all the years’ worth of memories and possessions. Since all of her adult children were grown and moved out of the house and had started their own families, it was time for us to take responsibility for our childhood items. I was sent home with several totes full of trophies, pictures and items from my childhood as well as my siblings. My Mother knew that downsizing and decluttering then would only lighten the load for us and ease the transition for her.
Decluttering is important because it helps simplify decision making for the future. Fewer possessions mean fewer decisions and will make it easier to focus on what truly matters in the final years. Clearing your space can create less mental stress and create a more peaceful environment. Starting early and selling off items that may bring in money can also help plan for future needs and expenses. More importantly though, when you declutter, you make it easier for your loved ones to handle your affairs after you’re gone. They won’t have to navigate a mountain of belongings or make challenging decisions about what to keep, sell or donate. This will make an easier transition for loved ones who may be already dealing with the grief of losing a loved one.
I am very thankful that my mother started this process years ago. She set clear goals in the beginning on what she wanted to achieve. She knew that she would eventually be selling her home and moving into an Independent Living or Assisted Living situation. She started clearing the home years before this transition. She divided her belongings into categories such as clothing, furniture, sentimental items, documents, and items for her children. She began giving away some of the sentimental items to grandchildren and other family members. This way she was able to tell that person why the items were so special. She donated some items and sold others. She organized documents and began the process of getting financial papers and future care plans in order. She was able to articulate and discuss how she would like to live out her final years and help plan to make that happen.
I feel thankful that my mom was a planner and started the process of decluttering and organizing many years before she passed away. She made managing her affairs at the end much less stressful for all of her children. Decluttering before you die is an act of love and consideration for yourself and those you leave behind. By simplifying your life, you will find peace, reduce stress, and make it easier for your loved ones to manage your affairs. It is a meaningful step towards ensuring that your legacy lives on without the burden of unnecessary possessions.