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Their belongings

Their belongings

Posted: Thursday, December 4, 2008 9:52 pm
By: By Don Harold Lawrence

There are two extreme approaches regarding what bereaved people do with the personal belongings of their deceased loved one. On the one hand, some bereaved people give away everything that belonged to their deceased loved one too quickly. In Katherine Long’s novel, “Undercover Commitment,” she describes how Kyle Landenburg realized that he had gotten rid of his wife’s belongings too quickly after her death: “He knew from personal experience there was no easy way to face a loved one’s belongings after that loved one was gone. After Sally’s death, his first response had been to toss every article of her clothing — every shoe, every purse, every trace of a reminder. … Many a sleepless night had passed in which he’d longed for one of her sweaters or scarves to inhale, hoping for a whiff of the perfume she’d loved” (pages 136-137).     A lady, whose son had died unexpectedly, told me that a number of people came to her home soon after his death and asked if they could have certain things that had belonged to him. At the time, she was so overwhelmed with grief that she was at a loss as to what to do with his personal belongings, and she, more or less, gave free reign to those who wanted his things. She was heartbroken because she deeply regretted making what she called a “foolish mistake.” On the other hand, some bereaved people save everything that belonged to their deceased love one. For example, I recall talking with certain parents who had converted their deceased child’s room into a museum where everything had remained the same as it was before that child had died. One father told me that he had put a lock on his deceased son’s bedroom door, and the only time the door was opened was when he or his wife went into the room to dust and vacuum. Bereaved people have told me about keeping their deceased spouse’s clothing in the closet or items in their office or workshop the same as it was before he/she died. The common-sense approach to this dilemma is located somewhere between these two extremes and involves our not letting other people influence us as we make such an important decision. There is an important connection between closure regarding the death of our loved one and our being able to make rational decisions regarding what we do with their personal belongings rather than being controlled by intense emotions or the selfish desires of certain people. Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is www.shackelfordfuneraldirectors.com. Published in The Messenger 12.4.08

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