Delegating what to do with what the dead leave behind is a common ritual for the living. And when it’s your own loved one? In each slip of a paper and garment is a memory. Or a smell. A joy followed by a grief.
For some, the task is too painful. They assign the job to a friend, or even hire out the work. Others madly toss stuff in boxes that get put into storage. They put their grief behind lock and key.
And then there’s me. I worked on the process off and on for eight years. I loved my parents’ belongings jogging my memory and filling in the parts that time blurred. But it was also a very difficult job. I bawled my head off. There are things I just could not throw away. That suited me. Their things made the house feel lived in. Like they were there.