Most people wait to do this since it’s such an emotional event. Friends have told me they waited one, two or even five years or more. I had to do this right away because we had sold the house four days before he died. Another family was moving in.
At first, I tried by myself and I ended up in a blubbering pile on the floor. After an hour, I had not put a single thing in a box. But I had emptied a box of tissues.
What do I keep? What do I throw away? How can this be all that’s left of my child? Just the stuff. Where is that red jacket he liked so much? What happened to it? Where are the rest of his notebooks?
I gave up and tackled another room. I’ll get that room another day.
So I try the next day. Same result. This is not going well. Worse than that, it’s agony.
I call in the troops. I needed help with this.
Martha was the first to help me. We’ve been friends since first grade and our kids grew up together. What am I saying, she and I grew up together! No one knows me better.
It gave me comfort to give away some of the things to her kids. Charles’ ski jacket for example. He wore it once out in Utah. I took pictures of other clothing items, posted and Facebook and asked Charles’ friends if they wanted any of them. They all had special requests. I mailed 15 packages to various locations across the United States. Now they had a worthy home. I just could not bring myself to simply donate them.
I still had a lot of items to either pack or give away. Given how soon it was after his death, Martha suggested packing anything I questioned since I might regret it later and I took that advice. It wasn’t like I was thinking at this point, still in the fog of early grief.
We got about half done. That was all I could take. Keep in mind, that this is just days after he has killed himself. It’s still raw. Most wait at least a year.
My neighbor Wendy joined me next and we got it done.
Ultimately, all his possessions fit into two boxes. And his backpack which was never put on a moving van. I carried it with me because I could not let it go–the pictures of family he carried with him and the notebooks he had left as well as his beloved iPod.
I can’t tell you how many times I went in that room and looked around and sat around those boxes and cried. I have them in my new home. Two boxes. How can twenty years of a human life fit in two boxes?
As sad as this task is, it is an after death task that pushes you to acceptance of the loss and healing your soul.