If you really love your family…

…get rid of your stuff now, so they won’t have to later.

5 min readMay 11, 2022


image courtesy of adobestock.com

Going through your parent’s home after the funeral is brutal.

You live in the bardo of She loved this, but if I get rid of it, it’s like I’m getting rid of her. So you end up either keeping stuff you don’t want or feeling horrible about not keeping it. You have to make a million decisions. And everything is tangled up in tendrils that have a death grip on your past.

I know this because I’ve been experiencing it vicariously through my wife, who’s had to make all those decisions about everything in her mother’s home — and quickly — so she could clear it out and put it on the market.

If you’re in the middle of something like this, I’m sorry. I can’t help you. I mean, you can meditate, but other than that…carry on.

If you’re not clearing out your parent’s home after a death, and you’re relatively fine right now, but you want to save your children a boatload of dog work and suffering after you die…read on. It’s win/win. It helps you while you’re alive, and it helps your remaining family once you’re gone. But you need to do some imagining first.

Your family will have to stand in your house without you in it.

Once you’re gone, they will have to figure out where to begin, and not be able to. They will have to walk through each room, deal with each and every item. And no matter how loving or difficult your relationship was with them — the enormity of the task will be paralyzing.

Eventually, they will bring boxes and labels and sharpies and garbage bags. They will order pizza. They will have to sort out which bills still need to be paid. They will have to stop the newspaper delivery.

And the more progress they make, the more there will be to do. It will feel like unending, boring, exhausting physical and bureaucratic dog work. And you can count on it being emotionally fraught as they fight their way through the muddy swamp of memory.

I’m telling it like it is because I want to spare my children the same fate. And maybe yours, too.

Good news though…




Novelist. Poet. Musician. Buddhist. Quilter. Animal lover. Visible grownup. Hidden child. Secret dancer when all alone. Makes good bread.